Interpersonal analysis of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism

Kelly A. Dickinson, Aaron L. Pincus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

510 Scopus citations


This article examines the validity of grandiose and vulnerable subtypes of narcissistic character styles through an analysis of personality disorder criteria, interpersonal problems, and adult attachment styles in a nonclinical population. The grandiose personalities in this sample were rated high in the dramatic traits associated with narcissistic, antisocial, and histrionic personality disorders based on a diagnostic interview, and they reported domineering and vindictive interpersonal problems. However, despite the observation of narcissistic personality pathology, they denied interpersonal distress related to their interpersonal problems and the majority reported adult attachment styles reflective of positive self-representations (Secure, Dismissive). Vulnerable narcissistic individuals were represented by high ratings on avoidant personality disorder based on a diagnostic interview. They reported high interpersonal distress and greater domineering, vindictive, cold, and socially avoidant interpersonal problems. The majority reported adult attachment styles reflective of negative self-representations (Fearful, Preoccupied). The validity of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism based upon the results of this study was discussed in terms of clinical theory and with reference to the implications of two subtypes of narcissism for diagnosis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-207
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of personality disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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