The simple, scientifically-proven way to tell if you're dating a narcissist

Sep 16, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. ET
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We'd all like to know if we're dating narcissists, right? I mean, it's one of those things where it's just better to know sooner rather than later — and now science has supplied a super-easy way to find out.

Just ask. Really!

Researchers from Ohio State University conducted a series of 11 experiments involving roughly 2,200 people across all age groups, and found that they could accurately identify narcissists by asking them this simple question:

"To what extent do you agree with this statement: 'I am a narcissist.' (Note: The word "narcissist" means egotistical, self-focused and vain.)"

Participants answered on a one to seven scale, with one meaning "not very true of me" and seven meaning "very true of me." The researchers discovered a person's answer to this single question reliably lined up with scores on much longer, reputable tests for narcissism like the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, which has 40 questions. You can actually take the short test here.

"People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic," study author Brad Bushman said in a press release from OSU. "People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. You can ask them directly because they don't see narcissism as a negative quality — they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly."

While the researchers don't think their Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) should replace the widely-used tests, they say it has "a time and place..." because it allows for such quick-and-easy identification of narcissists. A-ha!

When it comes to dating, you could definitely test this in the field. I mean, it makes sense to try. So next time you've got a hunch about a guy's true colors, remember: If he is self-centered and believes he is entitled, he will just tell you. (Science says so. Amazing, right?)

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