The issue of Americans' levels of narcissism is subject to lively debate. The focus of the present research is on the perception of national character (PNC) of Americans as a group. In Study 1, American adults (N = 100) rated Americans as significantly more narcissistic than they perceived themselves and acquaintances. In Study 2, this finding was replicated with American college students (N = 322). PNC ratings of personality traits and externalizing behaviors revealed that Americans were perceived as disagreeable and antisocial as well. In Study 3, we examined the broader characteristics associated with PNC ratings (N = 183). Americans rated the typical American as average on a variety of characteristics (e.g., wealth, education, health, likability) and PNC ratings of narcissism were largely unrelated to these ratings. In Study 4 (N = 1,202) Americans rated PNCs for different prespecified groups of Americans; as expected, PNC ratings of narcissism differed by gender, age, and occupational status such that American males, younger Americans, and Americans working in high-visibility and status occupations were seen as more narcissistic. In Study 5 (N = 733), citizens of 4 other world regions (Basque Country, China, England, Turkey) rated members of their own region as more narcissistic than they perceived themselves, but the effect sizes were smaller than those found in the case of Americans' perceptions of Americans. Additionally, members of these other regions rated Americans as more narcissistic than members of their own region. Finally, in Study 6, participants from around the world (N = 377) rated Americans as more narcissistic, extraverted, and antagonistic than members of their own countries. We discuss the role that America's position as a global economic and military power, paired with a culture that creates and reifies celebrity figures, may play in leading to perceptions of Americans as considerably narcissistic.
- Perceptions of national character
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Psychology