Heterosexual women bear the brunt of narcissistic heterosexual men's hostility, while heterosexual men, gay men and lesbian women provoke a softer reaction, according to psychologist Dr. Scott Keiller from Kent State University at Tuscarawas in the US. This is likely to be due to women's unparalleled potential for gratifying, or frustrating, men's narcissism. They are crucial players and even gatekeepers in men's quests for sexual pleasure, patriarchal power and status. Dr. Keiller's findings are published online in Springer's journal Sex Roles.
Research to date has shown that narcissists' low empathy, feelings of entitlement, and perceptions of being deprived of 'deserved' admiration and gratification can make them prone to aggression and vengeance.
Dr. Keiller's study looks at whether narcissists' hostility is targeted at heterosexual women and men, gay men and lesbian women in the same way and with the same intensity. Each group represents a different combination of perceived conformity to traditional gender roles on the one hand, and potential for gratifying a heterosexual man on the other.
A total of 104 male undergraduates, aged 21 years on average, from a large university in the Midwest US took part in the study survey. Keiller looked at measures of narcissism, sexist attitudes toward women and traditional female stereotypes, sexist attitudes toward men and heterosexual male stereotypes, and attitudes toward gay men and lesbian women.
He found that men's narcissism was linked most strongly to hostility toward heterosexual women, more so than toward any other group including heterosexual men, gay men and lesbian women. In fact, men's narcissism was linked to favorable attitudes toward lesbians and was unrelated to attitudes toward gay men. Narcissism was not, however, associated with greater acceptance of homosexuality in general.
According to the author, these results suggest that narcissistic men believe that heterosexual relationships should be patriarchal rather than egalitarian.
Dr. Keiller concludes: "The present study suggests that heterosexual men's narcissism is linked to an adversarial and angry stance toward heterosexual women more than toward other groups. Although narcissists may want to maintain feelings of superiority and power over all people, narcissistic heterosexual men are particularly invested in subordinating heterosexual women. The results suggest that narcissistic hostility is associated with a group's potential to provide or withhold gratification rather than ideology about a group's sexual orientation or conformity to heterosexual gender roles."
Explore further: 'Boys will be boys' in US, but not in Asia
More information: Keiller SW (2010). Male narcissism and attitudes toward heterosexual women and men, lesbian women and gay men: hostility toward heterosexual women most of all. Sex Roles. DOI 10.1007/s11199-010-9837-8