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Reactivity and distortions in the self: Narcissism, types of aggression, and the functioning of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis during early adolescence

  • William M. Bukowski (a1), Alex Schwartzman (a1), Jonathan Santo (a1), Catherine Bagwell (a2) and Ryan Adams (a3)...

A multisample, multistudy project aimed at understanding how individual differences in narcissism during early adolescence are related to distortions in the aggression, and the reactivity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis to negative and positive experiences. The findings indicate that individual differences in narcissism are a remarkably stable aspect of personality during early adolescence. It is predictably related to an inflated view of the self that is not warranted by objective indices of social functioning. Further evidence shows that it promotes the continuity of aggressive behavior and is more strongly related to reactive aggression than to proactive aggression and more strongly related to relational aggression than to physical aggression. Finally, there is evidence that distortions in the self may derive from the inadequate functioning of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, one of the body's main response system for dealing with stress. These findings are discussed in terms of the processes by which early adolescents react to threats and arousal in their daily functioning.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: William M. Bukowski, Department of Psychology and Center for Research in Human Development, Concordia University, 7141 East Sherbrooke Street, Montréal, Québec H4B 1R6, Canada; E-mail:
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Development and Psychopathology
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