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Self-worth and politics: the distinctive roles of self-esteem and narcissism

Cichocka, Aleksandra, Marchlewska, Marta, Cislak, Aleksandra (2023) Self-worth and politics: the distinctive roles of self-esteem and narcissism. Political Psychology, . ISSN 1467-9221. (doi:10.1111/pops.12897) (KAR id:100841)

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One of the classic questions in political psychology has been whether feelings of self-worth are relevant for politics. In this review, we summarise seven decades of research attempting to address this question, focusing on three sets of political outcomes: 1) political ideology, 2) political interest and engagement, and 3) intergroup relations. We rely on the distinction between self-esteem (feelings of adequacy and satisfaction with oneself) and narcissism (feelings of entitled self-importance and superiority over others). We argue that this distinction allows us to integrate the literature and explain the mixed effects observed in past research on self-evaluation and politics. Our review points to a key role of narcissistic status pursuit and psychological defensiveness in predicting potentially problematic political attitudes and behaviours. We discuss practical implications these associations might have for democratic functioning and for understanding political leaders. We conclude by identifying outstanding questions and promising new research directions.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/pops.12897
Uncontrolled keywords: self-esteem, narcissism, political ideology, intergroup attitudes, support for democracy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: European Commission (
Depositing User: Aleksandra Cichocka
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2023 12:10 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 16:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Cichocka, Aleksandra.

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