Think you're good at spotting personality types? Well, when it comes to recognizing a narcissist, it's not as easy as you think, a study has found.

If you think people who talk a lot about themselves — lots of "I" and "me" sprinkled throughout their conversations — are likely narcissistic, then you'd be wrong, the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says.

For the study, researchers in the U.S. and Germany had almost 5,000 people participate in a test intended to measure their preference for "I-talk" for using the pronouns "I" and "me."

After filling out a questionnaire that rated their level of narcissism, study participants were then told they could choose to talk or write about either themselves or a topic unrelated to them.

After correlating all the data, the researchers were surprised to find that the strength of the participants' egos wasn't linked to their language choice and that people rated as narcissistic proved to have no more of a preference to utilize "I-talk" than people considered less narcissistic.

That proved the case across genders and cultures, the researchers say.

"The most interesting finding is that the results did not vary much across two different countries, multiple labs, five different narcissism measures and 12 different samples," says study author Matthias Mehl. "We were surprised by how consistent of a near-null finding it was."

So, how do you spot the narcissist? The question may be more than academic, especially if you're a hiring manager, for example.

One clue, says study leader Angela Carey from the University of Arizona, is that a narcissist isn't just talking about themselves, they'll more than likely be talking very highly of themselves.

"Some ways to identify whether someone is narcissistic based on their communication patterns might be to pay attention to amount of bragging, efforts to elevate themselves by comparing down to others, as well as efforts to draw attention to oneself and maintain superiority over others," says Carey, a doctoral student in psychology.

Still, flushing out a narcissist isn't easy, say other experts.

Some narcissists actually talk about themselves less than non-narcissists, says Craig Malkin, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School.

"Tagging opinions with 'I' makes them sound subjective instead of like what they're saying is an absolute truth, and narcissists like to think — and prove — that they've cornered the market on truth," he explains. "It's another way of feeling special."

They prefer to make authoritative statements about the way things are rather than how they feel, Malkin says. "Narcissists are arrogant and argumentative, even the shy, quiet types (covert). They're far more likely to interrupt, glaze over when you speak, swear, post provocative pictures, and tag themselves in social media than ever use the word 'I'," he says.

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