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Lack of empathy root of hubristic behaviour: first Trust-supported research conclusions. (2016)

“Lack of empathy” is at the root of narcissistic leaders’ hubristic behaviour, according to the first report from a range of research projects supported by the Daedalus Trust.

“We wondered whether narcissists would be unwilling to apologize to their victims, thus exhibiting hubristic behaviour,” the researchers comment. “Narcissism is characterized by low levels of empathy. Low empathy is related to low levels of guilt, which in turn is associated with a reluctance to apologize after an interpersonal transgression. We conducted three studies: the results of the studies converged.”

The research, which has been submitted for peer review and publication, was conducted by Joost M. Leunissen, Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut, senior academics at the University of Southampton in the UK.

They were among a number of teams from around the world to respond to the Trust’s 2014 invitation to compete for grants for “innovative and interdisciplinary research into hubristic behaviour across various areas of human activity including business, neurosciences, psychology and politics”.

Other projects the Daedalus Trust chose to support are currently looking at confidence, over-confidence and hubris in the banking sector; developing a process model of corporate hubris; and the neural basis and attenuating factors invoved in power and hubris.

For the a summary of the research manuscript on this topic that has now been submitted for publication, see Narcissism and apologizing.

For more information on the other projects supported by the Daedalus Trust see our section on Research.

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  1. Rick Botelho says:

    Hubris exists across a continuum between virtuous altruism and evil narcissism. The assertion that lack of empathy is the only root of hubris seems naive and reductionist to one root cause. What about megalomania? And many other traits contribute to a diverse manifestations of hubris. For example, high-functioning megalomaniacs (Make America Great Again) have high empathic skills. Donald Trump is a empathic savant in manipulating the republican rogue rage of the silent majority. See Make Our Democracy Great Again