23-Question Personality Scale Measures Covert Narcissism

September 4, 2013

“Have you ever met someone who constantly tells you how 'sensitive' and 'introverted' they are, but all you actually see is selfishness and egocentricity? I’m sure you have, because these people exist in spades,” wrote Scientific American blogger Scott Barry Kaufman. In an article exploring “23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert,” Kaufman cited research by Wellesley professors and former students and used a scale developed by the team.

The article, which originally appeared on Scientific American, and was later posted on Huffington Post Science and Salon.com, employs the Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale, an updated version of the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale, developed by Class of 1949 Professor in Ethics and Professor of Psychology Paul Wink and Professor of Psychology Jonathan Cheek. Alumnae Holly M. Hendin ’94, Jennifer Odessa Grimes ’04, and Katharine M. Hargreaves ’13 were all centrally involved with the project during its more than 20-year research history. 

The scale, which began as a 10-item test, was recently “improved” to 23 items and renamed. Cheek, Hendin, and Wink presented the new scale at the 2013 Association for Research in Personality conference.

Narcissism, a personality disorder recognized in various ways over the years by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is often characterized by grandiosity, lack of empathy, and need for attention. It gets its name from the Greek myth of Narcissus, who was exceptionally handsome but disdained his admirers; he died when he could not tear himself away from his own reflection in a pool of water.

Care to see where you’d score on the scale? The scale is published in the article. See: "23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert" in Scientific American.

Image: From Echo and Narcissus, by John Williams Waterhouse, 1903.