ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (11): 1228-1243.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.01228

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Relationship between narcissism and aggression: A meta-analysis

ZHANG Lihua(), ZHU He   

  1. School of Psychology, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China
  • Received:2020-12-19 Published:2021-11-25 Online:2021-09-23
  • Contact: ZHANG Lihua
  • Supported by:
    Social Science Planning Fund Project of Liaoning Province(L19BSH004)


Aggression and violence are prevalent public health problems, tremendously harming individuals, families and society. Supposedly, low self-esteem is an important cause of aggression. However, some researchers have suggested that aggression may be attributable to threatened egoism, that is, the inflated and narcissistic view of self that is threatened, rather than low self-esteem itself. Numerous studies have explored the relationship between narcissism and aggression. However, these results appear somewhat inconsistent in different studies. Therefore, this meta-analysis was conducted to explore the strength and moderators of the relationship between narcissism and aggression.
We included Chinese and English literature from 1965 to 2021. A total of 177 independent effect sizes (121 studies, 73687 participants) were found within the criteria of the meta-analysis. On the basis of the characteristics of studies, we selected the random-effects model. After the data was coded, independent effect sizes were analyzed using Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Version 3.3 program.
The results of the funnel plot and Egger test showed no publication bias. Results showed a significant positive correlation (r = 0.27, 95% CI [0.25, 0.29]) between narcissism and aggression. Additionally, the moderation analyses revealed that the strength of the relationship was moderated by gender and the modes of reporting narcissism, but not by the modes of reporting aggression or culture. Meanwhile, different types of narcissism related differently to aggression, in that covert narcissism was more positively correlated with aggression compared with overt narcissism, and maladaptive narcissism was more positively correlated with aggression compared with adaptive narcissism.
Based on the meta-analysis, narcissism and aggression were closely related. The mechanisms of aggression must be identified to develop effective prevention and intervention strategies to alleviate the public health problems caused by aggression. Future research could: (1) The present study found that the modes of reporting narcissism play a moderating role in the relationship between narcissism and aggression. Therefore, to gain insights into the reporters’ bias and obtain accurate and complete information regarding narcissism, the data of multiple reporters can be employed. (2) Overt narcissism and covert narcissism are distinct structures, and the existing studies on the relationship between narcissism and aggression have paid less attention to covert narcissism. The present study found that covert narcissism is more likely to be a risk factor for aggression than overt narcissism. Therefore, future research could strengthen the exploration of covert narcissism.

Key words: narcissism, aggression, meta-analysis