Collective Narcissism: What It Is and How It Affects Our Society

Most people are familiar with the concept of narcissism – a personality trait characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. However, there is a lesser-known type of narcissism that is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society: collective narcissism.

What is Collective Narcissism?

Collective narcissism refers to the tendency of individuals to identify with and take pride in the accomplishments of their group or community. It is similar to traditional narcissism in that it involves a sense of superiority and entitlement, but it is directed towards the group rather than the individual.

Individuals who exhibit collective narcissism may become defensive or aggressive when their group is criticized or when they perceive that their group is not receiving the recognition or respect they believe it deserves. They may also have a distorted view of their group’s history and importance, and may believe that other groups are inferior.

Examples of Collective Narcissism

Collective narcissism can manifest in a variety of settings, from political movements to sports teams to religious organizations. Here are a few examples:

  • Nationalism: Nationalistic movements often involve a sense of collective narcissism, with members of the nation believing that their country is superior to all others and deserving of special treatment and recognition.
  • Sports fandom: Fans of sports teams may exhibit collective narcissism by believing that their team is the best and deserving of championship titles, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. They may also become defensive or aggressive towards fans of other teams.
  • Religious groups: Some religious groups may exhibit collective narcissism by believing that their religion is the only true one and that followers of other religions are inferior or misguided.
  • Business organizations: Some companies or industries may exhibit collective narcissism by believing that they are the best or most innovative in their field, even if objective evidence does not support this claim.

The Negative Consequences of Collective Narcissism

While collective narcissism may seem relatively harmless at first glance, there are many negative consequences associated with this trait. Here are a few:

Group Polarization

When individuals with an inflated sense of group superiority gather together, they may reinforce each other’s beliefs and become increasingly extreme in their views. This can lead to group polarization, an effect in which group members become more entrenched in their beliefs and less willing to consider alternative perspectives or information.

Intergroup Conflict

Collective narcissism can also lead to intergroup conflict, as members of different groups compete for resources or recognition. If one group perceives that it is being marginalized or treated unfairly, members may become more aggressive or defensive in response. This can escalate into violence or other forms of conflict.

Difficulties with Diversity

Individuals who exhibit collective narcissism may have difficulty accepting or appreciating diversity, as they believe that their group is superior to others. This can lead to discrimination or exclusion of individuals from other groups, which can limit opportunities for learning and growth.

Resistance to Change

Collective narcissism can also make it difficult for individuals to adapt to change or consider alternative ways of doing things. If individuals believe that their group is already the best, they may be resistant to new ideas or approaches, even if they would benefit the entire group.

How to Address Collective Narcissism

Collective narcissism can be difficult to address, especially if it is deeply ingrained in a particular group or community. However, there are a few strategies that may be effective:

Encouraging Perspective-Taking

Individuals who exhibit collective narcissism may benefit from being encouraged to consider other perspectives or to imagine what it might be like to be a member of another group. This can help to reduce defensiveness and increase empathy towards others, which can help to reduce intergroup conflict or discrimination.

Fostering Positive Intergroup Relationships

Creating opportunities for individuals from different groups to interact in positive ways can also be effective in reducing collective narcissism. When individuals form positive relationships with members of other groups, they are more likely to see the value in diversity and to work towards common goals.

Challenging Stereotypes and Biases

Collective narcissism may be reinforced by stereotypes and biases about other groups. Challenging these stereotypes and biases can help to reduce collective narcissism by promoting greater understanding and empathy between groups.

Conclusion

While collective narcissism may seem relatively harmless on the surface, it can have many negative consequences for individuals and society as a whole. By understanding the causes and effects of collective narcissism, we can take steps to address this trait and promote greater empathy, understanding, and cooperation between different groups.

FAQs

What is Collective Narcissism?

Collective Narcissism refers to the shared belief of a group or community that they are superior to others. It is characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, entitlement, and a lack of empathy towards those who are considered outsiders. It often leads to negative attitudes towards those who are deemed to be inferior and can damage social cohesion within a community.

What are the consequences of Collective Narcissism?

Collective Narcissism can have multiple negative consequences for a group or community. It can lead to the justification of discriminatory behaviors towards minority groups, negative attitudes towards outsiders, and a disregard for the needs and concerns of those who are not part of the group. This type of behavior can also lead to social polarization, as communities become more insular and closed off from one another.

How can Collective Narcissism be addressed?

Addressing Collective Narcissism requires recognition and understanding of its existence within a group or community. This can involve identifying the underlying factors that contribute to the development of these negative attitudes and addressing them through education, social programs, and active dialogue. It is also important to promote communication and collaboration between different groups to foster a sense of empathy and understanding towards one another. Ultimately, addressing Collective Narcissism requires a commitment to changing negative attitudes and behaviors within a community through open communication and a willingness to listen and learn from one another.


References

1. Golec de Zavala, A., Federico, C. M., Sedikides, C., Guerra, R., Lantos, D., Myslinska, D., & Cypryanska, M. (2017). Low collective self-esteem as a mechanism underlying the relationship between collective narcissism and hostility toward minorities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(2), 190-210.

2. Golec de Zavala, A., Dyduch-Hazar, K., & Lantos, D. (2019). Collective narcissism and support for authoritarianism: Evidence from a national study. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 49(12), 713-726.

3. Rousseau, F. L., & Aubé, C. (2019). Is it good to be a collective narcissist? A social identity perspective on the relationship between collective narcissism and group outcomes. European Review of Social Psychology, 30(1), 147-187.