Narcissistic, obsessive, histrionic and paranoid. This is the personality of the common Argentine, according to a report released yesterday by the Observatory of Social and Business Trends at the Universidad Siglo 21.
Researchers at the university began to investigate aspects of la argentinidad (or Argentine-ness) last year, on the occasion of the nation’s bicentennial anniversary of independence. “We owe ourselves a debate about the characteristics of our society, which are of crucial importance to our country’s development,” said Leonardo Medrano, PhD in Psychology and Research Secretary at the university. The study administered an Argentine version of the Personality Belief Questionnaire, a method created by American psychologist Aaron Beck and used internationally, in which participants mark their agreement or disagreement with various beliefs and affirmations. Each belief adds scores toward different personality traits that, in the end, comprise a profile. 1050 men and women between 18 and 65 years of age in Buenos Aires, Comodoro Rivadavia, Córdoba, Corrientes, Mendoza, Rosario, and San Miguel de Tucumán were surveyed via telephone in 2016. The study repeated in 2017 with a different group, yielding similar results.
According to the research, the four non-exclusive patterns that prevail among Argentines are narcissism (45 percent), obsession (32 percent), histrionicity (32 percent), and paranoia (30 percent). Narcissists generally feel “above the rules,” demand special treatment, and are excessively sensitive to “lack of respect or inadequate treatment.” 61 percent of Argentines said they “do not tolerate people who disrespect them.” 30 percent said that “recognition, veneration and admiration are very important.” Obsessive personalities are predominantly concerned with order, perfection, and mental control. 33 percent of respondents consider themselves perfectionists. Histrionic people constantly seek approval and tend to be theatrical in their emotions. 65 percent agreed that feelings and intuition are more important than rational thinking and planning – a statistic at odds with obsessive personality traits. Paranoid personalities mistrust others, and treat their actions as suspect without evidence. 54 percent of respondents feel unsafe trusting others.
Myriad characteristics comprise one personality. The crux of the question, according to Medrano, is how rigid we are with respect to them. Narcissism becomes a problem if it makes citizens unable to think of themselves as part of a civil project that transcends them, said Roberto Sivak, psychiatrist and professor in the Department of Mental Health at UBA. Claudia Guevara, director of the carrera of International Relations and Political Sciences at the Universidad Siglo 21, sees narcissism and paranoia as traits of Argentine leaders in the late twentieth century, who legitimized cults of personality after economic crises.
The study does not otherwise account for social or political factors. The fact that 42 percent of Argentines are “generally satisfied with their lives,” up from 36 percent last year, may be attributed to socioeconomic improvement. Though 55 percent overall feel they “need to have full control of their emotions,” more men than women affirmed this, which may result from gendered expectations.
Regional differences provoke further questions. Higher levels of narcissism were observed in Corrientes and Buenos Aires, histrionism in Córdoba and Capital, and paranoia in Corrientes, Mendoza and Tucumán. And since the study only surveyed city folk, a profile of the campo seems in order.