Much attention has focused on the social, institutional, and mobilization factors that influence political participation, with a renewed interest in psychological motivations. One trait that has a deep theoretical connection to participation, but remains underexplored, is narcissism. Relying on three studies in the United States and Denmark, two nationally representative, we find that those scoring higher in narcissism, as measured by the Narcissistic Personality Inventory–40 (NPI-40), participate more in politics, including contacting politicians, signing petitions, joining demonstrations, donating money, and voting in midterm elections. Both agentic and antagonistic components of narcissism were positively and negatively related to different types of political participation when exploring the subfactors independently. Superiority and Authority/Leadership were positively related to participation, while Self Sufficiency was negatively related to participation. In addition, the combined Entitlement/Exploitativeness factor was negatively related to turnout, but only in midterm elections. Overall, the findings support a view of participation that arises in part from instrumental motivations.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 4. June 2020
- Political participation