Why collective narcissists are so politically volatile

Research from my PrejudiceLab at Goldsmiths, University of London shows that people who score high on the collective narcissism scale are particularly sensitive to even the smallest offences to their group’s image.

The first issues of the German version of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo are for sale at a newsstand in Berlin. Photo credit: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

In 2007, a British school teacher in Sudan received a jail sentence under Sharia law because she allowed her pupils to name a classroom teddy-bear ‘Muhammad’. The day after the sentence was announced, more than 10,000 people took to the streets of Khartoum demanding the teacher’s execution for blasphemy. While alternative explanations existed – the name Muhammad was chosen by children’s voting, it is a popular male name in Sudan – the teacher faced such disproportionate hostility because some people interpreted her actions as an insult to their whole group.

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