New research suggests people with narcissistic tendencies can be moved by others' suffering

Posted on June 3, 2014

Can narcissists really change? The just-completed half-season of Mad Men, in which the self-centered Don Draper has gradually settled into a new role as a supportive friend and team player, appears to be answering that question in the affirmative. But is this alpha male's evolution into empathy realistic?

Presented with various versions of a vignette in which a person describes a recent break-up, the narcissists displayed a lack of empathy, "virtually irrespective of whether the person's situation is relatively mild or severe (in terms of the pain it caused), and whether that person was somewhat in control, and thus partly culpable, or not."

The bottom line, according to Hepper and her colleagues: "The reason for (narcissists') low empathy is not inability." Caring about another person's problems is not their default response, but this study suggests it can be induced by a simple instruction to see things from his or her point of view.

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Source material from Pacific Standard

Mental Health News