An empirical typology of narcissism and mental health in late adolescence

Daniel K. Lapsley, Matthew C. Aalsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


A two-step cluster analytic strategy was used in two studies to identify an empirically derived typology of narcissism in late adolescence. In Study 1, late adolescents (N = 204) responded to the profile of narcissistic dispositions and measures of grandiosity ("superiority") and idealization ("goal instability") inspired by Kohut's theory, along with several College Adjustment Scales and a measure of pathology of separation-individuation. Cluster analysis revealed three clusters: covert narcissists (N = 71), moderate narcissists (N = 55) and overt narcissists (N = 74). Moderate narcissists had significantly lower means scores on indices of anxiety, relationship problem, depression, esteem- and family problems and pathology of separation-individuation. The overt and covert clusters showed comparable levels of dysfunction on most indices of adjustment. This general pattern was replicated in Study 2 (N = 210). Moderate narcissists showed a uniform profile of good adjustment, whereas covert and overt narcissist clusters showed a pervasive pattern of dysfunction. Results support the claim that narcissism has "two faces" and that a moderate degree of narcissism is associated with fewer adjustment problems or psychological symptoms. Directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-71
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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