Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Personality: Self concept · Personality testing · Theories · Mind-body problem

Emotional superiority is the feeling that one is better than others. As a personality trait it goes beyond self esteem and is associated with grandiosity and narcissism.

Superiority complex

In psychoanalytic theory Superiority complex refers to a subconscious neurotic mechanism of compensation developed by the individual as a result of feelings of inferiority.[1] The feelings of inferiority in this specific complex are often brought on by real or perceived social rejection, possibly as a result of the individual's inattentiveness to hygiene, appearance, or lower intelligence as compared to others. The term was coined by Alfred Adler (February 7, 1870 – May 28, 1937), as part of his School of Individual psychology.

Some people brought up in a background where one has to fulfill high expectations and have been able to do so may feel superior towards others. To some, it is part of their nature.[citation needed]

Those exhibiting the superiority complex commonly project their feelings of inferiority onto others they perceive as beneath them, possibly for the same reasons they themselves may have been ostracized, i.e. viewing most, possibly all others as "ugly" or "stupid", and beneath oneself. Accusations of arrogance and cockiness are often made by others when referring to the individual exhibiting the superiority complex.[citation needed]

Behaviors related to this mechanism may include an exaggeratedly positive opinion of one’s worth and abilities, unrealistically high expectations in goals and achievements for oneself and others, the persistent attempt to correct others regardless of whether they are factually correct or not, vanity, extravagant style in dressing (with intent of drawing attention), excessive need for competition, pride, sentimentalism and affected exaltation, snobbishness, a tendency to discredit other’s opinions, forcefulness aimed at dominating those considered as weaker or less important, credulity, and others.[2]

Social aloofness, daydreaming and isolation could also be associated to the Superiority Complex, as a way to evade the fear of failure related to the feelings of inadequacy to face the real world.

Superiority and inferiority complex are often found together as the different expressions of the same pathology and the two complexes can exist within the same individual.[citation needed] Superiority can also be caused by PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).[citation needed]

See also


  1. - superiority complex
  2. Social Interest: Adler's Key to the Meaning of Life by Alfred Adler (Chapter on Superiority Complex)

Further reading

*Arroyo, J. M. G. (2003). New contributions on the study of the neurosis by means of the order relations: Anales de Psiquiatria Vol 19(10) Nov-Dec 2003, 422-430.
*Bieber, I. (1977). Pathogenicity of parental preference: Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis & Dynamic Psychiatry Vol 5(3) Jul 1977, 291-298.
*Bogart, L. M., Benotsch, E. G., & Pavlovic, J. D. (2004). Feeling Superior but Threatened: The Relation of Narcissism to Social Comparison: Basic and Applied Social Psychology Vol 26(1) Mar 2004, 35-44.
*Bond, M. H., Kwan, V. S. Y., & Li, C. (2000). Decomposing a sense of superiority: The differential social impact of self-regard and regard for others: Journal of Research in Personality Vol 34(4) Dec 2000, 537-553.
*Brenninkmeijer, V., Vanyperen, N. W., & Buunk, B. P. (2001). I am not a better teacher, but others are doing worse: Burnout and perceptions of superiority among teachers: Social Psychology of Education Vol 4(3-4) 2001, 259-274.
*Brenninkmeyer, V., Yperen, N. W. V., & Buunk, B. P. (2001). Burnout and depression are not identical twins: Is decline of superiority a distinguishing feature? : Personality and Individual Differences Vol 30(5) Apr 2001, 873-880.
*Brotemarkle, R. A. (1930). Review of The lure of superiority: Psychological Bulletin Vol 27(1) Jan 1930, 72-73.
*Brown, J. D., & Gallagher, F. M. (1992). Coming to terms with failure: Private self-enhancement and public self-effacement: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Vol 28(1) Jan 1992, 3-22.
*Diamonti, M. C. (1993). Learning to rule: Elite education, adolescence, and the development of entitlement: Dissertation Abstracts International.
*Dodge, R., & Kahn, E. (1931). The craving for superiority. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Dodge, R., & Kahn, E. (1931). The craving for the feeling of superiority. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Dodge, R., & Kahn, E. (1931). The insatiability of the craving for superiority. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Dodge, R., & Kahn, E. (1931). Natural history of values. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Dodge, R., & Kahn, E. (1931). The relativity of superiority and inferiority. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Dodge, R., & Kahn, E. (1931). Time. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Dodge, R., & Kahn, E. (1931). The uniqueness of each personality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Dodge, R., & Kahn, E. (1931). Variability and change. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
*Duncan, W. J. (1985). The superiority theory of humor at work: Joking relationships as indicators of formal and informal status patterns in small, task-oriented groups: Small Group Behavior Vol 16(4) Nov 1985, 556-564.
*Efoghe, G. B. (1999). Inferiority, superiority complexes and marital satisfaction among married female nurses in Benin city: IFE Psychologia: An International Journal Vol 7(1) 1999, 173-186.
*Farnham, A. A. (1997). Understanding developmental pathways to risk and vulnerability in childhood and adolescence. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering.
*Gagne, F. (2004). The role of mindset in the accuracy and bias of relationship evaluations. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering.
*Ginsburg, F. (1995). Developmental correlates of incest: An analysis of research relevant to the alleged impact of intrafamilial abuse on the short and long term adjusment of children. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering.
*Granfield, R., & Koenig, T. (1992). Learning collective eminence: Harvard Law School and the social production of elite lawyers: Sociological Quarterly Vol 33(4) 1992, 503-520.
*Haley, H. (2006). Self-enhancement and ingroup bias: How and why they intertwine. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering.
*Headey, B., & Wearing, A. (1988). The sense of relative superiority--central to well-being: Social Indicators Research Vol 20(5) Oct 1988, 497-516.
*Hoorens, V., & Buunk, B. P. (1992). Self-serving biases in social comparison: Illusory superiority and unrealistic optimism: Psychologica Belgica Vol 32(2) 1992, 169-194.
*Hoorens, V., & Harris, P. (1998). Distortions in reports of health behaviors: The time span effect and illusory superiority: Psychology & Health Vol 13(3) May 1998, 451-466.
*Hornsey, M. J. (2003). Linking Superiority Bias in the Interpersonal and Intergroup Domains: Journal of Social Psychology Vol 143(4) Aug 2003, 479-491.
*Hyde, J. S. (1994). How women measure up: PsycCRITIQUES Vol 39 (6), Jun, 1994.
*La Fave, L., Haddad, J., & Maesen, W. A. (1976). Superiority, enhanced self-esteem, and perceived incongruity humour theory. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
*Lehman, H. C. (1932). Review of The Craving For Superiority: Journal of Applied Psychology Vol 16(5) Oct 1932, 591-592.
*Levin, R. (1986). Infantile omnipotence and grandiosity: Psychoanalytic Review Vol 73(1) Spr 1986, 57-76.
*Mangis, M. W. (1990). The dynamics of sexism: Personality, Christian beliefs, and attitudes toward women: Dissertation Abstracts International.
*Messe, L. A., Kerr, N. L., & Sattler, D. N. (1991). "But some animals are more equal than others": The supervisor as a privileged status in group contexts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
*Mozdzierz, G. J., & Friedman, K. (1978). The superiority-inferiority spouses syndrome: Diagnostic and therapeutic considerations: Journal of Individual Psychology Vol 34(2) Nov 1978, 232-243.
*Muller, A. S. (1995). Adult perceived onset of parental mental disorder, Eriksonian individation and current adjustment. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering.
*Nicolini, E. A., & Schust, J. P. (1990). Arrogance as a character trait: Revista de Psicoanalisis Vol 47(3) May-Jun 1990, 366-477.
*Nyberg, B. J. (2004). The impact of person-job role and person-superior fit on employee satisfaction. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences.
*Parker, R. N., & Tuthill, L. (2006). Youth Violence Prevention Among White Youth. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
*Penningroth, S. L. (2005). Free recall of everyday retrospective and prospective memories: The intention-superiority effect is moderated by action versus state orientation and by gender: Memory Vol 13(7) Oct 2005, 711-724.
*Rios, P. (1999). Interpersonal aspects of narcissism: The impact of grandiosity on interpersonal relationships and group therapy process. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering.
*Rusbult, C. E., Lange, P. A. M. V., Wildschut, T., Yovetich, N. A., & Verette, J. (2000). Perceived superiority in close relationships: Why it exists and persists: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol 79(4) Oct 2000, 521-545.
*Seashore, H. G. (1947). The superiority of college students on the Minnesota Rate of Manipulation Test: Journal of Applied Psychology Vol 31(3) Jun 1947, 249-253.
*Svrakic, D. M. (1987). Clinical approach to the grandiose self: The American Journal of Psychoanalysis Vol 47(2) Sum 1987, 167-181.
*Thompson, D. D. (1972). Attributions of ability from patterns of performance under competitive and cooperative conditions: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol 23(3) Sep 1972, 302-308.
*Tragesser, S. L., & Lippman, L. G. (2005). Teasing: For Superiority or Solidarity? : Journal of General Psychology Vol 132(3) Jul 2005, 255-266.
*Vaughan, W. F. (1933). Review of The Craving for Superiority: Psychological Bulletin Vol 30(5) May 1933, 368-369.
*Xie, B., Liu, C., Chou, C.-P., Xia, J., Spruijt-Metz, D., Gong, J., et al. (2003). Weight perception and psychological factors in Chinese adolescents: Journal of Adolescent Health Vol 33(3) Sep 2003, 202-210.
*Yip, K.-s. (2004). Controversies in psychiatric services in Hong Kong: Social workers' superiority and inferiority complexes: International Social Work Vol 47(2) Apr 2004, 240-258.