Glaring Difference Between Being a Narcissist and Having High Self-esteem

Narcissists don’t really feel good about themselves, though they feel superior to others; being a narcissist does not mean you are having high esteem.

In a recent study ‘Separating Narcissism From Self-Esteem,’ which was published in journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, findings show the glaring difference between narcissism and self-esteem; we were also made to know that people with high self-esteem only feel good about themselves, but do not feel superior to others.

At first blush, narcissism and self-esteem seem one and the same, but they differ in their very nature, said Dr Eddie Brummelman, the lead researcher. Narcissists feel superior to others but aren’t necessarily satisfied with themselves.

A narcissist only seeks to be admired by others, and sometimes gets angry; while people with high self-esteem see and value themselves, but not as valuable than others.

While discussing self confidence tips for children, the study’s authors professed that regulating children with low self-esteem may cause high levels of narcissism:

[Instead] parents and educators [should] express affection and appreciation to children without proclaiming them to be superior to others.

Researchers also talked about ways to help people with low self-esteem against picking narcissistic self-beliefs on their way to high self-esteem:


5 Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers


…nudging individuals away from their superiority beliefs (e.g., by having them think about what makes them similar to others) reduces narcissism levels.

Helping people internalize others’ appreciation (e.g., by having them describe the meaning and significance of others’ kind words) raises self-esteem levels, especially among those who need it the most: low self-esteemers.


The distinction between narcissism and self-esteem has important implications for intervention efforts, said Dr Brummelman. It is therefore important to develop interventions that curb narcissism and raise self-esteem.

Further reading: Current direction in Psychological Science.

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