Title

Examining Vulnerable Narcissism and Depression Through the Lens of Reward Devaluation Theory

Presenter Information

Jess FeezorFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Major

Psychology

Minor

Art

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Gage Jordan, PhD

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Depression is a heterogenous concept, associated with a myriad of symptoms, antecedents, and consequences. Recent research has attempted to further examine the link between features of narcissism and depression. Narcissism can be conceptualized into two distinct profiles: a “grandiose” version, wherein narcissistic individuals tend to engage in self-promotive tendencies; and a “vulnerable” version, wherein narcissistic individuals are aggressive or devaluative of other people, largely due to their own insecurities (Back et al., 2013; Miller et al., 2011).

This in-progress research will seek to further clarify the relationship between vulnerable narcissism (VN), as recent work has suggested positive associations between VN and depression (Erkoreka & Navarro, 2017). However, there is less evidence as to how VN and depression are associated. Drawing from a theoretical perspective of depression, termed Reward Devaluation Theory (RDT; Winer & Salem, 2016), symptoms of depression are maintained via active avoidance of positivity (e.g., devaluation of reward or happiness). As such, we propose that RDT will further explain the link between VN and depression by emphasizing qualities of avoidance of positivity. That is, we predict that participants endorsing higher levels of VN will also endorse greater depressive symptoms. However, we propose that fear of happiness will mediate this relationship, such that VN will be associated with fear of happiness, which, in turn, will be associated with depressive symptoms. Put another way, VNs who devalue themselves will come to avoid positivity, leading to further exacerbation of depressive symptoms. This study is currently collecting data via Murray State’s SONA system and will propose to further collect from Amazon’s MTurk to ensure further generalizability. Other relevant measures included in this study will assess dimensions of aggression and self-esteem. As such, this research may help further refine conceptualizations of VN and depression by examining active avoidance of positivity, which is often not emphasized in either conception (e.g., hallmark conceptualizations of depression focus on “negativity biases”).

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Examining Vulnerable Narcissism and Depression Through the Lens of Reward Devaluation Theory

Depression is a heterogenous concept, associated with a myriad of symptoms, antecedents, and consequences. Recent research has attempted to further examine the link between features of narcissism and depression. Narcissism can be conceptualized into two distinct profiles: a “grandiose” version, wherein narcissistic individuals tend to engage in self-promotive tendencies; and a “vulnerable” version, wherein narcissistic individuals are aggressive or devaluative of other people, largely due to their own insecurities (Back et al., 2013; Miller et al., 2011).

This in-progress research will seek to further clarify the relationship between vulnerable narcissism (VN), as recent work has suggested positive associations between VN and depression (Erkoreka & Navarro, 2017). However, there is less evidence as to how VN and depression are associated. Drawing from a theoretical perspective of depression, termed Reward Devaluation Theory (RDT; Winer & Salem, 2016), symptoms of depression are maintained via active avoidance of positivity (e.g., devaluation of reward or happiness). As such, we propose that RDT will further explain the link between VN and depression by emphasizing qualities of avoidance of positivity. That is, we predict that participants endorsing higher levels of VN will also endorse greater depressive symptoms. However, we propose that fear of happiness will mediate this relationship, such that VN will be associated with fear of happiness, which, in turn, will be associated with depressive symptoms. Put another way, VNs who devalue themselves will come to avoid positivity, leading to further exacerbation of depressive symptoms. This study is currently collecting data via Murray State’s SONA system and will propose to further collect from Amazon’s MTurk to ensure further generalizability. Other relevant measures included in this study will assess dimensions of aggression and self-esteem. As such, this research may help further refine conceptualizations of VN and depression by examining active avoidance of positivity, which is often not emphasized in either conception (e.g., hallmark conceptualizations of depression focus on “negativity biases”).