10 Ways to Spot a Narcissist

Who’s your favorite narcissist? Kim? Justin Bieber? The Donald? And who can forget Kanye? Imma let you finish, but first, what exactly makes a narcissist? Savvy Psychologist explains, plus offers 10 tips on how to spot a narcissist.

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
5-minute read
Episode #60
fist bumping self in mirror

Giveaway #6: They’re Charming and Attractive...at First

Narcissists know how to work it.  They’re very seductive, are often physically attractive, and their confidence draws people to their flame. They’re magnetic, until you get to know them.  Which brings us to…

Giveaway #7: They Start Many Relationships

Narcissists often start out in a relationship with an inflated, idealized view of their partner.  But the partner quickly falls from the pedestal for three reasons: 1) getting to know the real partner, not just the image, lets the narcissist down, 2) the risk of actual intimacy is too threatening, or 3) someone seemingly better comes along.  Which bring us to...

Giveaway #8: They’re Always Looking for the Next Thing

A 2002 study found that narcissism is negatively linked to commitment.  Narcissists always think they can do better, so they are more likely to attend to what researchers call “alternatives” (that is, the hottie down the bar).  

Giveaway #9: There’s No Core of Self-Loathing or Insecurity

A team of researchers at the University of Georgia did a study in 2007 that was actually titled “Do  Narcissists Dislike Themselves 'Deep Down Inside'"?  It was an ingenious study that used implicit associations to measure how narcissists saw themselves.  And contrary to the popular belief that narcissism covers up insecurity or low self-esteem, it turns out, through and through, narcissists really do think they’re all that. Sound like someone you may know? (Cough, Gwyneth, cough).

And finally...

Giveaway #10: They Totally Admit it

In 2014, a study found that narcissists can be identified by asking this one simple question:

To what extent do you agree with this statement: “I am a narcissist.” (Note: The word “narcissist” means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)

The study was rigorous - the researchers tested the question in 11 separate experiments and the results showed that people’s answers were accurate.  Despite having lousy empathy and commitment, at least we know narcissists have accurate insight.

To wrap up, remember the original narcissist, Narcissus, searched and searched for the ideal romantic partner until he found the one person who was flawless and perfect enough for him: his own reflection in a pool of water.  We also know that didn’t go so well: he drowned in that very pool. If only they had selfie sticks in ancient Greece.

Are you a narcissist?  Test yourself with this quiz.

What did you find? Did the results surprise you? Share your thoughts with us in Comments below or on the Savvy Psychologist Facebook page (we know they're going to be awesome!). 


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Bruno, A., Quattrone, D., Scimeca, G., Cicciarelli, C., Romeo, V.M., Pandolfo, G., et al. (2014).  Unraveling exercise addiction: The role of narcissism and self-esteem.  Journal of Addiction, 2014: 987841.

Campbell, W.K., Bosson, J.K, Goheen, T.W., Lakey, C.E., & Kernis, M.H. (2007).  Do narcissists dislike themselves “deep down inside”?  Psychological Science, 18, 227-229.

Campbell, W.K. & Foster, C.A. (2002).  Narcissism and commitment in romantic relationships: An investment model analysis.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 484-495.

Fox, J. & Rooney, M.C. (2014).  The Dark Triad and trait self-objectification as predictors of men’s use and self-presentation behaviors on social networking sites.  Personality and Individual Differences, 76, 161-165.  

Jezior, K.L., McKenzie, M.E. & Lee, S.S. (2015).  Narcissism and callous-unemotional traits prospectively predict child conduct problems.  Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 4, 1-12.  

Konrath, S., Meier, B.P. & Bushman, B.J. (2014). Development and validation of the Single Item Narcissism Scales (SINS).  PLoS One, 9: e103469.


Medical Disclaimer
All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. 

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