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On the Self-regulatory Dynamics Created by the Peculiar Benefits and Costs of Narcissism: A Contextual Reinforcement Model and Examination of Leadership

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A new model of narcissism is presented, the contextual reinforcement model. This model describes an area where narcissism will be largely beneficial to the self and, to a lesser extent, to others. This “emerging zone” includes situations involving unacquainted individuals, early-stage relationships, and short-term contexts. The costs of narcissism are seen primarily in the “enduring zone.” These are situations involving acquainted individuals, continuing relationships, and long-term consequences. A dynamic in which narcissists cyclically return to the emerging zone is described. Research on the functioning of narcissism in leadership settings is presented as a case study of the contextual reinforcement model. Implications for understanding self-enhancement more broadly are discussed.
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Keywords: Leadership; Narcissism; Self-enhancement

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA 2: Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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