Meta-cognitive and interpersonal difficulties in overt and covert narcissism

Zoe Given-Wilson*, Doris McIlwain, Wayne Warburton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


This paper profiles meta-cognitive (affect-dysregulation, empathy and identity-concerns) and interpersonal difficulties in both overt (ON) and covert (CN) narcissism. It explores mediation effects of meta-cognition in interpersonal difficulties. Participants (n=177) completed self-report measures of ON and CN, affect-dysregulation, empathy, identity-concerns, and interpersonal difficulties. Analysis confirmed that ON and CN are independent constructs. Both are associated with identity-impairment, however each reflect different internal and interpersonal difficulties. ON was associated with a lack of vicarious personal distress and interpersonal difficulties characterized by dominance/control, neediness/intrusiveness and lack of assertion. CN was associated with affect-dysregulation and fantasy (index of empathy) and reported interpersonal problems characterized by vindictiveness/self-centeredness and social inhibition. CN was negatively associated with coldness/distance. Meta-cognition mediated some interpersonal problems in both ON and CN. A lack of personal distress mediated the negative relationship between ON and non-assertiveness and suppressed intrusiveness, suggesting a lack of vicarious distress may contribute to interpersonal difficulties due to an intrusive social style. In CN, all interpersonal difficulties were mediated by affect-dysregulation and identity-impairment. Results reinforce the importance of differentiating between ON and CN in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1000-1005
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

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