The genetic underpinnings of narcissistic traits are a new area of research, but it has a very long history.
According to a 2007 article in the journal Nature, “a recent analysis of samples from 2,500 individuals in the United States and Great Britain showed that the frequency of narcissistic personality traits was higher in those with greater genetic variation in their BCL-2 gene (BCL2 rs13285594).”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), genetic variation is a key factor in the development of personality traits, such as narcissism and antisocial behavior.
“The research suggests that genes related to narcissism can be detected in the DNA of people who are more narcissistic, and that these traits can be identified by their genes,” the NIH article continues.
A 2013 paper in the same journal found that individuals who have greater genetic variability in the BCL2 gene have greater risk of developing antisocial behaviors, including violence and substance abuse, as well as higher rates of narcissistic and antisocialsocial traits.
In the current study, researchers examined DNA from 2.6 million individuals across the United Kingdom to see whether genetic variation related to the Bcl2 gene is associated with personality traits.
Researchers compared the DNA from people who were narcissists and nonnarcissists to that of individuals with and without a BCL1 gene variant.
They also compared the genetic variation between individuals who had the BSK2 variant to that between individuals with the BTL3 gene variant, a marker of impulsivity and impulsivity-related traits.
“We found that the BGL2 variants were significantly associated with increased odds of narcissistic self-reported traits,” the researchers wrote.
“In other words, these variants predicted narcissism.
In contrast, BCL3 variants predicted less narcissism.”
The researchers found that those with a BGL1 gene variation were significantly more likely to have the BML1 gene mutation.
However, those with the CCL1 variant were significantly less likely to be narcissistic, the researchers said.
This finding indicates that the genes associated with narcissism may be expressed differently among people of different racial and ethnic groups, but are also associated with different personality traits in individuals of the same or similar race and ethnic group.
The study authors concluded, “Our findings highlight the need to develop genetic approaches to identify individuals at risk for narcissism, and to understand the genetic and environmental pathways that are associated with narcissistic traits.”