Background: There are significant gaps in our understanding of vulnerable and
grandiose narcissism in adolescents and whether it is associated with psychosocial
difficulties as well as risk factors such as child maltreatment.
Objective: The aim of this study was to examine vulnerable and grandiose narcissism in
adolescents and young adults.
Method: 570 participants (ages 14-21) from the community completed an online survey.
Vulnerable and grandiose narcissism were assessed with the Pathological Narcissism
Inventory, while psycho-social difficulties were assessed with the Child Behaviour Checklist
and maltreatment with the Childhood Experiences of Care and Abuse Questionnaire.
Results: Gender-specific age trends were identified, with narcissism appearing to decrease
with age for females, while increasing for males into early adulthood. For females,
vulnerable and grandiose narcissism was associated with maltreatment and partially
mediated the relationship between abuse and neglect and internalizing and externalizing
Conclusion: These findings underscore the importance of considering the relationship
between childhood maltreatment experiences and suggest that the relationship between such
experiences and adolescent psychosocial difficulties may be partially accounted for by the
negative impact that maltreatment has on narcissism.