Collective narcissism is a form of in-group identification defined by emotional investment in a belief in an in-group´s unparalleled greatness contingent on external recognition.

We measure collective narcissism with reference to a given in-group with the means of the Collective Narcissism Scale. We always instruct people to think about a concrete in-group when responding to the items of the scale.

It is likely that people will differ with respect to the levels of their narcissistic identification with a given in-group. In this sense collective narcissism can be understood as an individual difference variable.
Published research:

Golec de Zavala, A., Cichocka, A., & Iskra-Golec, I. (2013). Collective Narcissism Moderates the Effect of In-group Image Threat on Intergroup Hostility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 1019-1039. doi: 10.1037/a0032215

Results of four experiments demonstrated that under in-group image threat collective narcissism predicts retaliatory intergroup hostility. Under in-group criticism (vs. praise) collective narcissists expressed intention to harm the offending out-group but not other, non-offending out-groups. This effect was specific to collective narcissism and was replicated in studies that accounted for the overlap between collective narcissism and individual narcissism, in-group positivity (in-group identification, blind and constructive patriotism), social dominance orientation and right wing authoritarianism. The link between collective narcissism and retaliatory intergroup hostility under in-group image threat was found in the context of national identity and international relations and in the context of a social identity defined by university affiliation. Study 4 demonstrated that the relationship between collective narcissism and intergroup hostility was mediated by the perception of in-group criticism as personally threatening. The results advance our understanding of the mechanism driving the link between collective narcissism and intergroup hostility. They indicate that Threatened Egotism Theory can be extended into the intergroup domain.

Golec de Zavala, A., Cichocka, A., & Bilewicz, M. (2013). The paradox of in-group love: Differentiating collective narcissism advances understanding of the relationship between in-group and out-group attitudes. Journal of Personality, 81, 16-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2012.00779.x

Objective. The present studies test the hypothesis that the overlap between collective narcissism and positive in-group identification conceals the opposite relationships these variables have with out-group derogation.Method. Five surveys were conducted in different cultural and national contexts, using different samples (including an adult representative sample) and different intergroup contexts. Results. The results of suppression analyses systematically indicate that when the positive relationship between collective narcissism and in-group positivity is controlled for, the non-narcissistic in-group positivity predicts less out-group negativity, whereas collective narcissism predicts more out-group derogation. Conclusions. The results advance our understanding of constructive and destructive forms of in-group positivity and their different consequences for intergroup attitudes.

Golec de Zavala, A.(2012). Collective narcissism. In D. J. Christie (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell.

Golec de Zavala, A., & Cichocka, A. (2012). Collective narcissism and Anti-Semitism in Poland. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 15, 213-229. doi: 10.1177/1368430211420891

Two studies examined the relationship between collective narcissism—an emotional investment in an unrealistic belief about the greatness of an in-group (Golec de Zavala, Cichocka, Eidelson, & Jayawickreme, 2009) — and anti-Semitism in Poland. The results indicate that this relationship is simultaneously mediated by (a) a belief that the in-group is constantly threatened by hostile intentions of other groups (Polish siege beliefs; Bar-Tal & Antebi, 1992a, 1992b) and (b) a belief that the Jews are a particularly threatening out-group because they secretly aim to dominate the world (the conspiracy stereotype of Jews; Bergmann, 2008; Kofta & Sedek, 2005). These results confirm that collective narcissism predicts prejudice against social groups perceived as threatening. Collective narcissists’ sensitivity to in tergroup threat is composed of beliefs about vulnerability of the in-group and hostility of the out-group.

Cichocka, A., & Golec de Zavala, A. (2011). Kolektywny narcyzm a sprawa polska. [Collective narcissism and the polish issue]. In M. Kofta & M. Bilewicz. Wobec obcych. Zagrozenia psychologiczne a stosunki miedzygrupowe. [Towards others. Psychological threat and intergroup relations]. Warsaw: PWN.

Golec de Zavala, A. (2011). Collective Narcissism and Intergroup Hostility: The Dark Side of ‘In-Group Love’. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5/6, 309-320. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00351.x

This paper reviews current research on intergroup consequences of collective narcissism – an emotional investment in an unrealistic belief in exaggerated greatness of an in-group. Integrating ?ndings of the psychology of intergroup relations with ?ndings regarding psychological outcomes of individual narcissism, the collective narcissism construct addresses the relationship between ‘in-group love’ and ‘out-group hate’. Differentiating between narcissistic and genuine positive group regard uncovers the potential of genuine ‘in-group’ love to motivate positive out-group attitudes and intergroup tolerance. Collective narcissism is also shown to be the aspects of positive group attachment that inspires defensive and retaliatory intergroup hostility under perceived threat. Narcissistic idealization of an in-group is contingent on external validation and underlain by internal doubts. Collective narcissists are never fully satis?ed with external acknowledgement of the in-group and they are sensitive to anything that may undermine the in-group’s exaggerated image.

Golec de Zavala, A., Cichocka, A., Eidelson, R., & Jayawickreme, N. (2009). Collective narcissism and its social consequences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 1074 -1096. doi: 10.1037/a0016904

This article introduces the concept of collective narcissism—an emotional investment in an unrealistic belief about the in group’s greatness—aiming to explain how feelings about an ingroup shape a tendency to aggress against outgroups. The results of 5 studies indicate that collective, but not individual, narcissism predicts intergroup aggressiveness. Collective narcissism is related to high private and low public collective self-esteem and low implicit group esteem. It predicts perceived threat from outgroups, unwillingness to forgive outgroups, preference for military aggression over and above social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism, and blind patriotism. The relationship between collective narcissism and aggressiveness is mediated by perceived threat from outgroups and perceived insult to the ingroup. In sum, the results indicate that collective narcissism is a form of high but ambivalent group esteem related to sensitivity to threats to the ingroup’s image and retaliatory aggression.

Cichocka, A., Golec de Zavala, A., & Olechowski, M. (2012). Defensive and genuine group identification after losing control. Manuscript in preparation.

This research sought to examine changes in national identification in face of control deprivation. Two studies were conducted in the context of an airplane crash in Smolensk, Russia on April 10th 2010 that killed Polish President and several government officials. Experience of such collective trauma strengthens group identification (Moskalenko et al., 2006). It may be due to the experience of loss of control which was demonstrated to motivate worldview defense and in-group bias (Fritsche et al., 2008). We hypothesized that Polish national identification would increase after the airplane crash and that this effect would be driven by the experience of loss of control. Specifically, we predicted a stronger increase in defensive, narcissistic rather than genuine group identification. Two repeated-measures studies compared levels of genuine (ingroup affect, centrality, ingroup ties, Cameron, 2004; collective self-esteem, Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992) versus defensive (collective narcissism, Golec de Zavala et al., 2009) forms of Polish national identification before and after the tragedy. Results confirmed that narcissistic (but not genuine) group identification increased after the crash. This increase was more pronounced among those who reported experiencing loss of control after the airplane crash. In Study 3 experience of control, defensive and genuine identification were measured on two occasions. Cross-lagged analyses demonstrated that feelings of personal control predicted a decrease in collective narcissism and an increase in genuine identification 5 weeks later. Taken together, these results confirm the role of control in shaping different types of group identification.

American National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism

The Collective Narcissism Scale has been used in research conducted by the American National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. in a study among Tamil Tigers

Imhoff, R., Wohl, M., & Erb, H. P. (2012). Just a matter of history? Collective narcissists demand closure on the past to attenuate collective guilt. Manuscript in preparation.

Across three studied, we assessed German’s desire to close the book on the Holocaust i.e., achieve historical closure. In Study 1, desire for historical closure predicted reduced collective guilt acceptance for the Holocaust as well as reparation intentions (independent of political ideology). In Study 2, the effect of a desire for historical closure on collective guilt acceptance and reparation intentions was observed to the extent that members of the perpetrator group held narcissistic belief about the ingroup (i.e,. collective narcissism). Study 3 complemented the aforementioned findings by demonstrating that compared to ingroup glorification, collective narcissism was a more specific predictor of desire for historical closure, which undermined collective guilt and subsequent reparation intentions. Discussion focuses on how the desire for historical closure helps members shield their group from its negative past, thus alleviating perceptions of collective guilt and obligation to repair the harm done.
Collective narcissism is measured with a 9-item Collective Narcissism Scale (Golec de Zavala, Cichocka, Eidelson, & Jayawickreme, 2009). A shorter 5-item version has also been used (Golec de Zavala, Cichocka, & Bilewicz, in press). Paticipants are always instructed to think about a concrete in-group when responding to the items of the scale. Typically, they are asked to indicate the degree to which they agree with a given item using a 6-point scale (1 = I strongly disagree to 6 = I strongly agree).

Below are currently available scale translations.


Agnieszka Golec de Zavala
Goldsmiths, University of London, UK | Homepage

Aleksandra Cichocka
University of Kent, UK | Homepage








Michal Bilewicz
University of Warsaw, Poland
Roland Imhoff
Institut für Psychologie
University of Bonn, Germany | Homepage
Marta Marchlewska
The Robert B. Zajonc Institute for Social Studies
University of Warsaw, Poland
Müjde Peker
Department of Psychology
Bogaziçi University, Turkey | Homepage