Relational aggression and narcissistic traits: How youth personality pathology informs aggressive behavior

Kathleen W. Reardon*, Kathrin Herzhoff, Avanté J. Smack, Jennifer L. Tackett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Low agreeableness features centrally in personality profiles of Cluster B personality disorder (PD) diagnoses, and it has been associated with relational aggression (RAgg; intentionally damaging others’ social relationships). Researchers have hypothesized that RAgg may be a potential developmental precursor for Cluster B PDs. However, a dimensional approach to personality dysfunction is preferable to the categorical system found in the current diagnostic manual. To build a bridge between two disjointed literatures (categorical PDs and RAgg), the aim of this project is to detail how RAgg in youth is situated in the trait space represented by disagreeableness in a dimensional model of personality pathology. Caregivers of 911 youth (ages 6–18) reported on youth’s RAgg and disagreeableness. We found that RAgg was most strongly related to three facets: Narcissistic traits, Hyperexpressive traits, and Dominance-Egocentrism traits. Overall, these findings provide support for RAgg as an early manifestation of personality pathology, particularly for narcissistic traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-63
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of personality disorders
StatePublished - 2020


  • Development
  • Narcissistic traits
  • Personality disorder
  • Relational aggression
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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