It seems that certain personalities are better equipped for success—CEOs, celebrities, and individuals holding popular positions within the In crowd appear to possess similar attributes. They're confident, they have charisma, and they command the attention of those around them. On the same token, these reigning individuals also can be colder in their social interactions with others, and it's been shown that some of our most admired CEOs have a reputation for narcissistic traits. So if leadership advice celebrates emotional intelligence, which of the two is actually the winning personality type to get ahead in life?
A recent study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and highlighted in Los Angeles Times investigates the difference in social interactions and success between narcissists and those deemed emotionally intelligent—having the ability to express empathy, control emotions to avoid conflict, and invest in personal relationships. In Poland, 273 college freshmen were assigned to study groups of 15 students each. At the beginning of the study, each student took three tests that measured their narcissism, emotional intelligence, and self-esteem. Then, in their first week of the study and again three months later, 170 of the students named the people they liked most in the group.
The findings shed light on an interesting difference between the personality types. The two groups are popular for different reasons, and emotionally intelligent people are better at making friends in the long run. Narcissists make better first impressions, initially attracting admirers due to their high level of confidence, but with time, their self-assured, showy behavior is unlikely to create or cultivate new friendships. On the other hand, emotionally intelligent people are able to form more relationships over time, gradually growing their admirers and beating out narcissists in a popularity contest. Individuals ranking high in narcissism didn't gain as many friends by the end of the study as those with stronger social skills.
Another important thing to remember is these personality traits are not mutually exclusive. More often than not, individuals are a mix of both, so a certain balance of narcissism and emotional intelligence may actually be the key to social and professional success.
What do you think of these findings? Do you agree?