Date of Award

Summer 8-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Tammy Greer

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Sheree Watson

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Maureen Duffy

Abstract

Individuals who have narcissistic traits have a tendency to behave more aggressively in both indirect and direct ways, especially when confronted with negative feedback that threatens their self-esteem. Little is known about how trait-level individual differences affect aggression for people who have narcissistic tendencies. Among adults, where direct confrontation is generally discouraged, aggression may be difficult to detect. Rational-appearing aggression is used in the workplace, generally by supervisors toward employees. In some environments, however, including academic environments, 360o feedback is prevalent, with faculty grading student performance and students evaluating faculty in the form of course evaluations. Faculty are held accountable for student grades with grade appeal processes in place at most if not all universities. Course evaluations, conversely, are completed anonymously so that there is no recourse for faculty and no accountability for students, resulting in minimal cost to students who target instructors in this way. The potential for aggression in the course evaluation process makes this context ideal for the study of rational-appearing aggression in a population with generally higher rates of narcissism. The proposed study is designed to determine whether the relation between levels of narcissism (high, moderate, low) and ratings of a lecture changes depending on feedback about a test score and whether those changes are affected by participants’ actual and perceived test scores.

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