Revolutionary Leftists are narcissists and psychopathic but not soft-hearted
My heading above is a plain language version of what two very careful Swiss researchers found in a study of American attitudes. Their study is notable for its high degree of methodological care and caution so withstands most criticisms that might be aimed at it. It is high quality research.
As I have long argued that Leftism is in general psychopathic, I have no quarrel with their conclusion there. Their finding about narcissism is also one I agree with. I have in the past put forward that claim on behavioural grounds but not as a result of attitude surveys.
It has long been my contention that excess ego is at the root of a lot of social problems: Crime generally, for instance. The criminal thinks that what he wants transcends the rights of others.
When (on October 30, 2008) Obama spoke of his intention to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography. He was talking about transforming what he thought American people can and must do. He thought he knew better: Clearly egotistical.
So what I was talking about there is undoubedy a facet of narcissism
The definition of narcissism is however a matter of contention. Our Swiss authors took a very broad view of it but I think the findings of Paul Wink give us a much sharper view of it
He combined three existing measures of narcissism, including the MMPI and CPI, and factor analysed the responses of a heterogeneous sample to them.
The sample responses showed no such thing as as unitary trait of narcissism. Varimax rotated eigenvectors revealed two distinct and uncorrelated traits underlying the "narcissism" questions: Vulnerabiliy and grandiosity.
Freud's seminal article on narcisissm claimed that those two traits covaried but on Wink's results Freud's picture of the narcissist is fiction. The traits he describes do exist but they do not form the coherent syndrome described by him. So much talk of narcissism seems over generalized and confused. I would have been happier if our Swiss authors had used a good measure of grandiosity rather than a more widely dispersed account of narcissism. It would have given clearer results.
My other grumble is with their use of the absurd SDO measure. Its correlates are built into it. More on that here
But despite the limitations I have mentioned it is still a first class study of attitudes with highly defensible conclusions. It does convincingly show some thoroughly discreditable attitudes among extreme American Leftists.
Abstract of the Swiss study below:
Understanding left-wing authoritarianism: Relations to the dark personality traits, altruism, and social justice commitment
Ann Krispenz & Alex Bertrams
In two pre-registered studies, we investigated the relationship of left-wing authoritarianism with the ego-focused trait of narcissism. Based on existing research, we expected individuals with higher levels of left-wing authoritarianism to also report higher levels of narcissism. Further, as individuals with leftist political attitudes can be assumed to be striving for social equality, we expected left-wing authoritarianism to also be positively related to prosocial traits, but narcissism to remain a significant predictor of left-wing authoritarianism above and beyond those prosocial dispositions. We investigated our hypotheses in two studies using cross-sectional correlational designs. Two nearly representative US samples (Study 1: N = 391; Study 2: N = 377) completed online measures of left-wing authoritarianism, the Dark Triad personality traits, and two variables with a prosocial focus (i.e., altruism and social justice commitment). In addition, we assessed relevant covariates (i.e., age, gender, socially desirable responding, and virtue signaling). The results of multiple regression analyses showed that a strong ideological view, according to which a violent revolution against existing societal structures is legitimate (i.e., anti-hierarchical aggression), was associated with antagonistic narcissism (Study 1) and psychopathy (Study 2). However, neither dispositional altruism nor social justice commitment was related to left-wing anti-hierarchical aggression. Considering these results, we assume that some leftist political activists do not actually strive for social justice and equality but rather use political activism to endorse or exercise violence against others to satisfy their own ego-focused needs. We discuss these results in relation to the dark-ego-vehicle principle