The impact of perspective taking on the relationship between narcissism and affective empathy
The current study aimed to conceptually replicate a study conducted by Hepper, Hart, and Sedikides (2014) that examined the impact of a perspective taking manipulation on the relationship between narcissism and affective empathy. Currently, the nature of the relationship between narcissism and affective empathy is unclear due to mixed findings in the literature. Thus, two competing hypotheses were tested: (1) the affective empathy malleability hypothesis in which there is a negative relationship between narcissism and affective empathy, but this relationship is greatly reduced or ceases to exist when participants engage in perspective taking, and (2) the affective empathy rigidity hypothesis in which there is a negative relationship between narcissism and affective empathy, and this relationship persists regardless of a perspective taking manipulation. To test these hypotheses, participants were presented with a story about an ostensible person in distress, and were randomly assigned to one of two perspective-taking conditions. Self-reported experiences of state and dispositional empathic concern and personal distress were acquired, and narcissism was measured using two different narcissism inventories. Results indicated partial support for both hypotheses for grandiose narcissism and personal distress, but indicated no support for either hypothesis for vulnerable narcissism and empathic concern.