What characterizes egotistical and narcissistic behaviors?
Egotistical and narcissistic behaviors both involve an inflated sense of self-importance and self-focus. However, they differ in the degree of these traits and the underlying motivation.
Egotistical behavior is characterized by excessive self-pride, boastfulness, and a tendency to talk about oneself. Egotism may stem from insecurity or a need for validation (Twenge & Campbell, 2009). People displaying egotistical behavior often seek attention, desire to be admired, and have difficulty empathizing with others (Morf & Rhodewalt, 2001).
Narcissistic behavior is more extreme than egotism and is characterized by an exaggerated sense of superiority, entitlement, manipulative behavior, lack of empathy, and a need for admiration (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013). Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health diagnosis defined by these traits (APA DSM-5). Narcissists also tend to exploit others for personal gain and may have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships (Malkin, 2015).
The main difference between egotistical and narcissistic behaviors lies in the degree of self-absorption and the presence of pathological traits associated with NPD. While both involve self-centeredness, narcissism is more severe in its manifestations and negative impact on relationships.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.
- Malkin, C. (2015). Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — And Surprising Good — About Feeling Special. HarperCollins.
- Morf, C.C., & Rhodewalt, F. (2001). Unraveling the paradoxes of narcissism: A dynamic self-regulatory processing model. Psychological Inquiry, 12(4), 177-196.
- Twenge J.M., & Campbell W.K. (2009). The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. Atria Books.