Narcissism and Intrinsic Motivation: The Role of Goal Congruence

Carolyn C. Morf*, Charlene Weir, Maayan Davidov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of narcissists' chronic preoccupation with satisfying ego concerns on intrinsic motivation. Extending Harackiewicz and Sansone's (1991) "goal-matching" model, we hypothesized that intrinsic motivation depends on the congruence between the goals supported by the environment and the chronic goals the individual brings to the situation. High and low narcissistic students were randomly assigned feedback emphasizing either ego goals (competence is assessed relative to others) or mastery goals (competence is self-referential). Consistent with prediction, male narcissists experienced the most enjoyment, most positive affect, and least apprehension in the ego-goal conditions, whereas low narcissists showed the highest intrinsic motivation with mastery-focused goals. Potential gender differences in narcissism are considered to explain the absence of this pattern for females. The findings extend current understanding of the phenomenology of narcissism, as well as supporting the "goal-matching" model. Discussion revolves around the processing dynamics of male narcissists and possible negative consequences of their continual struggle to demonstrate competence relative to others.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)424-438
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study investigated the effects of narcissists’ chronic preoccupation with satisfying ego concerns on intrinsic motivation. Extending Harackiewicz and Sansone’s (1991) “goal-matching” model, we hypothesized that intrinsic motivation depends on the congruence between the goals supported by the environment and the chronic goals the individual brings to the situation. High and low narcissistic students were randomly assigned feedback emphasizing either ego goals (competence is assessed relative to others) or mastery goals (competence is self-referential). Consistent with prediction, male narcissists experienced the most enjoyment, most positive affect, and least apprehension in the ego-goal conditions, whereas low narcissists showed the highest intrinsic motivation This study was supported in part by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC 410-96-0513) awarded to the first author. A preliminary report of these data was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, Lexington, Kentucky, October 1998. The authors thank all of the members of the Morf Lab at the University of Toronto, but especially Janine Moffett, Donna Ansara, and Andrea Turner for their invaluable assistance in design suggestions and data collection. We are also grateful to Lisa Aspinwall and Walter Mischel for comments on an earlier version of this paper.

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