We're obsessed with identifying narcissists. It seems like every week, a new study comes out that tells us how to identify the self-centered individuals among us.

Well, it's that time again, boys and girls. It's time to play your weekly game of "Spot the Narcissist." What does science tell us about how to identify narcissists this time? It's probably completely different from what you were thinking.

It's a commonly held belief that you can tell if someone is a narcissist or not by the words they use when they speak. If they use the first-person singular pronoun "I" a heck of a lot, they're probably a narcissist, right? Wrong! A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that this may not be the case at all.

The researchers, headed by University of Arizona doctoral candidate Angela L. Carey, challenged a 1988 study that found that those in a sample group of 48 who scored higher on the 40-question Narcissist Personality Inventory (NPI) tended to use "I" more. This time, Carey and her research team had 4,811 different male and female subjects from the United States and Germany perform a variety of tasks, including writing essays, telling personal anecdotes, having their Facebook pages analyzed and also taking the NPI.

It turns out that narcissists and non-narcissists alike used "I" about the same amount. The researchers didn't find any statistically significant connection between using "I" and being a narcissist when comparing men vs. women or Americans vs. Germans either.

So why do we think narcissists are more prone to using "I-talk"? Well, the researchers don't know for sure, but they posit that people may just think narcissists use "I" more because they give off so much self-confidence or arrogance when they speak. President Obama, who was accused of using too much "I-talk" around the time of his first election, fell victim to this misperception, according to the study. However, it turned out that he didn't use first-person singular pronouns as much as recent past presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we're that much closer to figuring out how to identify all the narcissists out there, but at least we know how not to do it now. That's not nothing.

Photo: Paško Tomić | Flickr 

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