Integrating Normal and Pathological Measures of Narcissism
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Narcissism is understood and assessed differently across the most commonly used measures, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI; Raskin & Hall, 1979) the Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI; Pincus et al., 2009), and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) items of the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire-4 (PDQ-4; Hyler, 1994). Due to these differences, the range of the severity of narcissism each measure covers and the different abilities of each measure to reliably determine a person’s level of narcissism remain unclear. The use of Item Response Theory (IRT) remedies these issues by allowing each of the three measures to be linked and then compared on the same metric. The three measures were completed by a sample of 587 undergraduate participants. The latent construct was formed by items of the PDQ-4 and was designed to reflect narcissism as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5; American Psychological Association, 2013) and the ability of each measure to indicate that latent continuum was calculated and analyzed. Results show that the PDQ-4 provided statistically significant information from .03 to 2.68 SDs of the latent continuum. The NPI provided statistically significant information across a broader swath of the latent continuum, from -.88 to 3.71 SDs. The PNI provided statistically significant information across the widest range and spanned across -4.0 to 4.0 SDs of the latent continuum. Therefore, when considering how optimally to measure DSM narcissism, evidence suggests that the PNI will likely be best suited to do so and will afford more precise measurement of the more severe ranges of narcissism.
Busch, Alexander James (2017). Integrating Normal and Pathological Measures of Narcissism. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from