City Research Online

Clinician perception of pathological narcissism in females: a vignette-based study

Green, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-4683-0793, MacLean, R. & Charles, K. (2023). Clinician perception of pathological narcissism in females: a vignette-based study. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, article number 1090746. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1090746


The DSM-5 reports that up to 75% of those diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are males, which denotes that narcissism is a clinical phenomenon that operates differently in men and women. Vulnerable narcissism, which tends to be more prevalent in females and is currently under-appreciated in the DSM-5, may be diagnosed as other “vulnerable” disorders (e.g., Borderline Personality Disorder; BPD). The current study investigated gender differences in clinicians’ perceptions of narcissistic pathology. Adopting an online vignette based study, clinicians (N = 108; 79 females) read clinical case vignettes of hypothetical patients and provided diagnostic ratings of existing personality disorders. Clinicians’ diagnostic ratings of NPD were concurrent with the vignette containing grandiose narcissism symptoms, irrespective of patient gender. However, when presented with a vulnerable narcissism vignette, clinicians were significantly more likely to attribute a BPD diagnosis in female patients, compared to male patients. Clinicians with a psychodynamic approach and more experience in practice were also more likely to label vulnerable narcissism symptoms as NPD, compared to those with a CBT approach and less experience in practice. The clinical implications of these results support the shift toward assessing personality dysfunction based on dimensional trait domains.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 Green, MacLean and Charles. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Publisher Keywords: female narcissism, pathological narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, gender differences, gender bias, diagnosis, treatment
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Green et al 2023.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

Download (527kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login