Campus News

Professor details how being a ‘gray rock’ protects against narcissism

Keith Campbell, professor of psychology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, recently spoke with CNN about becoming a “gray rock.”

Gray rocking is a strategy to deal with narcissists—those who depend on feeling important or special—and it essentially involves responding to them in bland, boring ways until they lose interest, according to Campbell.

“There is no real research on this, but I’ve talked to a lot of women in these relationships, and I’ve heard from people I really trust that this is something effective,” he said. “And it makes theoretical sense.”

There are varying types of narcissism, and Campbell offered a basic description.

“Narcissism in general means having an inflated view of oneself, kind of a lack of closer, emotionally warm relationships with other people, and also needing to be validated, or at least wanting to be admired or be loved,” he said.

Those who find themselves stuck in a conversation with a narcissist can “grey rock” by keeping responses as concise and bland as possible.

“They’re going to let go because what power do they have? They’re not charming, they can’t manipulate you, they can’t make you unstable,” Campbell said. “You’re just kind of doing your thing.”