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Narcissism and the strategic pursuit of short-term mating: Universal links across 11 world regions of the International Sexuality Description Project-2

Psychological Topics, 26:89-137.

Previous studies have documented links between sub-clinical narcissism and the active pursuit of short-term mating strategies (e.g., unrestricted sociosexuality, marital infidelity, mate poaching). Nearly all of these investigations have relied solely on samples from Western cultures. In the current study, responses from a cross-cultural survey of 30,470 people across 53 nations spanning 11 world regions (North America, Central/South America, Northern Europe, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Middle East, Africa, Oceania, Southeast Asia, and East Asia) were used to evaluate whether narcissism (as measured by the Narcissistic Personality Inventory; NPI) was universally associated with short-term mating. Results revealed narcissism scores (including two broad factors and seven traditional facets as measured by the NPI) were functionally equivalent across cultures, reliably associating with key sexual outcomes (e.g., more active pursuit of short-term mating, intimate partner violence, and sexual aggression) and sex-related personality traits (e.g., higher extraversion and openness to experience). Whereas some features of personality (e.g., subjective well-being) were universally associated with socially adaptive facets of Narcissism (e.g., self-sufficiency), most indicators of short-term mating (e.g., unrestricted sociosexuality and marital infidelity) were universally associated with the socially maladaptive facets of narcissism (e.g., exploitativeness). Discussion addresses limitations of these cross-culturally universal findings and presents suggestions for future research into revealing the precise psychological features of narcissism that facilitate the strategic pursuit of short-term mating.