Take the narcissism test! Or don’t.

Now I don’t know whether to believe this article or not: it claims that self-assessment of narcissism is just as accurate as taking a psychological inventory, because narcissists aren’t shy about saying what they are. So I tried it myself: on a score of 1-7, I gave myself about a 3.

The haters are already howling that I’ve just disproven the premise.

So I also took the Narcissistic Personality Quiz. I got a score of 6 out of 20, well below average. I got my highest subscore on “exhibitionism” — no, not that kind — which I’m going to credit to my job, which demands that I get up and be the center of attention in small groups of people.

I expect any narcissists in the commentariat to take the tests and brag about their high score below.


  1. carlie says

    I scored a 2 – only positive hits were in the area of authority. Which, interestingly, I’ve never really sought out, but things have to get done and somebody has to do them, and now that I’ve done it I find that I’m not half bad at it. Well, maybe half bad, but no more than that. I think.

  2. says

    What if we brag about our low test score? I scored a 3.

    That quiz was VERY shoddily written, with a number of questions having answers that are not mutually exclusive: I could have answered @24 either way (“I expect a great deal from other people” / “I like to do things for other people”), because they aren’t two sides of the same coin and they’re both true of me, and I would imagine most other people as well (and so my answer to #9 was “I am no better or worse than most people”).

  3. marcus says

    Score: 14 Not very impressed with the test itself. I’m sure I would have done better. :)

  4. says

    9 here, with a large (4) authority component, which is fair; I often end up leading things like sports teams, being a referee, that kind of small to medium group, usually because I’ve got the most experience. I do well at it because I apply the lessons I learned from my military leadership courses, and from my studies of history. I don’t really look for it, but if there’s no leader yet, I’m often the first to suggest some plan or division of labour, and thus get it by default.

    Pleased to note I had zero in a couple of areas; I don’t like manipulating people much, apparently, or exploiting them. This makes sense, as I prefer to lead by example and by explicit logic, because motivation is easier to achieve when each member understands both their own and the overall goal. If I have to fool someone into working with me, I’ve failed; similarly, outside extreme situations, exploitation tends to fragment groups, and so again to failure.

    Interesting self-assessment tool.

  5. Nick Gotts says

    I scored 10, but I think the test underrated my self-sufficiency (if that has anythnig like its usual meaning) and over-rated my authority – I’m not keen on either giving or following orders. So far here, marcus is in the average range, everyone else below; yet most of us are regular commneters, who presumably at least think their own ideas are worth others paying attention to!

  6. twas brillig (stevem) says

    I WON!!!1111!!!! I am NOT a Narc-.-.-.-
    my scores:
    Narcissistic Trait || Strength of Trait
    Authority: 0.00
    Self-Sufficiency: 2.00
    Superiority: 1.00
    Exhibitionism: 0.00
    Exploitativeness: 0.00
    Vanity: 0.00
    Entitlement: 1.00
    but, but, but. The questions were so obvious:: which would be the narc answer and which the humblebum. I tried to be totally honest. Honest! I really did.
    So why did PZ tell us to take this quiz, again?

  7. says

    From the SGU podcast on August 7, episode 474, the single question is not as accurate as the 40 question test, but is better than the researchers thought it would be.

  8. says

    I don’t find them all mutually exclusive. Eg: #5: The thought of ruling the world indeed frightens the hell out of me, but I thing that if I ruled the world it would be a better place.

    Any way, I scored a whopping 7!

  9. Dark Jaguar says

    Some of these comments are pretty surprising. I for one am CERTAIN that if I ruled the world it would be worse than it is now. I’m actually pretty terrible, and thus have rather low expectations of others. I think a general rule of thumb is to expect more from yourself than from other people. That seems a good way to live.

  10. The Mellow Monkey says

    I scored 10.

    Authority: 3.00
    Self-Sufficiency: 0.00
    Superiority: 3.00
    Exhibitionism: 1.00
    Exploitativeness: 2.00
    Vanity: 0.00
    Entitlement: 1.00

    That seems about right to me. On the one hand, I am horrified and flee from hearing anyone else’s opinions on me/my work…and on the other, I’m in a field where I’m inundated with other people’s opinions about me/my work. Gotta find a balance for that somehow.

  11. karmacat says

    The questions are simplistic. The questions also overlap with antisocial and histrionic traits. Of course, no person has just narcissistic personality disorder. For some there is overlap with histrionic, borderline or antisocial traits. Kohut and Kernberg describe contradictory kinds of narcissistic personality disorders. What they really show is there are different kinds of narcissistic personality disorders.

  12. chimera says

    Well, guess I’m superior and entitled. Figures. I’m a 7.

    Authority: 1.00
    Self-Sufficiency: 1.00
    Superiority: 2.00
    Exhibitionism: 0.00
    Exploitativeness: 0.00
    Vanity: 1.00
    Entitlement: 2.00

  13. vytautasjanaauskas says

    Here’s the breakdown.

    Authority: 5.00
    Self-Sufficiency: 5.00
    Superiority: 3.00
    Exhibitionism: 4.00
    Exploitativeness: 1.00
    Vanity: 0.00
    Entitlement: 3.00

  14. ChasCPeterson says

    It’s a meta-quiz: if you take it and then post a comment talking about yourself you’re pegging the meter.

  15. says

    I scored 13, which is higher than most of the scores reported here although in the average range. My highest subscore was in Superiority.

  16. marcus says

    vytautasjanaauskas @ 20 Well, I guess we should just consider ourselves lucky that you deigned to stop by and share. :)

  17. Trebuchet says

    I got a ten but forgot to check on the more detailed characteristics. The quiz was annoying because many of the questions weren’t mutually exclusive and I could have clicked both.

  18. John Horstman says

    PZ, your link to the quiz is to the results page. The test page is here. Also, regarding answers with multiple possible answers – that’s intentional (or at least it’s intentional on similar psych inventories, though I’m dubious with regard this one, since these also require specific testing conditions to be considered valid and must be administered by trained professionals to make sure those conditions are met). It’s part of the test method to see which descriptor people choose when presented with multiple valid options.

  19. rabidwombat says

    I got a 7. My highest scores were for authority and exhibitionism. I’m pretty sure the authority one is because there’s always at least one useless, incompetent, slacker trouble-maker that everyone else is frustrated with, at almost every job I’ve ever had. I’ve always wished I had the authority to fire them. :)

  20. rabidwombat says

    I’m not sure it was really long enough though. I’ve taken similar evaluations, but there are hundreds of cross-referenced questions that are repeated over and over. The idea is you eventually forget the “right” answer you gave previously. Then contradictory answers are averaged for a more accurate score.

  21. says

    I guessed I would score a 15 (top of average range) and got a 17 (bit above average range), so I’m hitting pretty close to the predicted people-know-how-narcissistic-they-actually-are claim.

  22. rabidwombat says

    Chas, Chas, Chas. I have to disagree with you. I think it’s far more narcissistic for you to come in here for the sole purpose of dropping your smug little “gotcha” comment, than it is for the rest of us to discuss our scores.

  23. says

    I’m a 6, which sounds about right. Apparently I have a mild cae of Special Snowflake-itis.

    Authority: 2:00
    Self-Sufficiency: 0.00
    Superiority: 2.00
    Exhibitionism: 2.00
    Exploitativeness: 0.00
    Vanity: 0.00
    Entitlement: 0.00

    Pretty sure I was born to and raised by two 20-plussers, and once married another one (<–not a coincidence).

  24. ShowMetheData says

    It didn’t actually name me specifically.
    What is the point of a narcissism test if it’s not specifically about me and designed for me in my favourite colours and mentioning the important things about me.
    Sorry, test people – you failed that test.

  25. AlexanderZ says

    Also a 7.

    On the quiz I wanted to mark “I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve.” but then I imagined the kind of things I really deserve and quickly switched to the other option. Also, for some reason I was only scored on “authority”.

  26. Ogvorbis says

    Narcissistic Trait
    Authority: 2.00
    Self-Sufficiency: 0.00
    Superiority: 0.00
    Exhibitionism: 0.00
    Exploitativeness: 0.00
    Vanity: 0.00
    Entitlement: 0.00

    Two things. First, my ‘Authority’ score stems from me taking the lead in trying to involve as many people as possible in discussions and projects.. Second, I like to get credit for what I have done but I also realize that, with what I have done, it would not be so much credit as it would be punishment. Third, maybe this is depression talking. Or not.

  27. toska says

    I had the same thoughts re depression when I took the test. The answers tended to be two extremes, and I try hard in my every day life to not go the “I hate myself” route. As I took the test, I just kept thinking that some of these are the things I try so hard (and fail) not to say about myself.

  28. essjay says

    Interesting. I scored exactly the same as Carlie and Ogvorbis: 2 in authority only. I could have written their comments word for word. Since I like to think I am competent, but modest, I guess a score of 2 is appropriate. Also, since I greatly admire both Carlie and Ogvorbis (along with many other members of the Horde), it’s nice I scored the same as they did. I have a problem with both depression and anxiety (mostly controlled with medication), but on reflection I don’t think that my answers would have been different if I weren’t suffering from depression.

  29. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    Hi, ogvorbis! Nice to ‘see’ you!

    I scored a 4. I think I’m an exceptional person with valuable opinions, but I don’t expect people to want to listen to them; and I have no taste for power.

  30. anteprepro says

    The narcissism test: The only winning move is not to play.

    Also speaking of narcissism and meters: Chas, chiding people for being narcissistic.

  31. Numenaster says

    I got a 12, putting me at the far edge of the population commenting here but at the low end of average according to the results page. And most of that’s from my whopping 5 points in “Superiority”: I’m smart, and I know it. And I also know that just being smart counts for exactly nothing unless you have a whole bunch of other skills that let you make use of the smarts. Mensa is full of people whose smarts haven’t helped them much in having a happy or successful life, by whatever definition you like for either term.

  32. Suido says

    I got a 21 (out of 40, right? That’s how many questions there were), but I’m happy with the spread of those values – scoring very high in authority and exhibitionism, but very low on exploitativeness and entitlement.

    I’m an irrepressible show-off and entertainer, and it makes me happy to be so.

  33. David Marjanović says

    The very first question:

    “I have a natural talent for influencing people. I am not good at influencing people.”

    I don’t interact with people enough to have found out if I influence them.

    Or number 8:

    “I will be a success. I am not too concerned about success.”

    Uh, what if you’re convinced you won’t be a success, and very concerned about that? I thought that was a common condition?

    11: “I am assertive. I wish I were more assertive.”

    WTF. That’s like the Visa Card ad: “either you have one, or you need one”. What if I’m neither assertive nor wish I were more so? Was that unimaginable to the writers of that quiz?

    Why have just two options for each question in the first place?

    12: “I like to have authority over other people. I don’t mind following orders.”

    Neither mutually exclusive nor anywhere near an exhaustive sample of the possibilities.

    13: “I find it easy to manipulate people. I don’t like it when I find myself manipulating people.”

    I haven’t tried to manipulate people, and I’d find it very difficult… so perhaps it’s not surprising I’ve never found myself accidentally manipulating anyone either…?

    There’s repetition:

    4: “When people compliment me I sometimes get embarrassed. I know that I am good because everybody keeps telling me so.”
    26: “Compliments embarrass me. I like to be complimented.”

    15: “I don’t particularly like to show off my body. I like to show off my body.”
    19: “My body is nothing special. I like to look at my body.”

    FFS. Did they want to count the answers to certain questions double, but couldn’t program giving them double weight?

    Incompetent psychology quizzes make me angry. I don’t like quackery.

  34. Al Dente says

    I got 7. My high score of 3 was in authority, not surprising since I’ve been in leadership positions for most of my adult life. I got 2s in superiority and exhibitionism.

  35. carlie says

    I also wondered about depression – a lot of the comments that were obviously supposed to be the non-narcissist ones are also pretty much identical to statements designed to screen for depression. So could depression cure narcissism? Or the other way around? (Or is the test just bad?)

  36. says

    Which test was which?
    I took the 40 question test, I think that was the 1-20 test? I forget. My memory sucks.

    Anyway, I got a zero.
    I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing.
    Also, it forced me to answer some things more positively than I really felt (prefer to blend in with the crowd rather than be the center of attention – where was the “stay home and avoid the crowd at all costs” option?)
    I might have gotten a negative score otherwise.

    lol. These questions seem to assume you’re not pretty much a shut-in in self-imposed internal exile. :P

  37. jonmoles says

    I can’t speak to the necessity of the format or how the questions were formed/paired because that isn’t an area of expertise for me, but from a layman’s perspective my overall impression is that this test sucks.

    #1. – What’s wrong with having a natural talent for influencing people, it doesn’t mean that I misuse it.
    #4. – Because compliments don’t embarrass me now I’m a narcissist?
    #5. – If I ruled the world it would be a better place. Well, take a look at who we have now, I’d have to be an improvement, doesn’t mean I’m the best person for the job, far from it, but the bar is currently set very low.
    #6. – So I’m a good liar, that doesn’t mean I’m lying to you, right now.
    #12. – Wish there was an option for neither on this one. I don’t like having authority over others and I hate taking orders.
    #13. – Again, just ’cause I’m good at it doesn’t mean I do it (very often).
    #30. – None of the above. I don’t care about attention but it doesn’t frighten me.

    Overall it seems like being confident and be a narcissist are hard to differentiate in this quiz.

  38. says

    #1 is not about whether having a talent to influence others is narcissistic. It’s a question designed to get at how you gauge your own influence/talent/importance.
    Similar with number 5… its not about whether or not you are more honest or more moral, etc.
    Its about whether or not you judge yourself to be capable of ruling the world.

    You’d have to be an improvement? Who says? Do tests of your talents and views and management techniques say that? No, YOU say that. That’s the point of the question.

  39. says

    I quit after about three questions, because the options were ridiculous. It’s not an either/or between things like “sometimes being embarassed when you’re complimented” and “I know I’m great because everyone tells me so.” Neither applies to me. Same with that twaddle about having a natural gift for influencing people or not being able to influence them. Sometimes I influence people, sometimes I don’t, duh. Fucking idiotic, I’m not lying about myself to answer their questions.

  40. says

    Narcissistic Trait
    Authority: 0.00
    Self-Sufficiency: 0.00
    Superiority: 0.00
    Exhibitionism: 0.00
    Exploitativeness: 0.00
    Vanity: 0.00
    Entitlement: 0.00

    Yeah. I literally scored a -0- on this one. What does that mean?

  41. says

    Well the problem I see with the test is that you would have to be a not very bright narcissist.
    Assuming that narcissists tend to be manipulative, I think a reasonably intelligent one would know enough how to fake the test.

    Which means my zero score REALLY indicates that I am the cleverest, most narcississiest of them all!

  42. ChasCPeterson says

    I think it’s far more narcissistic for you to come in here for the sole purpose of dropping your smug little “gotcha” comment, than it is for the rest of us to discuss our scores.

    Haha! Yeah, my little joke was pretty narcissistic because…because…wait, because why?

    Also speaking of narcissism and meters: Chas, chiding people for being narcissistic.

    Haha! Yeah, it’s so hypocritical, me being a well-known narcissist because…because…wait, because why?

    You guys know, right, that “narcissism” has a specific meaning?

  43. Suido says

    @jonmoles #51:

    It reads like a lot of psychometric tests – repeating similar questions with slightly different wordings or emphasis, presumably to draw out more honest answers as the test progresses, or reach some level of statistical robustness. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll leave to the people with better understanding of extracting psychological information from people via surveys.

    Your comments about the abilities mentioned in questions is interesting, because you seem to have lost sight of the aim of the quiz. It’s not intended to find out how good you are at influencing people, or taking charge, or lying. It’s intended to find out how proud/extroverted/vain or humble/introverted/modest you are. Answering that you’re good at lying indicates a certain degree of pride in your own abilities, it doesn’t matter whether you lie a lot or not.

    However, the test did say a “normal” range is in the low teens – see below:

    Between 12 and 15 is average.
    Celebrities often score closer to 18.
    Narcissists score over 20.

    That implies the creators of the test understand that there are healthy levels of self-interest and self-appreciation – a reasonable amount of self-confidence, for example. No single answer makes you a narcissist (#4. – Because compliments don’t embarrass me now I’m a narcissist?), but many answers may indicate you’re more narcissistic than most people.

  44. says

    Jafafa Hots

    Well the problem I see with the test is that you would have to be a not very bright narcissist.
    Assuming that narcissists tend to be manipulative, I think a reasonably intelligent one would know enough how to fake the test.

    Giving socially desirable answers instead of honest ones is a well-known problem for all kinds of questionaires that study social or psychological factors.
    Well done questionaires often include a bunch of questions where they know that people tend to fake the answer, things that nobody admits but we know almost everybody does.
    That’s why psychological evaluation questionaires are usually much longer and can still be totally off. I had the pleasure to answer a looooooong one when my daughter was screened for autism. Because that questionaire was developed for typical forms of autism it left me deeply frustrated because it just didn’t ask the right questions in order to describe her. That’s why in the end the psychologist said that from the interaction with her and the free conversation with us he could see that she was outside of neurotypical, but the diagnostic questionaire put her into the perfectly average neurotypical category.

  45. lorn says

    3. With only authority and self-sufficiency showing up on the radar.

    What is the opposite of a narcissist?

  46. says

    I’m not an expert, but the inventory this is based on is probably just intended to diagnose narcissism, rather than provide insight for “normal” people. It looks like the website has tried to adapt it for non-narcissists, but many such inventories lack norms, or data on non-clinical populations.

    Also, the phrasing of such questionnaires doesn’t need to even be logical. All that’s necessary is that people with the condition reliably choose some options over others, and people without the condition don’t. So as long as it reliably distinguishes narcissists from non-narcissists it really doesn’t matter how the items are phrased or whether they even make sense.

  47. David Marjanović says

    I feel like something is wrong with me for scoring -0-.

    It probably means you underestimate yourself.

    That’s a lot easier to live with, I’m sure, than overestimating yourself and then finding out the hard way!

    So as long as it reliably distinguishes narcissists from non-narcissists it really doesn’t matter how the items are phrased or whether they even make sense.

    Well, does it? Has this been tested in a way that doesn’t rely on a test that doesn’t make sense?

  48. procrastinatorordinaire says

    @David Marjanović #63

    I feel like something is wrong with me for scoring -0-.

    It probably means you underestimate yourself.

    That’s a lot easier to live with, I’m sure, than overestimating yourself and then finding out the hard way!

    I disagree. Codependency is as unattractive and difficult to cope with as narcissism. Everyone needs a modicum of self-belief and confidence.

  49. vytautasjanaauskas says

    @procrastinatorordinaire 64

    Another way to look at it would be that self confidence is sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I cannot really imagine a case were you think you can be awesome at something, keep doing it and not become better at it as a result. I would much rather be a borderline narcissist than lack confidence and drive.

  50. rabidwombat says

    PZ @ 33 Ha! Exactly. Then xe shows up to cement the point. Funny stuff!

    Oh Chas …it’s one of those self-explanatory things.

  51. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re @47: David Marjanović wrote stuff:

    There’s repetition:
    Incompetent psychology quizzes make me angry. I don’t like quackery.

    That this is a Psychology Test is what makes look so unlike a “Normal” Test. The gotta reword some questions, repetitively, to measure consistency and to more deepity into the brain taking the test about itself. I’ve (yes, ME, it’s all about me, cuz I aint no narcissist ;-) I’ve taken a few psychology tests (for reasons I won’t get into) and noticed that the same, but rephrased, questions would be asked many times. And because of the quantity of questions and time constraints I would often abandon trying to remember how I answered the previous version of said question, and I think that’s the whole point of constructing such a “test”.
    And now I’m stuck in a loop: is it narcissistic to tell you how humble I am? Is it narcissistic to think that everything you know is correct and worth sharing with all the ignorants around you while simultaneously knowing you know nothing and need to listen to all the knowledge ones talking around you? I’m stuck. I not a narcissist so you gotta take care of me. Right. Now. ;-|

  52. Crimson Clupeidae says


    You guys know, right, that “narcissism” has a specific meaning?

    So does ‘clueless’. :D

  53. badgersdaughter says

    A 9. But I know myself. People have indeed always tended to view me as an authority and to listen to me, just naturally, all my life. That’s one of the things that made me an excellent corporate trainer. I don’t crave leadership, but when I’m in charge, people seem happy. In my personal sphere I am trusted to give advice, even when it involves unpleasant truths, but I think everyone is satisfied that I’m trying to help, and I don’t get upset if they choose not to follow my advice. I’m told I project an air of confident intelligence and trustworthiness. While I’m pleased that I do this, and consider myself somewhat gifted because of it, it’s a continual source of surprise to me and I really don’t buy into my own hype (so to speak).

  54. says

    Hohohoho! 23! I am now objectively best human! My highest score was in Superiority, of course. Self sufficiency and Entitlement were next, which I really deserved given how hard I worked on it. And of course I scored high on Vanity, because how could I not when I look like this?