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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Clinical Psychology
- Emotion sensitivity
- Facial emotion recognition
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Rejection sensitivity