A quirky new study in the European Journal of Finance has found narcissism is positively associated with the market performance of artworks, contradicting previous research.

Study author Yi Zhou assessed the narcissistic personality trait through measuring the size of the artists' signatures against the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, which generally finds that the bigger the signature, the bigger the ego.

Using a data set totalling 416,665 unique paintings - some of them by masters such as Picasso, Dali and Van Gogh - the researchers discovered that "one standard deviation increase in narcissism increases the market price by 16 per cent".

They also found that more narcissistic artists held a greater number of solo and group exhibitions, and that larger paintings sold for more.