Spotting a narcissist can be difficult. After all, they are usually very charming and well-liked by many people around them. By the time you realize that you are dealing with a narcissist, you are often knee-deep in emotional abuse and manipulation. The earlier you figure out who they are and get out of there, the better. So how do you spot a narcissist early-on? According to this study, this can actually be done by looking at their eyebrows.
Study Shows You Can Spot A Narcissist By Their Eyebrows
Spotting a narcissist just by looking at their eyebrows may seem like a pretty crazy concept, but this study shows that this is actually possible. A 2018 study done by the University of Toronto found that people with “distinguished eyebrows” were more likely to exhibit traits of narcissistic personality disorder. (1)
In order to determine this, the research team photographed 40 undergraduate students with neutral facial expressions. The students then underwent a psychological evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory to determine how narcissistic each student was. They then presented the photos to other students and asked them to evaluate how narcissistic they thought each person was.
The results showed that the students used eyebrows as a way to guess the other students’ narcissistic tendencies. It turns out that eyebrow thickness and density were the best indicators of a narcissistic personality. Furthermore, when the researchers swapped the narcissistic persons’ eyebrows onto the faces of non-narcissistic people, the students then pegged the non-narcissists as narcissists and vice versa.
Why Does This Happen?
So why do eyebrows make spotting a narcissistic easier? The truth is the scientists weren’t really sure. One theory is that narcissists tend to hold themselves to a higher standard of physical appearance. Because of this, they are more likely to keep seemingly smaller details, such as their eyebrows, well groomed. Eyebrows are important for facial recognition and mate selection, both for men and women. Narcissists are likely more aware of this and do their best to give themselves the best edge for attracting others.
Another Way To Detect A Narcissist By Looking At Their Face
More recent studies have shown that often, when a narcissist is presented with failure or criticism, they have a particular muscular reaction in their face. This reaction is characterized by small, twitching movements in their eyes and forehead. If you present a criticism or failure to them, even something minor like a detail in a story that you were therefore or an incorrect coffee order, you will see these tiny movements. This is subtle, however, so you could miss it if you’re not watching closely. (2)
What Is A Narcissist?
A narcissist is a person who is overly preoccupied with their own self-interests at the expense of others. Narcissists are generally considered to be manipulative, deceitful, and exploitative. They tend to be very selfish, self-centered, and lack empathy for others. (3)
Narcissists are often charming and charismatic but tend to be extremely self-centered and self-absorbed. They rarely show empathy or compassion for other people’s feelings, and they may use others to get what they want.
Narcissist vs Narcissistic Traits
It’s important to note that there’s a difference between having narcissistic traits and being a full-blown narcissist. People with narcissistic traits tend to be very self-centered and self-absorbed. They often have trouble getting along with others because they don’t consider other people’s feelings and may exploit or manipulate them for their own benefit. This, however, is not necessarily an actual mental disorder.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is different from having narcissistic traits; it refers to a mental health condition in which someone has an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. Signs of NPD, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:
- Unreasonably high sense of self-importance and require constant, excessive admiration.
- Feel that they deserve privileges and special treatment.
- Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements.
- Make achievements and talents seem bigger than they are.
- Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.
- Believe they are superior to others and can only spend time with or be understood by equally special people.
- Be critical of and look down on people they feel are not important.
- Expect special favors and expect other people to do what they want without questioning them.
- Take advantage of others to get what they want.
- Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
- Be envious of others and believe others envy them.
- Behave in an arrogant way, brag a lot and come across as conceited.
- Insist on having the best of everything.
People with NDP are also extremely failure-resistant, making them quick to anger if they fail. They will usually try to avoid situations in which they might fail, but if they do, they will react poorly.
What To Do If You Suspect Someone You Know May Be A Narcissist?
People with NPD need to seek medical treatment. Unfortunately, getting a narcissist to do so is very difficult to do. Telling them you think they have a problem does not work, as they take criticism poorly. Truthfully, your best option is to do your best to distance yourself from them. If you think you are narcissistic, or at least you express narcissistic characteristics, seek help. Talk to your healthcare provider. They can set you up with a licensed therapist who can help you manage and/or overcome these traits.
Keep Reading: Posting a lot on social media can make you a jerk, study finds
- “Eyebrows cue grandiose narcissism.” Wiley. Miranda Giacomin and Nicholas O. Rule. May 5, 2018.
- “A clever way to detect narcissism.” Medical Express. Bob Yirka . May 18, 2023.
- “Narcissistic personality disorder.” Mayo Clinic