Are Workaholics Narcissists?

Nov, 2021

When we talk about -isms, we are talking about abstract nouns. What do you understand by the terms workaholism, perfectionism and narcissism?

Vocabulary list 

• Students read each word followed by the definition, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• The teacher reads the sample sentence and the students repeat, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• After reading the list, students try to make their own example sentences using the words that are new to them. 

• Students share their example sentences and the teacher gives feedback, correcting errors if necessary.

trait (noun)


a quality or characteristic that someone or something has

A common trait amongst grandiose narcissists is an inability to accept criticism.


narcissism (noun)


a selfish, inconsiderate and egotistical character type

Many psychologists suggest that social media encourages narcissism.


inferiority (noun)


the condition of not being good, or not being as good as something of better quality

The inferiority of the building materials was obvious to the surveyor.


correlate (verb)


to have a relationship or connection

The symptoms of his illness correlated with his lifestyle of alcohol and drugs.


call it quits (phrase)

kɔːl ɪt kwɪts

to give up; to end something that you have been doing or enduring for a long time

The relationship was not getting any better so we decided to call it quits.


maladaptive (adjective)


having an adaptation that is not suitable for particular conditions

The patient’s maladaptive behaviour was caused by a childhood trauma.


dysfunctional (adjective)


characterised by unhealthy, negative and damaging behaviour or conditions

Children from dysfunctional families often develop psychological problems.

Are Workaholics Narcissists?

According to a study conducted by researchers at Anadolu University in Turkey, workaholism may be connected to the personality traits of narcissism and perfectionism.

Over three hundred academics working at universities in Turkey completed an online survey assessing factors that included levels of workaholism, perfectionism and feelings of inferiority – also known as ‘useless superiority effort’. The results showed that there was a correlation between all of these personality traits.  

In one example, participants were asked if they agreed with the statement – ‘I often feel frustrated because I can’t meet my goals’. The results showed that those who agreed with this statement were also likely to agree with the statements – ‘I insist on getting the respect that I deserve’ and ‘I find myself continuing to work after my coworkers have called it quits’. 

Elif Çimşir, co-author of the study, said that academics “are known to experience more workaholism”. She said that “academic positions appear to be attractive for certain people with narcissistic personality traits given the ample opportunity for prestige, social approval, admiration and recognition”.

Those respondents who had high standards, but a large gap between their standards and their performance, had the highest scores for workaholism and useless superiority effort. These people are know as ‘maladaptive’ perfectionists and it is believed that this group may have elevated expectations for themselves because they want to feel superior to others. This makes it more difficult for them to switch off from their jobs.  

The study found that those who had the lowest scores for perfectionism, narcissism, workaholism and useless superiority effort had higher levels of well-being and a better work-life balance. Researchers, however, did not find any difference in the number of hours each group worked per week. “Weekly working hours are not associated with any of the dysfunctional personality characteristics that workaholism is associated with” said Çimşir. “This indicates that workaholism does not just mean working long hours, but rather indicates difficulty detaching from work-related thoughts and feelings.” 

According to Healthline, being obsessed with succeeding at work, allowing personal relationships to suffer because of work, and working to avoid dealing with problems in life are all symptoms of workaholism. This leads people to work long hours even when it is not necessary.



1. The research study found that most workaholics are narcissistic perfectionists.



2. Those who got frustrated when unable to meet their goals were also likely to…

a. give up on difficult tasks
b. be very demanding of their colleagues
c. believe they were superior to their colleagues


3. Which of these statements is true of ‘maladaptive perfectionists’?

a. They don’t perform as well as they think they do.
b. They perform better than their colleagues.
c. They expect others to perform as well as they do.


4. According to the study, people who had a more conventional attitude to work lacked self-confidence.



5. According to the study, the people with low levels of perfectionism and workaholism worked less than those who scored higher in these aspects.



6. In the conclusion, what do the study’s findings suggest is the reason for workaholism?


  • What are your thoughts on the findings of this study?
  • Are there any people that you know who are workaholics? If so, what are they like to be around?
  • Are there any people that you know who are perfectionists? If so, what are they like to be around?
  • If you were in charge of hiring people, what personality traits would you look for?
  • Do you feel like you have a good work-life balance?
  • What would you say is the most frustrating thing about your job?
  • What aspects of your job do you find most rewarding?
  • What do you find to be the best ways to switch off from work?
  • What does your workplace do to promote mental health and well-being among employees?
  • “Perfectionists are people who take great pains and give them to other people” ― Marianne Neifert. What do you think this statement means?