Narcissism—a fixation with oneself and one’s physical appearance—is not a revolutionary new phenomenon; there will always be people who don’t just toot their own horn, but instead strike up the entire marching band. What may surprise many people is that this idea of self-importance is not evenly dispersed among the sexes, and (surprise again!), the majority offenders are not who you think they are. That’s right, ladies, you’re off the hook. Statistically, number of narcissistic men are higher than that of women.

In recent studies, researchers looked at some of humanity’s off-putting characteristics such as self-absorption, manipulativeness and arrogance, and surveyed how people responded to statements that included “I like having authority over people” and “I know that I am good because everyone tells me I am.” Results showed that men are more likely to agree with phrases like “I insist upon getting the respect that is due to me,” and thus were more likely to exploit others and to believe that they were entitled to special privileges.

 This feeling of entitlement stems from a tolerant society that even somewhat encourages a conceited swagger and aggressiveness in men that is discouraged in women. “In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for [them] to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior,” says Emily Grijalva, an assistant professor of organization and human resources at the University of Buffalo. There is the classic example of a man exhibiting authority over a group and being considered a good leader, and a woman displaying the same level of influence and simply being seen as “bossy.”

Men don’t necessarily receive much backlash for flaunting their ego’s, so why not keep flaunting? Admittedly, the draw for entering a cycle of acting with grandeur, getting praise, and reacting with a well-advertised pat on the back doesn’t seem to have many repercussions, so it’s not surprising that men take the lead in the self-centered department. Professor Grijalva, however, disagrees, saying, “Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy long-term relationships, unethical behavior and aggression.” So while it may seem like there aren’t consequences to narcissistic thinking, it can actually have a subversive effect.

Narcissism in men may not be as obvious as catching them checking themselves out or telling everyone to come see how good they look; it emerges more as the expectation that they should be commended for their efforts (big or small), because they’ve “earned” it. Women are not always afforded this positive attention, which can lead to animosity and feelings of unfairness. It is important to understand that this is not a male vs. female thing; it’s an issue brought on by society. Rejecting those limitations, men can continue to act as they please and women should feel free to behave in the same way. If we’ve all got it, we should all flaunt it, right? Just keep a safe distance from pools.



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