In romantic relationships, narcissism predicts partner-enhancement negatively

In romantic relationships, narcissism predicts partner-enhancement negatively ...

People overestimate their partners' qualities in the initial stages of a romantic relationship and judge them more favorably than themselves. This is called partner-enhancement, and recent study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found that narcissistic individuals do not partner-enhance in the same way as non-narcissistic individuals.

As relationship satisfaction rises, partner-enhancement tends to decline, according to study author Anna Z. Czarna and colleagues. Couples who express partner-enhancement have lower expectations of partner change, less negative communication, and greater relationship satisfaction.

Therefore, the researchers were interested in narcissism as a personality trait, and how people with narcissistic tendencies engage in (or dont) partner enhancement in romantic relationships.

To complete Study 1, the researchers recruited 70 adult participants who had been in a romantic relationship. They completed questionnaires assessing the duration of their relationship, self-esteem, partner enhancement, and narcissistic personality.

Results indicate that relationship duration was not associated with partner-enhancement. However, narcissism affected this pattern in that those with lower levels of narcissism engaged in partner-enhancement at earlier (and not later) stages of the relationship.

Study 2 aimed to expand the sample size and test different levels of narcissism and partner-enhancement. Researchers recruited 412 adult participants involved in a romantic relationship. They measured the same variables as Study 1, but used different measures of partner-enhancement and narcissism.

No relationship duration or narcissism were associated with partner-enhancement in general, although those lower in narcissism partner-enhanced at earlier relationship stages, but not later stages. Those higher in narcissism partner-enhanced at any relationship stage once again.

Researchers tested both partners in a sample of 84 couples on the same measures as the previous studies (narcissism measure from Study 2 and partner-enhancement measure from Study 1). Results showed that a shorter relationship duration was associated with greater partner-enhancement, but only among men, although this was generally consistent with previous findings.

Low narcissists partner-enhanced at an earlier (but not later) relationship stage, whereas high narcissists self-enhanced throughout. Among women, low narcissists partner-enhanced at an earlier (but less so) relationship stage

The authors cite several limitations to this research, including the self-selection nature of the recruitment strategies, the mostly female composition of the Study 2s sample, and the inclusion of only young heterosexual relationships in the Study 3s sample.

Anna Z. Czarna, Magdalena Smieja, Michael Dufner, and Constantine Sedikides coauthored the research, Narcissism and partner-enhancement at various relationship stages.

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