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Is Narcissism a Slow Life History Strategy Indicator?: The Answer Depends on the LHS Instrument

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The dark triad (DT) traits are differentially related to psychometrically assessed life history strategy (LHS), such that psychopathy is strongly associated with a faster LHS, whereas narcissism appears to be, if anything, a slow LHS indicator. However, the research supporting these generalizations has been based largely on undergraduate samples in which LHS has been measured using the Arizona Life History Battery (ALHB; or its short version the Mini-K), an instrument that arguably lacks adequate coverage of low-extroversion content linked to a slower LHS. In this study, 929 U.S. MTurk workers completed a set of DT instruments, a 10-item Big Five Inventory, a 42-item version of the ALHB (K-SF-42), and the life history rating form (LHRF), which is less weighted toward high extroversion content than the ALHB. Factor analysis of the DT instruments yielded factors corresponding to callousness, secondary psychopathy, and socially adaptive narcissism (leadership/authority and grandiose exhibitionism). Callousness and secondary psychopathy were fast LHS indicators with respect to both LHS instruments. Socially adaptive narcissism appeared as a slow LHS indicator with respect to the K-SF-42 but as a fast LHS indicator with respect to the LHRF. Variation in extroversion accounted entirely for the K-SF-42's positive association with socially adaptive narcissism. This study suggests that narcissism's apparent status as a slow LHS indicator may be more a matter of measurement than of substance.

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