Investigating the moral mindset of the narcissist
Cascio, Edward Vito
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Subclinical narcissism is inherently relevant to morality and should thus predict certain aspects of moral judgment, especially when self-sacrifice and social concerns are involved. In two studies I sought to test whether: (a) narcissism moderates the relationship between morally-irrelevant contextual factors and moral judgment and (b) what respective roles self-enhancement and self-concern play in narcissists’ moral judgments. The results of Study 1 indicated that the moral judgments of narcissists were differentially affected compared to those of non-narcissists by how “personal” or “impersonal” were the details of moral dilemmas if the dilemmas involved mortal risk to the self. Narcissists were more likely than non-narcissists to judge in favor of self-preservation if the dilemma was impersonal (involving remote initiation), but less likely to preserve the self if the dilemma was personal (involving close initiation). Study 2 was intended to test the mediational roles of self-enhancement and changes in moral emotion in producing this pattern of responses, but the failure to replicate the results of Study 1 curtailed this effort. Explanations for this replication failure are discussed along with implications for psychological and philosophical theories positing the influence of robust traits on moral judgment.