They become leaders and then suck at it.
Last year, a study found that people assigned to work in groups rated the most narcissistic people the best leaders. But that was the opposite of the truth — actually, groups headed by narcissists made the worst decisions. Said study author Barbora Nevicka, “The narcissistic leaders had a very negative effect on their performance. They inhibited the communication because of self-centeredness and authoritarianism.”
The only good news here: narcissism may not be as prevalent as some people claim. Even though narcissism-doomsayers, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, say our country is going to the self-absorbed, mirror-gazing, other-people-ignoring dogs, other research has found that young people may not be any more narcissistic than they’ve always been. A 2008 study looked at 25,000 undergrads from 1996-2007, and compared their data with similar surveys from the seventies and eighties. Here’s what they found: “Today’s youth seem to be no more narcissistic and self-aggrandizing than previous generations. We were unable to find evidence that either narcissism or the closely related construct of self-enhancement has increased over the past three decades.” So narcissists may be awful in all sorts of ways, but at least they’re probably not multiplying.