If you"ve ever before had a companion who flirted through other human being right in prior of you, chatted increase attractive strangers and also tried to make you feel favor you couldn"t measure up, well, possibly you were dating a narcissist.

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And possibly they were doing that on purpose.

New research suggests that people who have a high level the narcissistic traits strategically induce jealousy in their mates as a means to meet specific goals: Control, in part cases, or a rise in their self-esteem.

"There is some element of normality come narcissists, in the they go after goals much like everyone else does," said study author Gregory Tortoriello, a psychologist at the college of Alabama. "We"re just finding the it"s to a slightly greater degree."

Unraveling narcissism

Psychological research suggests that narcissistic personalities fall into two categories. The an initial is grandiose narcissism, significant by entitlement, extroversion and high self-esteem. Grandiose narcissists are an extremely self-assured, Tortoriello said Live Science.

The 2nd category, breakable narcissism, describes people who are an in similar way entitled and willing to exploit world to get what castle want. But vulnerable narcissists have an "inherent fragility," Tortoriello said. They space insecure, and have low self-esteem.

Tortoriello and his colleagues were intrigued by earlier research mirroring that narcissists often sabotage your romantic relationship with actions like flirting with various other people. Researchers have theorized the these love-killing behaviors are impulsive and also that narcissists can"t assist themselves. But Tortoriello and his team doubt there can be much more to the story.

The researcher asked 237 undergraduates come fill out questionnaires around their personality traits, jealousy-inducing behaviors and also the motives because that those behaviors. They found that the an ext narcissistic the person, the much more likely they were to try to do their romantic partner jealous.

play games

The factors for this romantic head gamings varied through the kind of narcissism, though. Grandiose narcissists report being motivated by your desire to gain power and also control in ~ the relationship. Vulnerable narcissists, top top the other hand, tried come induce jealousy for multiple reasons. Control was one, together with testing the relationship"s strength, seeking defense in the relationship, compensating for low self-esteem and also exacting revenge because that what they regarded to be your partner"s negative behavior. <6 scientific Tips for a effective Marriage>

"They are, follow to ours study, inducing jealousy in your partners as a means to go after some higher goal," Tortoriello said. "They"re doing the intentionally."

There are constraints to the study. The data to be self-reported and the researchers can"t prove causation, just correlation, between narcissistic traits and jealousy-producing behaviors. The undergraduate study populace isn"t representative that the human being at large, yet college students execute offer one advantage, Tortoriello said: They"re actually higher in narcissistic traits than the basic population. (This might reflect one actual increase in narcissism or it could be a side effect of the kind of questions asked in surveys, Tortoriello said. The side effects include things young civilization might be more likely than older world to respond positive to, like just how much they reap seeing themselves in the mirror.)

The college student in the examine weren"t pathologically narcissistic; castle didn"t have narcissistic personality disorder, the most too much version the narcissism, the researchers said. However the result could use in clinical therapy for an ext severe cases, Tortoriello said. For example, the idea the narcissistic civilization pursue goals just like anyone else — albeit with less worry for those they can hurt — argues that it could be fruitful to try to adjust those goals.

"They would, in theory, probably find other methods to satisfy those goals that room equally, if not much more maladaptive, so ns think perhaps tempering the objectives themselves might be useful," Tortoriello said.

The findings showed up March 29 in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Original write-up on Live Science.

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Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the civilization of human and also animal behavior, and also paleontology and other scientific research topics. Stephanie has actually a Bachelor of arts in psychology from the university of southern Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the university of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and also poked hot lava with a pole in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from eastern Tennessee, the worldwide center because that salamander diversity. Monitor Stephanie ~ above Google+.