Saying ‘I’ and ‘me’ all the time doesn’t make you a narcissist

man looking in mirror

MR. SUPERIOR  Narcissists can be obnoxiously self-important, but they don’t use pronouns such as I and me any more than people with uninflated egos do, a new study finds.


Narcissism is not in the I’s of the beholder — or the speaker. People who utter lots of first-person singular pronouns such as I and me score no higher on narcissism questionnaires than peers who engage in little I-talk, researchers report March 30 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Narcissism scores of 4,811 U.S. and German volunteers, mostly college students, were compared with their speech patterns on oral and written communication tasks.  Participants with an elevated sense of superiority and self-importance showed no special affinity for I-talk, contrary to popular opinion.

Another possibility, the researchers suggest, is that narcissists frequently use absolutely, every, and other words signaling total certainty in what they’re saying.

Bruce Bower

Bruce Bower has written about the behavioral sciences for Science News since 1984. He writes about psychology, anthropology, archaeology and mental health issues.

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