To measure their anger, students were asked to help make lunch for the person who'd graded their essays. They were informed that the grader hated spicy food, so researchers took note of how much hot sauce each student put into their grader's food.
Some of the low scorers didn't dish up any hot sauce for their grader.
"My bad grade essay wasn't going to affect my life in any way. And if they strongly disliked hot spicy sauce, then I guess I'd make their day a little bit better," said one of the students.
"If she doesn't like my writing, I shouldn't punish her for that," said another.
Some, however, added lots of hot sauce.
"I mean … he's gonna give me a grade F on a paper. Might as well give him a little bit of, uh, some spicy food to eat," said one who was obviously upset by the grade.
But it turns out some narcissists can learn when to stop, like Jeff Lewis, the high-strung star of Bravo's "Flipping Out." He buys Los Angeles homes, redecorates them and then flips them to new owners for a big profit. It's a high-pressure occupation.
"I have a very short fuse and I have a very bad temper," he said.
But he says he's seen the light and gone to work on his flaws.
"I'm a reformed narcissist. Reformed," Lewis said.
How did he do it? "Therapy, life coach, psychics, spiritual healers, scream therapy."
Seeing himself on TV turned things around for the most part.
"I was a little shocked because I thought I had done so much work on myself to be a better guy and I realized I have so much more work to do," he said.
He may never be an easygoing guy, but Lewis offers hope that the double trouble of anger and narcissism doesn't have to be a life sentence.