Facial emotion recognition and socialcognitive correlates of narcissistic features

Chiara De Panfilis, Camilla Antonucci, Kevin B. Meehan, Nicole M. Cain, Antonio Soliani, Carlo Marchesi, John F. Clarkin, Fabio Sambataro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is associated with both seeming indifference and hypersensitivity to social feedback. This study evaluated whether rejection sensitivity and empathic difficulties in NPD are accounted for by altered facial emotion recognition (FER). Two-hundred non-clinical individuals self-reported NPD features, rejection sensitivity, and empathy and performed an FER task assessing the ability to determine the presence or absence of an emotion when viewing neutral and negative facial stimuli presented at varying emotional intensities (25%, 50%, 75%). Those with higher NPD features were faster at accurately recognizing neutral and low, 25%-intensity emotional stimuli. This response pattern mediated the association between NPD features and increased anger about rejection. Thus, individuals with high NPD traits are hypervigilant toward subtle negative emotions and neutral expressions; this may explain their tendency to experience intense angry feelings when facing the possibility that the others would not meet their need for acceptance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-449
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


  • Emotion sensitivity
  • Empathy
  • Facial emotion recognition
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Rejection sensitivity

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  • Cite this

    De Panfilis, C., Antonucci, C., Meehan, K. B., Cain, N. M., Soliani, A., Marchesi, C., Clarkin, J. F., & Sambataro, F. (2019). Facial emotion recognition and socialcognitive correlates of narcissistic features. Journal of Personality Disorders, 33(4), 433-449. https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi_2018_32_350