Collective Narcissism and Perceptions of the (Il)legitimacy of the 2020 US Election

Federico, Christopher M.; Farhart, Christina; Vitriol, Joseph and Golec de Zavala, Agnieszka. 2022. Collective Narcissism and Perceptions of the (Il)legitimacy of the 2020 US Election. The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, 20(1), pp. 37-62. ISSN 1540-8884 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Recent work suggests that collective narcissism—an exaggerated, unrealistic belief in an in-group’s greatness that demands constant external validation—is a reliable predictor of authoritarian-populist hostility toward democratic norms, processes, and outcomes. In the present study, we use a recent survey of American adults to examine the relationship between collective narcissism and perceptions that the 2020 election in the US was illegitimate. We find evidence that those high in national collective narcissism are more likely to endorse a number of beliefs about the illegitimacy of the 2020 US election, including greater perception of fraud, procedural unfairness, and inaccurate vote counting. Importantly, we find that this relationship is strongest among those whose identities were most threatened by a loss of power due to the 2020 presidential outcome, i.e., Republicans and conservative identifiers.

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Research Funding: The authors would like to thank the Research Foundation for The State University of New York, the Stony Brook Foundation, Inc., and the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University for providing the resources needed to collect the data used in this research.


election fairness; legitimacy; collective narcissism; conspiracy theories

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26 April 2022Accepted
27 May 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

14 Sep 2022 09:49

Last Modified:

27 May 2023 01:26

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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