Why Do Narcissists Care So Much About Intelligence?

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Grandiose narcissists typically pursue agentic goals, such as social status, competence, and autonomy. We argue that because high intelligence is a key asset for the attainment of such agentic goals, the concept of intelligence should play a prominent role in grandiose narcissists’ self-regulation and social behavior. We review the relevant literature and report evidence in support of this claim. Grandiose narcissists consider intelligence to be an important resource that leads to benefits across life domains, they tend to maintain and defend illusory positive intellectual self-views, and they are extremely motivated to appear intelligent to other people. Thus, even though grandiose narcissism is essentially unrelated to objectively assessed intelligence, intelligence nevertheless plays an important role in the way grandiose narcissists think, feel, and behave. We discuss potential implications for social relationships and point toward avenues for future research.