Consider the Bieber. The 19-year-old pop star has repeatedly engaged in reckless behavior with little consideration for those around him, regularly pairs tank tops with gold chains, and once said that if Anne Frank were alive today, she "would have been a Belieber."
In other words, he is a massive narcissist. (Also in this category: Miley Cyrus). But how did he get that way?
Luckily, there is a wealth of academic information that explains the self-absorbed media sensation that is Justin Bieber. Let's look at the four qualities researchers have recently linked with a high probability of narcissism.
In a new study published in the journal Thinking Skills and Creativity, British researchers found that people who think of themselves as creative and who engage in creative activities are more likely to display narcissistic tendencies.
First, subjects were asked to rate how creative they were, and how many creative activities (like writing a poem or choreographing a dance) they had participated in over the last year. Then they were asked to answer questions from the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.
It turns out that agreeing with statements like "I am more capable than other people" was "the variable that most strongly predicted not only self-assessed creativity (no surprise there), but also engagement in creative activities," according to Tom Jacobs at Pacific Standard.
In a previous study, Cornell researchers found that narcissistic people were better at selling their creative ideas — in this case, movie concepts. Ideas were accepted more often when pitched by a narcissist, even when judged unimpressive on paper. Jacobs sums up the link between narcissism and creativity thusly:
There's no evidence at this point that narcissists are more creative than the rest of us. But there is evidence that they think they are, and that that belief drives them to try their hand at various creative pursuits. [Pacific Standard]
Another sign of narcissism: Wealth. This summer, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, published a study that showed that people who were wealthy scored higher on a series of four tests meant to measure narcissism. One them involved a mirror, which moneyed subjects were more likely to use before getting their picture taken.
Not only that, the effects scaled up, meaning that "the wealthier you were, the more entitled and narcissistic you were," according to PBS.
Obsession with social media
Research has also shown that narcissists are more active on social media. The young and self-absorbed especially prefer Twitter, which one study called a "means of amplifying one's own perceived superiority to others."
Facebook, on the other hand, was used by narcissists to curate a positive image of themselves. Science has yet to determine where Instagram selfies rank against other social media phenomena, but considering the top hashtag on Instagram is #me, there is a good chance there is a link to narcissistic behavior.
Speaking of young people, a study by San Diego State University professor Jean M. Twenge found that millennials scored 30 percent higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory than young people from the 1970s. More college students today, according to Twenge, rank themselves as "above average" and use more first-person singular pronouns in their writing.
Not everyone agrees with her research. Some critics point out that young people are intrinsically more self-absorbed than older people, no matter the generation, while others note that she only talked to young people from elite colleges, who don't represent millennials as a whole.
Of course, any of these academic studies could be overturned in the future. Like IQ tests, many question whether the Narcissistic Personality Inventory is flawed.
Still, the research over the past few years does paint a pretty convincing picture of what makes a person narcissistic. A millennial singer with a huge social media following who has enough money to crash his Ferrari into a photographer? Yeah, that sounds like this guy:
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