Skip to content

Are Narcissists Smarter Than Other People?

Narcissists Smarter Than Other People

Are narcissists highly intelligent? The way they select and psychologically groom their prey may suggest they have above average intelligence. But are manipulation, exploitation, abuse and lying signs of intelligence? Are narcissists smarter than normal people?

Are narcissists smarter than others?

Are narcissists smart? I am pretty sure they are. Are all narcissists smart? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you think narcissists are smarter than other people, then you may need to think again. 

Narcissists are often highly confident, charming, attractive, mentally tough, goal-oriented and charismatic. These traits, when exhibited in a calculated manner, can often create the illusion of intelligence.

Moreover, narcissists truly believe that they are exceptionally intelligent, smart and talented and this confidence can often leave us feeling confused. In fact studies show that narcissism is closely related to self-assessed intelligence. But does that mean they are smarter than you?

Related: What Is Narcissism?

Before answering “are narcissists smarter?”, let us first define ‘smartness’ in this context so that we are all on the same page. Smartness refers to intelligence and one’s ability to be witty, learn from experience, think quickly in challenging situations and adapt to different environments.

Now let’s consider what people with narcissistic personality disorder tend to be like. Narcissists tend to –

  • Have a sense of entitlement
  • Be exploitative and manipulative
  • Have a grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Be passive aggressive
  • Criticize & demean others excessively
  • Be envious of others
  • Need admiration, validation and praise constantly
  • Have poor self-esteem

Do these striking qualities of a narcissist seem like signs of intelligence? No. Not at all. Now I am not saying narcissists can’t be smart, they can be. But being a narcissist does not predispose you to intelligence. There are individual differences when it comes to the level of intelligence in a person, whether you are a narcissist or not. 

Are narcissists smarter than others?
Are narcissists smarter?

Relationship between narcissists and intelligence

So are narcissists smarter than other people? No. Narcissists think they are smart. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s delve into what science has to say about it.

There is no significant relationship between narcissism and intelligence, according to researchers. A research paper, which analyzed 50 students, found that “Intelligence and narcissism are such qualities and traits that completely depend upon an individual.

However, another 2020 study, which analyzed the link between intelligence and grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism, found that narcissists tend to have intelligence-related beliefs and emotions.

Grandiose narcissists tend to have higher “self-perceived intelligence” than “objective intelligence”. Moreover, they also have low engagement in cognitive performance as well. 

However, vulnerable narcissism was not linked to self-perceived intelligence. As vulnerable narcissists do not believe they have superior or inferior intelligence, the study couldn’t reach a conclusion about their level of intellect. Regardless,Both forms of narcissism (grandiose and vulnerable) were unrelated to objective intelligence,stated the study.

Related: 8 Signs You Are Dealing With A Vulnerable Narcissist

Another 2019 study from the University of Waterloo found that narcissists are not necessarily as smart as they think. The authors of the study found that grandiose and vulnerable narcissists are “less likely to use critical thinking processes” and reflective thinking strategies necessary for making decisions and solving problems.

Hence, their confidence in their own intelligence is “often misplaced.” The study also found that when vulnerable narcissists try cognitive reflection, they become confused as it turns out to be an “ineffective experience” for them.

Things narcissists do to appear smarter.
Are narcissists smarter?

So it seems science has a definitive answer when looking at the question – are narcissists smarter? Maybe not. 

One 2002 study did find some relationship between IQ and narcissism while comparing cognitive abilities in the Dark Triad personalities. The researchers found a small but notable positive association between subclinical narcissism and intelligence or cognitive ability.

So what does this mean? Are narcissists smarter than the rest of us? Not necessarily. Regardless of how self-glorifying a male or female narcissist may be, they are not as smart as they believe themselves to be.

However, this does not mean that they can’t be intelligent. As I said before, intelligence primarily depends on the individual and is not determined by a person’s narcissistic personality disorder.

Related: 9 Genuine Signs of Intelligence That People Can’t Fake

Pages: 1 2 3

Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts