Summary: A new study by Victoria Blinkhorn, Minna Lyons, and Louise Almond, at the University of Liverpool, suggests that narcissistic women are just as likely as narcissistic men to engage in serious and aggressive sexually coercive behaviour. Sexual coercion in men related to more socially desirable aspects of narcissism (adaptive narcissism), whereas in women, sexual coercion was associated with socially toxic components of narcissism (maladaptive narcissism). The research is published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 87, pages 219-223.
Previous research has suggested that personality plays an important role in sexually coercive tactics. Narcissism may be responsible for increased sexual coercion due to being characterised by self-serving cognitive distortions and the excessive need for admiration. Studies have previously found a relationship between narcissism and persistent sexual persuasion, coercion and aggression, rape conducive beliefs, and domestic violence. However, most of these studies only focussed on men.
Although it is possible that the lack of research on narcissism and sexual coercion in women is due to consistent findings of higher levels of narcissism and inter-personal violence in men, ignoring the
consequences of this destructive personality trait in women is a serious oversight. There is a notable lack of research investigating female sexual coercion against males despite over 200 studies finding gender symmetry. This study investigated narcissism and sexually coercive tactics in both men and
women in a sub-clinical non-offending population.
Three hundred and twenty-nine people, who were predominantly British and American, took part. An online survey was advertised at a University in North-West England and was made available to both undergraduate students and to the wider community via the authors’ social networks, and psychology research participation websites. The online survey consisted of demographic questions, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, which measures adaptive and maladaptive narcissism traits, and the Postrefusal Sexual Persistence scale, which asked participants had they used a wide range of sexually coercive tactics after being refused from their sexual advance.
The results showed that even though men were generally more narcissistic than women, and tended to use more sexually coercive tactics after being rejected, when narcissism was investigated in relation to sexual coercion, maladaptive narcissism was a stronger predictor in women. This suggests that women who exhibit maladaptive narcissism are just as likely to engage in sexually coercive behaviour as men!
The results indicate that sexual coercion in males relates to more socially desirable aspects of narcissism, which can be perceived as confidence, whereas in females, these strategies are associated
with socially toxic components of narcissism. These new findings contribute to the little literature on narcissism and sexual coercion in women, suggesting that narcissism may capture the idea of the ultimate femme fatale, dangerous when being refused what she feels entitled to.