Arrogance vs Narcissism – 5 Main Differences

Have you ever been accused of being arrogant or narcissistic? Or do you know someone who seems to be one or the other and you are unsure which one? 

While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually have distinct meanings. Understanding the difference between arrogance and narcissism can help you better understand yourself and others.

Arrogance is often defined as an exaggerated sense of self-importance or superiority. While it may be off-putting to others, it is not necessarily a sign of a personality disorder. 

On the other hand, narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. While arrogance can be a behavior that anyone exhibits at times, narcissism is a diagnosable mental health condition that can significantly impact a person’s life and relationships.

When I was a teenager, I used the word narcissist to describe anyone that was looking in the mirror twice a day. I bet you can resonate with me here, but now that I better understand what narcissism is I feel a bit awkward when I think about it. Luckily for me, no one knew better.


Arrogance: Definition and Characteristics

Arrogance is a personality trait that is often characterized by an overbearing and exaggerated sense of self-importance. It is a behavior that can be seen in people from all walks of life, from politicians to business leaders to everyday individuals. 

Arrogant people often believe that they are superior to others and that their opinions and ideas are always right. They may also tend to belittle or dismiss the opinions and ideas of others.

Examples of Arrogant Behavior

Arrogant behavior can manifest in a variety of ways. Some common examples include:

  • Talking over others or interrupting them during conversations
  • Refusing to listen to other people’s opinions or ideas
  • Belittling or insulting others
  • Acting entitled or demanding special treatment
  • Assuming that their’s own opinions and ideas are always correct

Arrogance can also be demonstrated through body language, such as standing with one’s arms crossed or speaking condescendingly.

It is important to note that arrogance is different from confidence, here is an article about how to be confident without being arrogant

While confident people may have a strong sense of self-belief, they are also able to acknowledge the strengths and abilities of others. Arrogant people, on the other hand, often believe that they are the only ones who matter and that others are inferior.

Read Also: Arrogance vs Ignorance

Narcissism: Definition and Characteristics

If you’re wondering what narcissism is, it is a personality disorder that is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, a need for excessive admiration, and the belief that one is unique and deserving of special treatment. 

Narcissists often have a sense of entitlement and can be manipulative and exploitative in their relationships.

According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. They need and seek too much attention and want people to admire them. People with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others.


Examples of Narcissistic Behavior

Here are some examples of narcissistic behavior:

  • Believing that you are always right and others are always wrong
  • Expecting special treatment or privileges
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being envious of others and believing that others are envious of you
  • Having a sense of entitlement and expecting others to meet your needs without reciprocation
  • Being manipulative and exploitative in relationships
  • Talking too much about yourself

It’s important to note that not all people who exhibit these behaviors have narcissistic personality disorder. However, if these behaviors are chronic and pervasive, it may be a sign of a deeper issue.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have narcissistic personality disorder, it’s important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help diagnose the disorder and provide treatment options.

professional help

5 Differences Between Arrogance and Narcissism

Arrogance and narcissism are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Here are five differences between arrogance and narcissism:

  1. Arrogance is a behavior, while narcissism is a personality disorder. Arrogance is a behavior that is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, whereas narcissism is a personality disorder that affects a person’s entire personality and behavior.
  2. Arrogant people seek attention, while narcissistic people seek admiration. Arrogant people want to be the center of attention and will often talk about themselves and their accomplishments, while narcissistic people want admiration and will go to great lengths to get it.
  3. Arrogance is often a defense mechanism, while narcissism is a deep-seated personality trait. Arrogance is often a defense mechanism that people use to cover up their insecurities, while narcissism is a deep-seated personality trait that is difficult to change.
  4. Arrogant people can be taught to be humble, while narcissistic people cannot. Arrogant people can be taught to be humble and to recognize the contributions of others, while narcissistic people are often resistant to change and may not see anything wrong with their behavior.
  5. Arrogance is more common than narcissism. While both traits can be harmful, arrogance is more common and is often seen as a less severe form of narcissism.

It is important to note that not all arrogant people are narcissistic, and not all narcissistic people are arrogant. However, understanding the differences between these two traits can help you recognize them in yourself and others, and can help you avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

Overlap Between Arrogance and Narcissism

It can be difficult to distinguish between arrogance and narcissism, as they overlap significantly. 

Both traits involve an inflated sense of self-importance and a lack of empathy toward others. Arrogant individuals tend to believe they are superior to others and often seek to dominate conversations or situations. Narcissistic individuals also have a sense of superiority, but they may also have an intense need for admiration and validation from others.

Read Also: Arrogant vs Conceited


Understanding the difference between arrogance and narcissism is important for personal growth and healthy relationships. While both traits involve an inflated sense of self, arrogance is more of a behavior, while narcissism is a personality disorder. Arrogance can be corrected through self-reflection and a willingness to change, while narcissism requires professional help.

It’s important to remember that everyone has moments of arrogance, but it becomes problematic when it becomes a pattern of behavior. Narcissism, on the other hand, is a more extreme and damaging trait. It’s crucial to recognize the signs of narcissism in yourself or others and seek help if necessary.

I hope this article clarified those two terms for you, and now you know what to look for before labeling someone as a narcissist or arrogant.