Narcissism and the Struggle for Status:
Narcissism, Self-Esteem, and Peer Popularity Across the Transition to Secondary School
During the transition to secondary school, children face a myriad of new demands. One key demand is the integration into a new peer group, which can be a challenging task. Some children endure this struggle successfully, and are able to uphold or improve their popularity among peers when compared to primary school. Others navigate the transition less prosperously and lose popularity. What explains these differences?
We examined how children’s narcissistic traits and self-esteem —alone and in interaction—, predict popularity across the transition to secondary school. We were interested in how these core aspects of the developing self contribute to concurrent popularity, changes in popularity across this transition, and subsequent maintenance of popularity. Parallel relationships for likability as an outcome variable are explored as well.
Five waves of data were collected: one before the transition to secondary school and four waves throughout the first year after the transition to secondary school. Participating children (N = 322, 47% boys, mean age = 12.2 years) reported on their own levels of narcissism and self-esteem prior to the transition to secondary school. Popularity and likeability were assessed at each wave using a peer rating procedure: participants indicated the popularity of each of their classmates and how much they liked each of their classmates. We used structural equation modeling in Mplus 7.0 to examine our questions. Several models were estimated, including growth models and panel models, and models with and without covariates and lag-1 paths.