A groundbreaking study featured in the peer-reviewed journal Current Psychology uncovers a link between left-wing extremism, psychopathic tendencies, and narcissism.
"Given existing research, we predicted a correlation between high levels of left-wing authoritarianism and increased narcissism," the authors stated. This fresh perspective has led researchers Ann Krispenz and Alex Bertrams to introduce a novel term for this behavioral phenomenon: the "dark-ego-vehicle principle."
Elaborating on the principle to PsyPost, the authors explained, "This principle posits that individuals exhibiting dark personality traits, like extreme narcissism and psychopathy, are drawn towards certain forms of political and social activism. These become a conduit to fulfill their ego-centric needs rather than genuinely striving for social justice and equality."
These forms of activism often afford such individuals opportunities for self-promotion and displays of moral superiority, enabling them to secure social status, assert dominance, and engage in social conflicts and aggression for thrill-seeking.
The study reveals an intriguing contradiction within left-wing authoritarians, who often fail to practice the social justice they vehemently advocate. The research suggests that social justice is frequently leveraged as a facade behind which such activists act unrestrainedly.
"An individual high in Left-Wing Authoritarianism (LWA) could brand anyone with opposing views as 'old fashioned', suppress free speech to control right-wing expression in educational institutions, or even justify violence to achieve their political objectives," the authors clarified.
Furthermore, the study reveals that privileged individuals exhibiting LWA often exploit their narcissism to make activism about themselves, diverting focus from the goal of achieving social equality for marginalized groups.
"Minority groups should be aware of the narcissistic 'enemies' within their activist movements. These individuals may hijack the cause, thereby undermining the success of the activism in various ways," the authors caution. "As grandiose narcissists typically seek fame, distinction, elevated social status, and high social importance, they can be expected to aim for influential positions offering social visibility, financial resources, and other benefits."
In closing, the authors stressed that authoritarianism spans both ends of the political spectrum, noting a substantial body of literature and research on right-wing authoritarianism. However, they pointed out that "research on authoritarianism within individuals supportive of left-wing political ideologies remains sparse."