Are Self-Trackers Narcissists?

February 17, 2009

“Are self-trackers narcissists? Results from NPI-16” at the QS Show&Tell; video by Paul Lundahl.

Are self-trackers narcissists? In the video above, from the recent QS Show&Tell, I report on trying to find an answer. Here I give a quick summary of that talk and a reference link. I decided to run this test because a few weeks ago Alexandra Carmichael made a detailed and helpful report on her self-tracking project. Sandy Lane made the following comment:
DoesItMeasure.pngIt was a fair question, and in the comments thread I proposed answering this question in our own way: with numbers. So in a survey of QS readers I included all the questions from the NPI-16, an instrument to measure narcissism that has been used and tested in psychological assessment research for many years. I go through the details in the talk, but the short answer is no; in our small sample of 37 self-trackers, the mean narcissism scores were almost at the center of the range of mean scores in a set of five large surveys used to validate the NPI-16 against a longer and well-validated measure of narcissism, the NPI-40.

There is a caveat, however. I took the question to mean: do self-trackers have the overweening sense of self typical of narcissists? There are other definitions of narcissism. Many people mean “narcissism” more loosely; more or less as a synonym for “annoying.” If narcissism means annoying, then this test doesn’t resolve the issue.

Reference: The NPI-16 as a short measure of narcissism, Daniel R. Ames, Paul Rose, Cameron P. Anderson, Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 440-450 (PDF)

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