Roommate narcissism & satisfaction

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Narcissism, Communication Competence, and Relational Satisfactionin Roommate RelationshipsAbstract

Narcissism, an elevated view of ones self, can be dysfunctional in ongoing relationships. We explored relationships between narcissism, communication competence, and reports of relational satisfaction among roommates. One hundred seven dyads (44% male) completed actor-observer reports of the Narcissism Personality Inventory, and one roommate also completed Rubin and Martins Interpersonal Communication Competence scale and Hendricks Relationship Assessment Scale referring to the roommate. There was a substantial correlation between actor and observer reports of narcissism (r = .57), small correlation between perceived narcissism and relational satisfaction (r = -.25), and roommates who planned to continue the relationship indicated lower narcissism. Sex make-up of the dyads had no impact on perceptions of narcissism, competence, or satisfaction. The relationships among narcissism and diverse components of competence consistently reflected positive associations with some aspects of competence, e.g., social relaxation, but negative associations with others, e.g., empathy. These analyses are congruent with existing literature and extend the narcissistic construct into communication and dyadic roommate relationships.Keywords: narcissism, communication competence, relational satisfaction

Narcissism, Communication Competence, and Relational Satisfactionin Roommate RelationshipsCommunicators who are narcissistic are regularly discussed, but the ramifications and communication components of the pattern are not well understood. Narcissism was defined by Raskin and Terry (1988) as self-admiration that is characterized by tendencies toward grandiose ideas, fantasied talents, exhibitionism, and defensiveness in response to criticism (p. 896). The fascination with this personality dimension has developed within field of Psychology for decades, only to recently be considered as a viable domain among Communication scholars (Aviram & Amichai-Hamburger, 2005; Bergman, Fearrington, Davenport, & Bergman, 2011). Our daily interpersonal interactions are fueled by individual personality traits that can either cultivate or undermine important relationships, so it is essential to understand how narcissism affects our interpersonal perceptions in close relationships.No matter the stage of life, when cohabitating with another person, personality traits grow increasingly difficult to mask. Therefore narcissism, at its peak classified as a personality disorder (Buss & Chiodo, 1991), is very salient in roommate relationships, even at sub-clinical levels. Given that the prosocial factors of narcissism (e.g., tendencies to charm and entertain),conflict so strongly with the antisocial tendency to manipulate and evade closeness, questions remain about the relationship between narcissism and others perceptions of a narcissists communicative competence, and subsequently reports of relational satisfaction with a narcissist. NarcissismSeverely underdeveloped in the field of Communication, most of what is understood about narcissism has been developed in Psychology. To this point scholars have reported positive relationships between narcissism and extraversion (Holtzman, Vazire, & Mehl, 2010; Raskin & Hall, 1981), aggression (Bushman & Baumeister, 1998), anger after rejection (Twenge & Campbell, 2003), and psychoticism (Raskin & Hall, 1981), and a negative relationship with agreeableness (Holtzman et al., 2010). These empirical reports highlight the narcissists ability to attract others through socially desirable behaviors, followed by the difficulty in building relationships after the first impression, when undesirable communication behaviors emerge. This background supports Morf and Rhodewalts (2001) narcissistic paradox that claims, as [narcissists] yearn and reach for self-affirmation, they destroy the very relationships on which they are dependent (p. 179).Narcissism in interpersonal relationships may be recognized through expressions of entitlement, exploitation, and a lack of empathy (Raskin & Terry, 1988). The narcissistic paradox can be functional in meeting the needs of a narcissist if that individual can motivate the companion to stay in the relationship without an increase in cost to the narcissist. However when cohabitating with a narcissist, the trait-like behaviors (e.g., entitlement and exploitation) should become increasingly apparent to his or her roommate regardless of the roommates own level of narcissism. Morf and Rhodewalt (2001) classify the internal narcissistic system as automatically operating in a chronically vigilant state to detect opportunities for self-enhancement or potential departures from self-affirmation (p. 188). This statement suggests that the roommate should begin to notice a pattern of antisocial behavior and will potentially lose interest in investing further into the relationship. When this occurs, the narcissist will begin to notice a decline in rewards and reciprocate a loss of interest in the relationship, soon transitioning dependence to a new companion. Considering these implications, the length of cohabitation should be inversely related to narcissism scores. H1: There will be a negative relationship between partner reports of roommate (actor) narcissism and length of cohabitation. Attribution BiasAttribution Theory (Emmons, 1987) explains the likelihood for people to seek credit for positive outcomes and place blame for outcomes that are negative. Scholars have also recognized the cognitive aspect of the theory claiming the attributor understands attributional implications when deciding to take credit or place blame (Mizerski, Golden, &Kernan, 1979). In a roommate dyad where conflict may be inevitable, the attribution bias should begin to take a toll early in the relationship. Considering the presumed tendency for narcissists to employ negative attribution biases in support of their self-presentational concerns (Harvey & Weary, 1984; McCullough, Emmons, Kilpatrick, & Mooney, 2003; Raskin & Terry, 1988), these biases not only have the potential to affect roommate relationships, but also participant responses on self-report surveys. Canary and Spitzberg (1990) note two attribution biases that are relevant to data collection, salience and actor-observer bias. Salience is the tendency to reference more extreme, undesirable communicative behaviors when reporting about another person rather than relying on less noticeable behaviors that align with interpersonal expectations (Canary &Spitzberg, 1990). The actor-observer bias is the tendency to excuse ones own behavior with contextual details while neglecting a similar courtesy for the partner (Canary &Spitzberg, 1990). In recognition of these biases, the current study will collect both actor and partner reports of narcissism to measure for (in)congruencies, and only partner reports of perceived communicative competence and relational satisfaction. While the current study will test for actor-partner agreement, it should be noted that previous research has found high correlations between peer ratings and self-reports of narcissism (Emmons, 1984; 1987).H2: There will be a positive relationship between actor and partner reports of narcissism. Communication Competence and Roommate SatisfactionInterpersonal communication competence is an impression or judgment formed about a persons ability to manage interpersonal relationships in communication settings (p. 33; Rubin & Martin, 1994). During the relational development process, members of an interpersonal relationship build internal understandings of one another then employ cues during interactions to communicate understanding and outline the relationship (Weger & Canary, 2010). Furthermore, absence of communication is related to negative perceptions of roommates, which tends to inhibit relational growth (Weger & Canary, 2010). While Sillars (1980) maintains that a regular pattern of information exchange will theoretically lead to conflict reduction, increased levels of narcissism (both real and perceived) may not be conducive to relational satisfaction between roommates. Similar to the findings with narcissism, self-other assessments of general roommate communication behaviors consistently report agreement, regardless of relational quality; this is the first argument for why the current study collected actor-observer data. Kurtz and Sherker (2003) found that accuracy in ratings among roommates was not sacrificed in poor relationships. Interestingly, reports of a good relationship were related to higher ratings of other than self on agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness and lower ratings of other than self on neuroticism. Additionally, roommates who perceived higher levels of conscientiousness, the only trait with a stand-alone positive correlation to relational quality, reported a stronger relationship (Kurtz &Sherker, 2003).Many of the traits examined by Kurtz and Sherker (2003) relate to communication competence, and indirectly support earlier literature linking competence to satisfaction (Duran & Zakahi, 1988). But interestingly extraversion is associated with both liking and narcissism (Kurtz & Sherker). Here we see evidence of the paradoxical nature of narcissism and must consider the many diverse, and potentially conflicting, ways this personality trait can be expressed. Because narcissists use relationships for their own needs and to enhance their self-esteem, they may be particularly communicatively skilled in early stages of relationships, but less agreeable and charismatic as relationships proceed. For example, Martin and And