The metamorphosis of narcissus: Communal activation promotes relationship commitment among narcissists

Eli J. Finkel, W. Keith Campbell, Laura E. Buffardi, Madoka Kumashiro, Caryl E. Rusbult

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Three studies tested the hypotheses that the activation of communal mental representations promotes relationship commitment (communal activation hypothesis) and that this effect is stronger among narcissists than among nonnarcissists (Communal Activation × Narcissism hypothesis). Across experimental, longitudinal, and interaction-based research methods, and in participant samples ranging from college students to married couples, results supported the communal activation hypothesis in two of three studies and the Communal Activation × Narcissism hypothesis in all three studies. Moreover, a meta-analytic summary of the results across the three studies revealed that the association of communal activation with commitment was significant overall and that it was stronger among narcissists than among nonnarcissists. Narcissists tended to be less committed than nonnarcissists at low levels of communal activation, but this effect diminished and sometimes even reversed at high levels. This work is the first to identify a mechanism by which narcissists can become more committed relationship partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1271-1284
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Commitment
  • Communal activation
  • Marriage
  • Narcissism
  • Relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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