Grandiose and vulnerable narcissism (GN/VN) are theorized to form two opposite coping strategies aimed at regulating self-esteem in face of a threat, especially negative feedback in social context. To test this, we examined the relationships of GN and VN with self-appraisals in social context, and hypothesized that GN would predict positive explicit self-appraisals, and less positive implicit self-appraisals, whereas VN would predict negative explicit self-appraisals, and less negative implicit self-appraisals. We also hypothesized that social rejection would increase the negativity of all predictions except for a more positive GN-explicit self-appraisals relationship.
Israeli undergraduates (N = 117) were randomly allocated to social rejection (n = 58) or control (n = 59) conditions. Social rejection was induced via the Cyberball.
Under control and rejection conditions, Higher VN predicted negative explicit self-appraisals, whereas higher GN predicted positive explicit self-appraisals. However, only following rejection, higher VN predicted negative implicit self-appraisals and higher GN predicted positive implicit self-appraisals, though to a lesser extent than they predicted explicit self-appraisals.
We concluded that narcissistic explicit strategies are stable and unaffected by social situations. However, rejection may affect automatic processes congruent with the narcissistic strategy.