Should I have done something differently? Or could nobody have seen it coming? In episode 84 Satoris “Tori” Howes from Oregon State University-Cascades and Edgar “Ed” Kausel from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile join us to discuss their research into the malleability of narcissists’ memory, as well as whether they’re able to reflect on their mistakes to learn from them. Their article “When and why narcissists exhibit greater hindsight bias and less perceived learning,” which they co-authored with Alex Jackson and Jochen Reb, was published on June 4, 2020 in the Journal of Management.

Why Narcissists Are "Never Wrong" - Tori Howes and Ed Kausel
Why Narcissists Are "Never Wrong" - Tori Howes and Ed Kausel
Why Narcissists Are "Never Wrong" - Tori Howes and Ed Kausel Why Narcissists Are "Never Wrong" - Tori Howes and Ed Kausel
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Hosts / Producers

Doug Leigh & Ryan Watkins

How to Cite

Leigh, D., Watkins, R., Howes, T., & Kausel, E.. (2020). Parsing Science – Why Narcissists Are “Never Wrong”. figshare.


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Edgar Kausel: If it was some kind of a random thing that nobody could have predicted, then of course there’s nothing to learn from it.

Tori Howes: There’s almost a question of “Why would you question yourself if you are right?”

Ryan Watkins: This is Parsing Science, the unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Ryan Watkins.

Doug Leigh: And I’m Doug Leigh. Today, in Episode 84 Parsing Science, we’ll talk with Tori Howes from Oregon State University, and Edgar Kausal from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, about their research, which finds that narcissists rarely, if ever, learned from their mistakes … because true narcissists refuse to believe they’re capable of making one.

Before we begin, we’d like to dedicate this episode to Roger Kaufman, who passed away this week. Roger was Ryan and my major professor while we were completing our doctorates at Florida State University, though that far understates the many important roles that he played in our lives. He was our mentor, our teacher, and most of all our friend. Maybe the most important thing I learned from Roger was to always ask, “What’s the one thing I should have asked, but didn’t?” We’ll miss him dearly. Now, here’s Tori Howes in Edgar Kausal.

Howes: Hello, I’m Tori. I was a first-generation college student. So, both of my parents were active-duty military. And I wound up getting my undergrad from the same place that was right in my hometown. So, I went to University of Central Missouri. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but my parents knew that I should not go into the military, because I didn’t like to follow orders. So they encouraged me to go on for more education, because I was good at that. So I went on, and I got my Master’s at Missouri State University in psychology. And I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But my parents were still sure that I should not go in the military, because I kept considering that as an option. So they encouraged me to just keep going with what I’m good at, which was the “book smarts,” as they said. So I went on and got my doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from Texas A&M. And at that point, I finally figured out … I agreed, I really was decent at this: I enjoyed teaching, I loved the research. So, I have been in academia – after a small stint at consulting in the Chicago area – and then I was at Kansas State University for quite a while, until I came to Oregon State University.

Kausel: Hi, I’m Ed Kausel. I’m from Chile, South America. So the Chilean system is a little bit different education system. And it’s a bit different from the US. And so I started studying computer science at the beginning, for a couple of years. And then I was sick of it. And I started studying psychology, initially because I thought that I was interested in cognitive psychology: so, you know, artificial intelligence, and how you could use my computer science background and study, you know, how people think, and so on. But then I became a bit more practical, and then I thought about doing something related to human resources. After getting my degree, I started working in the HR department in a retail company. And then, after a couple of years, I was sick of it. And then I wanted to go back to academia somehow. And then I became interested in industrial organizational psychology. And so I became interested in, on the one hand, in studying individual differences, like narcissism. But also judgment and decision making: so how people make decisions, what are the biases, and so on. So it’s very related to behavioral economics.

Watkins: A 1975 article titled, “I knew it would happen,” documented the first work to directly test the phenomenon that we now call “hindsight bias.” In their study, the researchers asked people to judge the likelihood of various possible outcomes of trips [that] then-president Nixon was about to take to Beijing and Moscow. After Nixon’s visits were completed, the participants were brought back and asked to recall their own predictions, as well as whether or not they thought that each event had in fact occurred. Most people overestimated the predictions they initially assigned for events that they believed took place, and underestimated these predictions for those which they thought hadn’t. We began our conversation with Ed and Tori by asking them to describe how they describe what hindsight bias is.

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