Henry L. Roediger, III


James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Arts & Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

ABSTRACT | National Narcissism as a Form of Collective Narcissism

Collective narcissism refers to the egocentric favoritism that people ascribe to their own groups relative to other groups. Most research has been aimed at relatively small groups (e.g., clubs, sports teams, sororities). My presentation will present data from two projects aimed at assessing egocentric tendencies. In one study, we asked 6831 people in 35 countries “What contribution do you think the country you are living in has made to world history?” with a slider for them to indicate a percentage from 0 to 100%. Our prediction was that U.S. citizens would make especially high judgments because the theme of American exceptionalism has dominated political discourse in the U.S. for the past 60 years. Although Americans provided high estimates, people from other countries (e.g., Russia) provided much higher figures. A second study asked a similarly worded question to 1338 people about their country’s contributions to winning World War II (for 8 Allied countries) or their contribution to the losing effort (3 Axis countries). People in three Allied countries estimated their country’s contribution to be greater than 50% (the U.K., the U.S. and Russia, the highest). These studies provide comparative measures of collective narcissism, and discussion will focus on reasons for the extraordinarily high values in both studies. One probable cause of such overclaiming of responsibility lies in the availability heuristic: Information that comes easily to mind is over weighted.