Back To Career News

Put 2 Narcissists Together to Boost Group Creativity

It may seem counterintuitive to build teams that include multiple people with narcissistic personality traits; these folks tend to want to be the center of attention and in charge. However, if you want to spur creative thinking and problem-solving in the workplace, this is exactly what you should do.

It may seem counterintuitive to build teams that include multiple people with narcissistic personality traits; these folks tend to want to be the center of attention and in charge. However, if you want to spur creative thinking and problem-solving in the workplace, this is exactly what you should do.

(Photo Credit: Paolo Margari/Flickr)

It makes sense that the belief in one’s own superiority would give narcissists the confidence to engage in original thinking and spur creativity. They’re more likely to think, “After all, if it’s my idea, it must be a good one.” In reality, any individual narcissist is no more or less creative than the rest of the population. The key is putting them together, according to the British Psychological Society’s report on new research at Cornell University.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Narcissistic Personality Inventory

The term “narcissism” is overused today, and every person who likes to be the center of attention or has an especially healthy dose of confidence does not qualify for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In short, narcissism as a personality trait is excessive self-love. We all need to have some appreciation for ourselves, but like so many good things, too much may be problematic.

Test subjects at Cornell University completed a standardized measure of narcissism to place them in either the narcissistic or control groups. They then took creativity tests; the results were that the two groups scored in the same range for creativity, even if the narcissistic group thought they were more creative and capable.

It may seem like a bad idea to ask narcissists to work together. However, that is exactly what the researchers did. They put narcissists in pairs and controls in pairs, and gave each pair a creativity test to work on as a team. The narcissistic pairs excelled. One interpretation is that the need to be the best caused a healthy level of competition and creative tension. Knowing that in order to succeed they had to work together, they worked together and did well.

At Work

Team leaders can use this tidbit of psychological research to spur creativity, original thinking, and problem-solving in the workplace. Put those confident, in-charge, and center-of-attention-loving employees together as a duo or part of a larger team, and watch them bring improvements to the business.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you work with people who seem overconfident? What do you think would happen if they worked together? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.