Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Meredith Elzy


Narcissism can be conceptualized as existing on a continuum between grandiose and vulnerable phenotypes (Pincus & Lukowitsky, 2010). Previous studies found differences between narcissistic phenotypes in terms of behavioral task performance (Wallace & Baumeister, 2002) and emotional reactions to threatening conditions (Besser & Priel, 2010; Zeigler-Hill, Clark, & Pickard, 2008); however, research on emotion dysregulation was lacking in narcissistic populations. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to explore the subjective and objective emotional differences between the grandiose and vulnerable phenotypes of narcissism. In a laboratory manipulation, participants (N=63) completed self-report questionnaires, read emotionally-evocative vignettes describing achievement failure and interpersonal rejection, and completed a behavioral persistence task. Electrodermal activity was also measured to explore emotional variances in narcissism. Results suggest individuals with higher vulnerable narcissistic characteristics will report more negative affectivity following either threatening situation, and higher levels of narcissism predicted an increase in positive affect following an achievement failure scenario. Furthermore, positive relationships exist between various levels of narcissism (i.e., pathological, grandiose, and vulnerable) and difficulties in emotion regulation. These findings depict how grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism differ in their emotional reactivity and self-regulation when faced with threatening situations.