Men on average are more self-absorbed than women are, according to a new study published in the March edition of Psychological Bulletin.
Researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Management analyzed data from more than 475,000 participants taken over the course of 31 years and found that men consistently scored higher in tests for narcissism, regardless of age.
The scientists studied gender differences in three features of narcissism: leadership and authority, exhibitionism and entitlement. They looked at how people responded to statements like, “If I ruled the world, it would be a much better place.” Researchers found a large gap between the genders in the categories of leadership and entitlement, suggesting that men are more likely than women to believe they deserve privileges and pursue opportunities. But men and women were equally as exhibitionist.
“Compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power,” lead author Emily Grijalva said on the University of Buffalo website. “But there was no difference in the exhibitionism aspect, meaning both genders are equally likely to display vanity or self-absorption.”
The researchers said that the narcissism gap between genders likely stems from ingrained societal gender stereotypes. Women who are taught they are not as worthy of leadership roles as men are less likely to believe they deserve them or are entitled to them.
“Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations,” Grijalva says. “In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior.”