Self-conscious emotion traits & reactivity in narcissism

Michelle Schoenleber, Luke R. Johnson, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies investigated the possible divergence between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism with regard to guilt- and shame-related traits and reactivity of these emotions. Participants in Study 1 (N = 688; Mage = 19.5; 64.4% female) completed self-report measures regarding narcissism dimensions, as well as general and self-conscious emotion propensities and aversions. Participants in Study 2 (N = 142; Mage = 18.9; 69.2% female) provided state emotion ratings before and after an imaginal social rejection task, in addition to completing measures of narcissism dimensions. Across both studies, guilt was more relevant to grandiose narcissism. In Study 1, guilt-proneness was negatively associated with grandiose narcissism, but only when guilt aversion was low. Relatedly, Study 2 demonstrated that greater grandiose narcissism was associated with lower guilt reactivity following an interpersonal stressor. Comparatively, in Study 1, shame-related traits were positively associated with vulnerable narcissism, though guilt-proneness was negatively associated with vulnerable narcissism. Additionally, Study 2 indicated that greater vulnerable narcissism was associated with heightened reactivity of both shame and guilt. The present study thus builds on the limited research evidence on self-conscious emotions and narcissism, highlighting the sometimes opposing roles of guilt and shame in relation to these different but related personality dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11546-11558
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Emotional reactivity
  • Guilt
  • Narcissism
  • Shame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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