A common stereotype of celebrities is that they are vain, crave attention and will do just about anything to be in the spotlight. But are celebrities really more narcissistic than everyone else? To answer this question, Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of the radio show Loveline and a clinical professor of psychiatry, conducted a scientific study to determine the connection between fame and narcissism. Gayle talks to Dr. Drew about his surprising—and not-so-surprising—findings.
To conduct the study, Dr. Drew used a research tool called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) to gather information from 200 celebrities. First, the not-so-surprising results: Dr. Drew says that the study showed that celebrities are in fact significantly more narcissistic than the general population.
However, he says his findings dispel the notion that the entertainment industry somehow makes a person more narcissistic. Rather, already narcissistic individuals seek out the attention that celebrity status brings. Dr. Drew says this behavior has nothing to do with a person being completely full of themselves—a common misconception about narcissism.
It turns out narcissism is not about self love—it's about self loathing, Dr. Drew says. "It's a deep sense of emptiness and a deep disconnect between primary emotional experiences and second order representations of those experiences, such that feelings don't have much meaning and other people's feelings don't have much meaning. They have trouble with intimacy; they have trouble empathizing with other people, and the only way they feel good about themselves is sort of filling themselves up with the positive affects of other people," he says.
So who are the most narcissistic celebrities as a group? Of the dozens of actors, musicians, comedians and reality TV personalities interviewed for the study, Dr. Drew says female reality show contestants were by far the most narcissistic. He says people who were committed to a talent were much less narcissistic. "The people that had a skill—like musicians with deep commitments to their craft—[had] less narcissism," Dr. Drew says. "People on reality shows, they're on TV because, 'Hey, it's me! I just need to be on TV!' And that's a narcissistic impulse."