Narcissistic traits and self-esteem in children: Results from a community and a clinical sample of patients with oppositional defiant disorder

Pietro Muratori, Annarita Milone, Paola Brovedani, Valentina Levantini, Gabriele Melli, Simone Pisano, Elena Valente, Sander Thomaes, Gabriele Masi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Several studies have investigated relationships between narcissism, self-esteem and behavioral problems in children. Most of these studies have been conducted in community samples, rather than in clinical referred samples. This field of research is clinically important, because data on community samples suggest that narcissism is a significant risk factor for children's behavioral problems. Methods: The study aimed to test the psychometric properties of the Child Narcissism Scale (CNS) in a community sample of Italian children and to explore the clinical utility of CNS in a sample of referred children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Results: In the community sample, the Italian version of the CNS was shown to be a normally distributed, single-factor measure of childhood narcissism with very good internal consistency. Furthermore, high levels of narcissism were associated with less self-esteem in family relationships, more parent-reported conduct problems, and less teacher-reported pro-social behaviors. In the ODD sample, high levels of narcissism were associated with more conduct problems and emotional symptoms. Low levels of self-esteem were associated with more conduct problems. Limitations: The cross sectional design does not allow for estimates of CNS test-retest reliability and sensitivity to change, nor does it allow for interpretations that suggest temporal precedence or causality. Conclusions: We found support for the cross-cultural utility of the CNS as a short and comprehensive self-report measure of narcissistic traits, which can be used in community and clinical samples of children, and suggested how narcissism may be involved in children's behavioral problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Children
  • Conduct problems
  • Narcissism
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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