Actually, many Americans see themselves that way, too.
Americans have a reputation for not exactly caring what the rest of the world thinks about them—a trait many public figures have lately been doing their best to enhance with each hysterical rant against refugees and immigrants. Turns out that message of self-absorption has long been received.
In a series of studies published this month, an international group of behavioral researchers finds a universal perception of Americans as exceptionally—even “problematically”—narcissistic. People living both inside and outside the U.S. rate the typical American much more highly on that measure than they rate themselves, their friends, or (for foreigners) the average citizen of their own country. In many cases those ratings were strong enough to meet clinical medical standards for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Here’s the upshot, via the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:
Americans and non-Americans alike perceive other Americans as highly narcissistic. This finding does not simply reflect perceptions of higher levels of agentic traits but instead reflects the belief that the typical American is grandiose, callous, and self-centered. Although an inflated view of narcissism of a typical member of one’s culture is shared across a diverse set of regions and cultures, the effects are generally smaller in other regions of the world.
The study group, with the psychologist Joshua Miller of the University of Georgia as lead author, conducted a half-dozen surveys at home and abroad to determine the extent of perceived American narcissism.