People who have narcissistic tendencies are more likely to support hierarchies, according to research by Emily M. Zitek, assistant professor at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Two hundred to 400 people answered questions in five separate studies, which collected information through online surveys.
Narcissistic people favor hierarchies because of a perceived potential to rise to the top, rather than other reasons, such as a desire for order, findings suggest. “Our research underscores the need for leaders to thoughtfully consider the effects that company structure can have—not only on employees’ performance and satisfaction but also on the very types of people those employees will be,” the authors wrote.
The research also found evidence that narcissistic people tended to overestimate their performance and so might overestimate their ability to rise to the top in hierarchical groups when those groups used performance as a basis for promotion.
The research has implications for business because whether a business is perceived as hierarchical or not might influence whether narcissistic-tending people apply for jobs there, according to Zitek. If a business advertises itself as a place where people can rise in rank, it might attract a disproportionate number of people with narcissistic tendencies, she said.
Zitek’s coauthor is Alexander H. Jordan, an assistant research professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and adjunct assistant professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Their findings were published online in May and in print by Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Source: Cornell University