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Narcissism on the Jersey Shore: Exposure to Narcissistic Reality TV Characters Can Increase Narcissism Levels in Viewers

Author(s): Gibson B, Hawkins I, Redker C, Bushman BJ


Recent research documents an increase in narcissism in the United States. Little research, however, has explored mechanisms that could cause higher narcissism. In 2 studies, we test the hypothesis that exposure to narcissistic reality TV characters is related to greater narcissism for those engaging in experience taking (Kaufman & Libby, 2012). Study 1 is a correlational study showing that greater exposure to narcissistic reality TV while engaged in experience taking is related to higher levels of narcissism. Study 2 is an experimental study showing that participants randomly assigned to watch a narcissistic reality TV show, under conditions that encouraged experience taking, were more narcissistic. These results suggest that media can shape trait narcissism levels that are generally assumed to be stable.

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