Session Abstract: Background and Purpose: Narcissism refers to a heightened preoccupation with the self and is characterized by notable deficits in interpersonal and affective responses in a variety of psychosocial domains; it is possible that narcissistic individuals experience increased interpersonal distress and affective dysregulation as a function of heightened rejection sensitivity. This is likely most salient for narcissistic vulnerability, which is more sensitive to negative feedback and threats of rejection than its grandiose counterpart (Dashineau et al., 2019). Recent research has found significant associations between narcissistic vulnerability and interpersonal dysfunction, anger, and social rejection (Miller et al., 2018; Chester & DeWall, 2016; Sasso et al., 2020). This presentation seeks to expand upon existing research by exploring a possible mechanism by which individuals with narcissistic vulnerability experience interpersonal distress. We hypothesized that the relationship between narcissistic vulnerability and interpersonal distress would be mediated by angry affective expectations of perceived social rejection.

Subjects: Subjects for this presentation include 228 undergraduate students who were recruited from a multicultural urban university.

Methods & Materials: Subjects completed three self-report measures: the Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI; Pincus et al., 2009), the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems' Short Circumplex (IIP-SC; Hopwood et al., 2008), and the Adult Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire (RSQ; Downey & Feldman, 1996).

Analyses: Data were analyzed using Preacher and Hayes's (2004) bootstrapping method.

Results: As predicted, analyses found a positive and significant relationship between narcissistic vulnerability and interpersonal distress, mediated by rejection sensitivity.

Conclusions: These results shed light on the nuances linking narcissistic vulnerability to interpersonal dysfunction and the role of rejection and related affect in mediating that relationship, suggesting that those with high levels of narcissistic vulnerability may experience more interpersonal distress as a function of anger-based expectations of social rejection.

Corresponding Author: Courtney Peters | Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP)

Presentation 1 Title: The Mediating Effect of Rejection Sensitivity on the Relationship Between Narcissistic Vulnerability and Interpersonal Distress


Courtney Peters | Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP)

Nicole Cain, PhD | Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP)

Courtney PetersCourtney Peters

Courtney Peters, Psy.M. is a third-year doctoral candidate at the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology (GSAPP). She earned her B.A. from Yale University, and her clinical and research interests include personality assessment and persistent personality pathology in adults. She currently holds a predoctoral externship at the Mount Sinai Morningside (formerly St. Luke's) Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic & Psychiatric Recovery Center.

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