KEY POINTS

  • Narcissists are people who believe they are better than others
  • Study: They also don't see their mistakes and always point at others for every wrong turn
  • While they exude self-confidence, they can be harmful to an organization in the long run

A new study that examines the impact of narcissism on hindsight bias and perceived learning showed that narcissists are oblivious to their own mistakes.

People with narcissistic tendencies do not see mistakes they commit. They also believe they are better, and in some instances, more deserving compared to others. This is what researchers found in the study 'When and Why Narcissists Exhibit Greater Hindsight Bias and Less Perceived Learning.'

Satoris Howes, one of the researchers at the Oregon State University (OSU)-Cascades who conducted the study, in a university news release said that when faced with bad results, a narcissistic person would always point the blame elsewhere but never towards himself. This is despite repeated warnings that they received from others. Because narcissists refused to acknowledge their mistakes, they do not learn from those errors, US News & World Reports revealed.

a narcissist dont see own mistake a narcissist dont see own mistake Photo: Gerd Altmann - Pixabay

In contrast, most people would ask themselves things they could have done to avoid such a poor outcome.

Researchers conducted several experiments involving various groups of people, which include managers with considerable experience in their field, employees, and students. In the case of narcissists, they would oftentimes gloat upon correctly predicting an outcome. For them, the results are foreseeable which others will never see. On the other hand, if the outcome was different from what they projected, narcissists would always reason out that no one could have predicted it.

In both instances, people with narcissistic tendencies are not the type that contemplate or conduct some self-examination, much less think that a better outcome could have resulted had they done things differently. "They're falling prey to the hindsight bias, and they're not learning from it when they make mistakes. And when they get things right, they're still not learning," Howes said.

She revealed that while everyone has the tendency to solely claim credit for a successful outcome and blame failures on external factors, to the point of blaming other people's mistakes on why such failures happen, it is the narcissist who does this more often.

"Narcissists do this way more because they think they're better than others," Howes explained.

She added that narcissists do not listen to advice from other people and they are less likely to trust what others think about something. However, narcissists were also the ones who usually advance early in their careers because they exude a huge amount of self-confidence.

In many instances, they claim credit for the successes of others and are quick to point the blame elsewhere when everything takes a wrong turn. Howes said that such an attitude is harmful for an organization in the long run since it can lower the morale of employees who work under the narcissist. The researchers published their study and findings on June 4 in the Journal of Management.