As a collective narcissism drives world politics

Columnist for BBC Future, psychologist Christian Jarrett talks about how rarely discussed trait can become a cause of political unrest around the world.

How do you feel about his nation? Do you get mad when someone criticizes your country? You think the world would be better if your country had more political weight?

Would you like to see other countries rushed to recognize the authority of your state?

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, any social psychologist will tell you that at the national level, you show signs of collective narcissism.

The questions were composed on the basis of the collective narcissism scale consisting of nine items was used in studies on this topic.

Many of us are familiar with the psychological term “narcissism”. This feature is characteristic of people who outwardly seem pompous and arrogant, but their inner self is weak and vulnerable.

However, collective narcissism is something else. So talking about those who demonstrate excessive confidence in the superiority of their group, whether a gang, a religious community or a nation, but deep inside doubts the prestige of this group and therefore wishes its recognition by others.

This carefully hidden vulnerability and a sign, allowing to distinguish collective narcissism from a simple pride in his country.

Similarly, the narcissist differs from person with a healthy self-esteem.

One of the ways of studying collective narcissism is a test on hidden Association (TCA). It is of several types, but typically is in the division of words into categories by pressing the appropriate buttons.

The meaning of the test is that we react quickly if the same key is assigned to categories, which we mentally associate between themselves.

For example, if you have high self esteem, you act quickly if you have to press the left arrow to indicate and positive words, and words that you associate with them.

Consider the example of the application of this test in the study.

Scientists discovered that the poles who showed signs of collective narcissism, slower than survey participants on average, associated Polish characters with positive words.

Although the interpretation of the results of TSA causes a lot of controversy, in this case, they indicate that poles, at least some tend to the collective narcissism were not prepared to see their national group in a positive light.

This may be one reason for their desperate desire to confirm the authority of their country from the representatives of other Nations.

Data from other studies indicate that certain aspects of collective narcissism — a kind of compensation for feelings of personal inadequacy.

This is largely similar to the behavior of people-narcissists, who exalt themselves and boast in order to hide their own anxiety.

For example, Alexander Cichocka and her colleagues at the University of Warsaw recently discovered that more likely to Express signs of a collective narcissism of those who feel unable to manage their own lives.

In addition, the researchers found that collective narcissism was stronger for those participants who during the study were asked to recall times when they could not control their lives.

In contrast, when participants were asked to remember a time when they had it all under control, signs of collective narcissism was smaller.

The concept of “collective narcissism” is not new. It was first suggested by the psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm, and sociologist Theodor Adorno in the 1930s.

However, social psychologists very time again became interested in this problem, given the political unrest rocked the world lately.

According to preliminary data compiled by Agnieszka Golec de Zavala from Goldsmiths College, collective narcissists are more likely to vote for Donald trump and “brakcet”.

(To clarify: this does not mean that all people who voted for trump and “brakcet”, collective narcissists.)

In fact, collective narcissism to a greater or lesser extent, can appeal politicians representing both sides of any dispute.

For example, speaking of the restoration of legitimate sovereignty and independence of great Britain, supporters of withdrawal from the EU could find understanding among people with similar traits.

However, it is possible that their opponents thought it necessary to touch on those strings of the soul of his countrymen.

David Cameron, at that time Prime Minister of great Britain, urged to maintain the country’s membership in the EU, calling upon the Patriotic feelings of citizens.

“I don’t think Britain should leave the EU. I think we need to stay and fight. That’s what we should do. That’s what made our country great, and it will be in the future,” he said.

Interesting — and perhaps very important, the fact that collective narcissists are more prone to believe in conspiracy theories, especially involving strangers.

For example, in another study, published last year, Golec de Zavala and Cichocka found that the poles who showed signs of collective narcissism, believed that the 2010 plane crash near Smolensk (which killed Poland’s President and several other politicians) was a terrorist act by Russia.

Concerned about the fact that, as stated Golec de Zavala and Cichocka, collective narcissism may be the cause of enmity between the countries, because collective narcissists often act in response when they believe their group the insult.

For example, in the study, published last year, participants from Turkey, are prone to collective narcissism, most said that a negative decision on the entry of their country into the EU was a humiliation for the nation.

At the same time they were relieved that the EU is experiencing economic difficulties.

Similarly, collective daffodils from Portugal viewed Germany as a threat (perhaps because he thought her guilty in the introduction of austerity measures by the EU).

They would welcome any opportunity to repay Germany the same coin.

Another study involving American students showed that collective narcissists are more likely to support military aggression.

Despite all these findings, it is worth noting that collective narcissism is quite different from other types of national pride, and a positive attitude towards their country can have a number of advantages.

In his recent review of scientific papers on the subject of Cichocka explains what benefits it can bring strong feelings of belonging to a group.

People can fill their lives with meaning and value, acting in the interests of your group, and healthy patriotism is usually associated with tolerance and understanding towards representatives of other Nations.

However, the collective difference of daffodils lies in their defensive and sometimes even paranoid position, and in the unquenchable thirst for recognition by others.

It should be borne in mind that in many studies on collective narcissism was deliberately excluded the influence of other similar psychological and sociological phenomena — including those that are usually considered negative (for example, belief in the superiority of their own group over others).

Was eliminated, and more positive factors, such as constructive patriotism (love of country with a simultaneous recognition of its shortcomings and finding ways to change things for the better).

Of course, in the cycle of real life, many of us in one way or another are experiencing all these feelings at once. Besides, our attitudes and beliefs can change over time.

However, if we ignore the reservations people have at least some relation to politics, is to take the results of these studies seriously.

If events 2016 (the”brakcet”, the election trump President of the United States) meant anything, we have more and more chances to encounter this from time to time a little discussed type of personality.