The Role of Public and Private Self-Enhancement on Narcissists’ Product Choice

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Ken DeBono




narcissism, benefit, products, product, liking


As consumers, people high in narcissism tend to prefer products that positively distinguish them compared to what people lower in narcissism prefer (Lee, Gregg, & Park, 2013, Lee & Seidle, 2012). In other words, they like products that offer a benefit others can readily observe. This study examined whether those lower in narcissism liked, preferred, or would purchase, the version of a product that advertised an external benefit (public self-enhancement), or over a similar one that promoted an internal benefit (private self-enhancement), or over a similar control version after participants sampled different products. The two products used were sports drinks and body lotions. The results indicated that there were no significant differences across high and low narcissists in liking of the different product benefits. There was a marginally significant interaction of liking of product between benefit and level of narcissism (high and low). That is, the liking of the product based on level of narcissism varied as a function of benefit. There was also a significant effect of liking of the product with the internal benefit by those who ranked lower in narcissism more so than those who ranked more highly in narcissism. This finding suggests that when advertising products to consumers lower in narcissism, compared to those higher in narcissism, it may be more beneficial to emphasize the products’ internal benefits.

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