Homophobia and collective narcissism in contemporary Poland

University College London

Project summary

Our aim is to investigate the mediating role of collective narcissism – defined as emotional investment in a belief in the exaggerated greatness of one’s in-group – in negative attitudes towards homosexuals in Poland. We will analyse whether the tendency to uphold traditional gender identities mediates the link between national collective narcissism and anti-gay attitudes, and also whether sexual guilt mediates the link between religious collective narcissism and anti-gay attitudes. The differentiation of collective narcissism allows us to study a non-contingent form of positive national and religious identity that can be theoretically delineated by research-based interventions to support greater tolerance towards homosexuality.


Principal Investigator
Dr Richard Mole

Senior Lecturer in Political Sociology and Deputy Director of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London. He received his PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics in 2003 and was an Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at UCL from 2003-05. His current research focuses the relationship between identity and power, with particular reference to nationalism, sexualities, migration, diaspora and asylum.

Dr Agnieszka Golec de Zavala

Senior Lecturer as the Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London and a Visiting Professor at University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland and ISCTE in Portugal. She has authored over 60 academic publications on the topic of intergroup relations. In her research, she has developed a specialized research agenda driven by a question: When people express prejudiced and what makes people fight with other groups in conflicts? She has developed empirical research on the concept of collective narcissism – a tendency to exaggerate the importance of one’s own group and to expect privileged treatment for it from others. She developed the Collective Narcissism Scale, now translated to more than 10 languages and frequently used in research. Her research demonstrates that collective narcissism predicts intergroup hostility, prejudice towards minorities, inability to forgive the wrongs done to the ingroup, political radicalisation and belief in conspiracy theories. Collective narcissism was implicated in voting in the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S. and the European referendum in the UK. Dr Golec de Zavala has also examined how prejudice towards essentialised minorities is embodied. Her research showed that prejudice towards gay people can, in some situations, be expressed as an increased need for cleansing. Dr Golec de Zavala is also an expert on cognitive and motivational underpinnings of political conservatism. She has examined how political beliefs interact with the complexity of political reasoning; motivated closed-mindedness (e.g. need for cognitive closure), and death anxiety in inspiring intergroup hostility.