Though there's no conclusive evidence in the area, we've seen people who are strongly motivated change their behaviors in areas like superiority simply by increasing their awareness of the trait and how it affects them and their relationships. Of course, such personal development requires a great deal of motivation and a willingness to change. And such change is difficult for those who are highly narcissistic because their narcissistic perceptions and interpretations of themselves allow no alternative explanation. Nevertheless, if you're concerned that you have narcissistic tendencies, and you've documented this quantitatively with the NPI, you would appear to possess at least the self-awareness necessary to effect real change.
Learning to identify and assess your feelings and motivations accurately may come more easily to people who have spent time in therapeutic counseling. Individuals who have been in therapy are often aware of their narcissistic traits and are able to moderate them in their personalities. You might be surprised by what your scores, or the scores of your friends, reflect. Even when we administered the test to celebrities we found some scores that might seem surprising.
After word of our study got around, the producers of Howard Stern's Sirius Radio show asked Mark to administer the NPI to Howard, Robin, and Artie Lange. When Mark called in to the show to discuss the results, he cautioned the cast that they might feel embarrassed if he revealed private information about their psychological makeup on the air.
Howard, of course, didn't see it that way at all. "No, you don't understand, [any of us] would be proud if we were the biggest narcissist on the show," he told Mark. If you've ever heard Howard on the radio, you might expect his narcissism score to be off the charts. In fact, when Mark revealed the scores, Howard's was a modest 15, actually slightly below the national average, and considerably below that of most of the celebrities we tested.
In contrast, his cohost Robin Quivers scored a 34, one of the highest of anyone we tested. And, indeed, Robin's reaction confirmed her highly narcissistic traits. First, she tried to defend her performance by complaining about the test: "I didn't know how to answer any of those questions." Then, she tried to deny the results: "Oh, stop it! That's ridiculous!" Then she tried to shift the blame to others: "You cheated! I think that you must have switched our tests." Underlying her response was a level of aggression typical of a narcissistic personality who has been provoked.