Examining the role of egotism for judgment and decision-making biases and risk-taking
Lakey, Chad Eric
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In this research, I sought to examine the extent to which judgment and decision-making biases and excessive risk-taking might characterize narcissistic individuals or those with fragile high self-esteem, especially following threats to the ego. Given the ego-involvement and excessive reactivity of narcissists and those with fragile high self-esteem, I believed that subsequent to ego-threat, in an attempt to bolster their feelings of self-worth these individuals would evidence an especially strong myopic focus on reward in Study 1 as measured by the Iowa Gambling Task (Bechara et al., 1994). Similarly, in Study 2 I predicted that subsequent to ego-threat, these individuals would display especially high levels of overconfidence, risk-willingness, and thereafter objective performance decrements (i.e., earn relatively little money) as measured by the Georgia Gambling Task (Goodie, 2003). Neither of these broad predictions were supported in either study. The manipulation was ineffective in Study 1 at altering individuals’ risk-taking decisions, although participants did experience especially negative moods as a function of being in the ego-threatening condition. In Study 2, I found that participants in the control condition earned significantly more money than those in the ego-threat condition as a function of being less overconfident. In fact, participants in the control condition were actually underconfident. Risk-taking (i.e., bet acceptance) did not differ as a function of experimental condition. Inconsistent effects for narcissism and fragile self-esteem were found across the two studies. The discussion focuses on explaining these inconsistent, and surprising, findings and offers some potential avenues for future research.