Washington: Narcissistic traits originate in children when parents overvalue their kids, suggests a new study.
Narcissism can induce aggressive behaviors and an increased risk of mental health problems, but its origins have been unknown.
To assess the cause, Eddie Brummelman and colleagues evaluated 565 children in the Netherlands between the ages of 7 and 11, during which time narcissistic traits are thought to emerge.
The authors administered questionnaires to the children and 705 of their parents four times over a period of 1.5 years to test two opposing theories of narcissistic origins; one theory proposes that children develop narcissistic traits when their parents overvalue them, and the other proposes that narcissistic traits emerge in children whose parents fail to express warmth toward them.
Questions were designed to assess child narcissism, child self-esteem, parental warmth, and parental overvaluation of the child. Statistical modeling of the results revealed that parental overvaluation, but not a lack of parental warmth, predicted changes in narcissistic tendencies in children in subsequent rounds of questionnaires. In contrast, parental warmth predicted high self-esteem in children.
According to the authors, the findings suggest a link between parental overvaluation and narcissism in children.