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The Evil Queen's Dilemma: Linking Narcissistic Admiration And Rivalry To Benign And Malicious Envy

Jens Lange, Jan Crusius, Birk Hagemeyer

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It is widely assumed that narcissists are envious. Nevertheless, evidence supporting this claim has remained elusive. In five studies (N = 1,225), we disentangle how grandiose narcissism predicts divergent envious inclinations. Specific facets of narcissism and forms of envy shared the same underlying motivational orientations (Study 1) and distinctively related to each other (Studies 1 to 5) via differences in emotional appraisal (Study 4). Moreover, envy was linked to opposing social consequences of different narcissism facets (Study 5). Specifically, hope for success related to narcissistic admiration, predicting benign envy, which entails the motivation to improve performance, translating into the ascription of social potency by the self and others. In contrast, fear of failure related to narcissistic rivalry, predicting malicious envy, which entails hostility, translating into the ascription of a proneness for social conflict by others. These results converged with envy measured as a trait (Studies 1 and 5) or state in recall tasks (Studies 2 and 4) and as response to an upward standard in the situation (Study 3). The findings provide important insights into narcissists‘ emotional complexities, integrate prior isolated and conflicting evidence, and open up new avenues for research on narcissism and envy. Copyright © 2016 European Association of Personality Psychology