The scientific study of narcism (also known as "narcissism") goes way back to the 19th century, and it is a well studied concept in psychiatry. Here is the DSM (3rd edition) description of narcism (as quoted from Raskin and Terry, 1988):

the narcissistic personality is defined by the following clinical criteria: a grandiose sense of selfimportance or uniqueness; a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; exhibitionism; an inability to tolerate criticism, the indifference of others, or defeat; entitlement or the expectation of special favors without assuming reciprocal responsibilities; interpersonal exploitativeness, relationships that alternate between extremes of overidealization and devaluation; and a lack of empathy.

The lifetime prevalence of the Narcicistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is quite high: 6.2%! It is higher in men (7.7%) than in women (4.8%, as reported by Stinson et al., 1988). That means that nearly one in 13 men (and one in 21 women) are affected by the NPD at least once in their life.
People high in narcissism are typically lower in empathy. You can measure empathy with the PsyToolkit implementation of the Empathy Quotient scale.

Since before the second world war, a number of psychological scales of narcism have been developed (Raskin and Terry, 1988, give an overview).

According to the Web of Science database, the Raskin and Terry (1988) is the most cited research article about narcism. It uses Raskin and Hall’s 1979 first publication of the widely used Narcissistic Personality Inventory.

The original Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) has 40 items. There is a brief version called the 16 item NPI, which uses items of the 40-item questionnaire. The demo shows the 16-item version. The NPI-16 does not capture all aspects of the NPI-40, but can be justified when limited testing time is available. Unlike the NPI-40, the NPI-16 is unidimensional, that is there are no subscales. The underlying factor structure of narcissism is still a matter of debate, so it would be hard to argue that there is one true measure.

The NPI is not a psychiatric assessment of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The Morph and Rhodewalt 2001 paper is a really good introduction to the topic.

In the Ames et al (2006) study, there were 5 different studies with slightly different groups. Here is a short description of the group and the means, so that you can compare yourself. Narcissists have a score over .5.

The 16 pairs are scored 0 or 1, and the score on the scale is the mean of all the answers.

The scores run from 0 to 1, from low to high on narcism.

Study Sample Mean age All Men Women


Psychology students






MBA students












Psychology students






MBA students





Run the demo

You can use the published scale, but you need to acknowledge and cite the original research (Ames, Rose, and Anderson, 2006) and Raskin and Terry (1988).


This questionnaire does not use the typical Likert scales, but instead uses the "multiradio" element to show two choices for each item. The score is the mean score (one item of each pair is scored 0 and one 1).

In the line t: multiradio 2, the number 2 indicates that we use two lines for each item. In principle, you can also use triplets (you would use the number 3) or more. That said, typically, this type of questionniare item typically uses pairs of items, like here.

Note that the in the list of items in the survey code, half the pairs are indented one space. That is done purely and only for human readability (otherwise, it is more difficult to know which lines follow pairs). The computer ignores this, and this is thus not a PsyToolkit requirement.

The survey color scheme is different from the default (here it is green). In PsyToolkit surveys, you can choose out of multiple color schemes for your survey.

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
l: npi
q: For each pair of statements, choose the one you identify with most.<br>
If you do not identify with either of them, choose the one that is least<br>
objectionable or remote.<br>
t: multiradio 2
o: random
o: scores 0 1
- When people compliment me I sometimes get embarrassed
- I know that I am good because everybody keeps telling me so
 - I prefer to blend in with the crowd
 - I like to be the center of attention
- I am no better or worse than most people
- I think I am a special person
 - I don’t mind following orders
 - I like having authority over people
- I don’t like it when I find myself manipulating people
- I find it easy to manipulate people
 - I usually get the respect that I deserve
 - I insist upon getting the respect that is due me
- I try not to be a show off
- I am apt to show off if I get the chance
 - Sometimes I am not sure of what I am doing
 - I always know what I am doing
- Sometimes I tell good stories
- Everybody likes to hear my stories
 - I like to do things for other people
 - I expect a great deal from other people
- It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention
- I really like to be the center of attention
 - Being an authority doesn’t mean that much to me
 - People always seem to recognize my authority
- I hope I am going to be successful
- I am going to be a great person
 - People sometimes believe what I tell them
 - I can make anybody believe anything I want them to
- There is a lot that I can learn from other people
- I am more capable than other people
 - I am much like everybody else
 - I am an extraordinary person

l: npi_score
t: set
- mean $npi

l: feedback
t: info
q: Your score (on a range from low to high, from 0 to 1) is {$npi_score}<br>
Remember your score. After this question, there is a link back to the text about<br>
the scale, and you can compare your score to that of others.<br>
Narcissists seem to have scores over 0.5.<br>


  • Ames, D.R., Rose, P., Anderson, C.P. (2006).The NPI-16 as a short measure of narcissism. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 440-450.

  • Morf, C. C., & Rhodewalt, F. (2001). Unraveling the paradoxes of narcissism: A dynamic self-regulatory processing model. Psychological Inquiry, 12, 177–196.

  • Raskin, R.N. and Hall, C.S. (1979). A narcissistic personality inventory. Psychological Reports, 45, 590-590. You can run the 40-item test on this external website. You can download the 40 items as text document here.

  • Raskin, R. and Terry, H. (1988). A Principal-Components Analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory and Further Evidence of Its Construct Validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 890-902.

  • Stinson, F. S., Dawson, D. A., Goldstein, R. B., Chou, S. P., Huang, B., Smith, S. M., …​ Grant, B. F. (2008). Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Results from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 69, 1033-1045. Open access, click here to read.