Perfectionism and narcissism: Testing unique relationships and gender differences

Theoretical models suggest narcissists’ grandiose but fragile self-concept leads them to impose perfectionistic demands onto others and to promote an image of perfection in pursuit of others’ admiration. It is unclear which perfectionism dimensions are uniquely related to narcissism and if the relationship between perfectionism and narcissism generalizes across men and women. The present study addresses these important gaps in knowledge. Other-oriented perfectionism and perfectionistic self-promotion were hypothesized to be positively related to narcissism. Potential differences between men and women were also explored. A sample of 983 undergraduates completed measures of trait perfectionism, perfectionistic self-presentation, perfectionism cognitions, and narcissism. As hypothesized, other-oriented perfectionism and perfectionistic self-promotion were both positively and uniquely related to narcissism. The perfectionism–narcissism relationship generalized across the men and the women in this study. Somewhat unexpectedly, nondisplay of imperfection was negatively and uniquely related to narcissism. The present study represents the most comprehensive test of the perfectionism–narcissism connection to date. Results support theoretical models suggesting narcissistic perfectionists are demanding, hyper-critical, entitled, and grandiose individuals who impose their need for perfection onto others and who engage in brash self-promotion of their (supposed) perfection to others.