Parents help create their own little narcissists.

Position::Personality Traits

Children whose parents think they are God's gift to the world do tend to outshine their peers--in narcissism. In a study that aimed to find the origins of narcissism, researchers surveyed parents and their children four times over a one-and-one-half-year period to see if they could identify which factors led children to have inflated views of themselves.

Results showed that parents who "overvalued" their children when the study began ended up with offspring who scored higher on tests of narcissism later on. Overvalued children were described by their parents In surveys as "more special than other children" and as kids who "deserve something extra in life."

"Children believe It when their parents tell them that they are more special than others. That may not be good for them or for society," says Brad Bushman, coauthor of the study and professor of communication at Ohio State University, Columbus.

Bushman conducted the study with lead author Eddie Brummelman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Brummelman indicates that parents with the best of intentions may overvalue their children, thinking that will help boost their self-esteem. "Rather than raising self-esteem, overvaluing practices may inadvertently raise levels of narcissism."

While the dangers of narcissism...

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