Narcissistic Entitlement Definition
Narcissistic entitlement refers to a belief that one’s importance, superiority, or uniqueness should result in getting special treatment and receiving more resources than others. For example, individuals high in narcissistic entitlement think that they should get more respect, more money, and more credit for doing the same work as everyone else. Narcissistic entitlement also includes a willingness to demand this special treatment or extra resources.
Context and Importance on Narcissistic Entitlement
Narcissistic entitlement contains three components. At the root of narcissistic entitlement, individuals believe that they are uniquely superior. That is, they believe that they are different from others in ways that make them superior. Second, individuals with high levels of narcissistic entitlement feel that they are more deserving of special treatment and limited resources by virtue of their superiority and uniqueness. Finally, they are likely to demand the special treatment and resources to which they believe they are entitled (e.g., receiving a bigger handful of candy than the other children at a holiday party or a paycheck that is larger than what comparable individuals earn). These demands may be in the form of verbal statements, but may also include aggressive and even violent behavior.
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Special treatment can include a wide range of things but in general refers to an expectation of treatment that is unique (and usually better) from how others are treated. For example, individuals with high levels of narcissistic entitlement might demand the best seat at a restaurant or not to have to wait in line when everyone else does. They might demand to be called “Sir” or “Doctor” at all times. They might refuse to allow other individuals to be critical of or challenge their thoughts or ideas (a courtesy that they might not reciprocate).
Narcissistic entitlement is traditionally measured with a short subscale of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory as proposed by Robert Raskin and Howard Terry in 1988. This scale has proven to predict narcissistic behavior very well, but also to lack in statistical reliability. As a result, W. Keith Campbell, Angelica M. Bonacci, Jeremy Shelton, Julie J. Exline, and Brad J. Bushman have created other stand-alone measures of entitlement that have greater reliability.
Narcissistic entitlement can have both positive and negative outcomes for the entitled individual. When individuals act in a narcissistically entitled way, they may actually receive better treatment or greater resources than others (and more than they deserve). For example, the person at the airline counter who says he is a very important business person and demands to be seated in first class might actually end up in a first class seat. However, acts of narcissistic entitlement are often perceived by others as rude, selfish, and even pathetic. If upon landing, the businessman appears lost, the other passengers might simply ignore him rather than offering directions. Indeed, narcissistic entitlement by individuals often leads to scorn and replies such as, “Who died and made you king?”
Narcissistic entitlement can be a short-term and context-dependent state of mind. An individual might display narcissistic entitlement in one situation but not in others. For example, a person may display narcissistic entitlement at home around his younger brother, but not around his peers back at school. Narcissistic entitlement can also be a general feature of an individual’s personality. Some individuals display more narcissistic entitlement than do others across most situations and at most times. For example, a person might insist upon special treatment from her parents and deference from her younger sister, demand an A from a professor in a class when she really earned a C, and expect everyone to pay for her drinks when she is out.
- Campbell, W. K., Bonacci, A. M., Shelton, J., Exline, J. J., & Bushman, B. J. (2004). Psychological entitlement: Interpersonal consequences and validation of a new self-report measure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 83, 29-45.
- Exline, J. J., Baumeister, R. F., Bushman, B. J., Campbell, W. K., & Finkel, E. J. (2004). Too proud to back down: Narcissistic entitlement as a barrier to forgiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87,894-912.
- Raskin, R. N., & Terry, H. (1988). A principle components analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory and further evidence of its construct validity. Journai of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 890-902.