6 signs someone probably isn’t a good person, according to psychologists

Growing up, I used to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Surely, other people thought just like me? Surely, they had good intentions at heart even if it wasn’t all that obvious?

It probably comes as no surprise that this kind of attitude got me into a bind more times than I can count. I’ve fallen for many different manipulation techniques and have had to unlearn a lot of people-pleasing tendencies before I finally arrived at the realization that not everyone was a good person.

This doesn’t mean some people are born inherently evil, of course.

However, the way we’re socialized and the way we respond to our circumstances tend to create multiple different combinations, and some of them aren’t very pleasant, to say the least.

So, how can you tell someone probably isn’t a good person? Here are the 6 signs to keep in mind.

1) They struggle to empathize with others

Let me preface this by saying that there are people who have quite low levels of empathy and who still manage to do just fine. 

I have a friend on the spectrum, for example, who struggles to empathize with others and yet tries his best. I would never say he’s not good by any means.

However, it also stands to reason that a lack of empathy is the first sign that someone could potentially find it difficult to be kind-hearted and open-minded.

And how does empathy work in practice, I hear you ask?

According to psychologists, “Empathy enables us to establish rapport with another person, make them feel that they are being heard, and, through words and body language, mimic their emotions.”

It’s also a crucial component of compassion. If you see someone crying, it is precisely empathy that makes your own heart hurt for them.

If your ability to empathize with other people is diminished, though, you might look at a crying person and feel nothing much. And while this isn’t necessarily your fault, the way you react to that state of mind and the kinds of actions you take do matter.

2) They are too narrow-minded

Having a closed mind is a very dangerous position to be in.

For one, it reduces your experience of life to a tiny fraction of what it could be.

Two, it forces you to live within narrow confines that don’t necessarily reflect the true nature of the world.

And three, it makes you a bit of a pain in the ass, worsening your relationships with others and reducing your ability to understand people from different walks of life.

But why are some people narrow-minded in the first place?

As counsellor Andrea Mathews LPC, NCC explains, “There are many who operate out of a closed mind as a coping mechanism for a deep-seated fear that they cannot even access, because to explore their own minds might be too frightening.”

She goes on to say, “The open-minded person is willing to explore his own mind and even find that he’s been wrong about something and self-correct. The closed-minded person is unwilling to do this. Being wrong is simply not safe.”

Unfortunately, the unwillingness to question one’s own beliefs and try to understand where other people are coming from makes it so that we might hold onto ideas and biases that are harmful and unkind.

3) They refuse to accept any kind of criticism

And that brings us to the next point.

If you stubbornly insist that your perspective is the only right one, the result is a strong hesitancy to accept any sort of negative feedback – even if it’s constructive and could help you grow.

A person like that will continue to act in the same way for years, if not decades, because they’re unwilling to change for the sake of becoming better and more pleasant to be around.

From making hurtful jokes to selfish or unreliable behavior, they refuse to budge – even if it costs them some valuable friendships or opportunities.

This kind of stubborn rejection of any criticism whatsoever might make it almost impossible for someone to work on themselves, which means they may not be very kind simply because they care more about their ego than about getting along with others.

4) They don’t take accountability for their actions

fake nice things people say to subtly control you 6 signs someone probably isn’t a good person, according to psychologists

One of my relatives has been deeply submerged in a victim mindset ever since I can remember. In her eyes, nothing is ever her fault – it is either other people, the government, or a larger power that’s responsible for her misfortune.

This ties into the whole rejecting criticism business, of course. If you can’t hold up your hands and say, “It was my fault, I apologize and I will do better in the future,” how are you meant to have thriving relationships with other people?

Perhaps even more importantly, how are you meant to grow as a person and get to know yourself better?

The issue is that people who refuse to take accountability essentially live in denial. Their lives are a fantasy. And their egos are so very fragile that if they were to pop that bubble, it’d take a great deal of effort to recover.

But oftentimes, that’s precisely what’s needed.

Mental health consultant Jamie Cannon MS, LPC puts it best when she writes, “There is immense strength in stepping out on a limb to permit vulnerability. Admitting to imperfection is the first step in opening horizons and learning new ways of restoration. Although it comes with colossal risk, accountability is a passage to recovery.”

5) They don’t shy away from manipulation

When it gets down to it, what makes someone bad rather than good? What is the characteristic that’d make you go, “Yep, this person isn’t someone I’d want as my friend?”

One answer would be manipulation and lying.

And that’s because people who aren’t afraid to manipulate others ultimately have a very different perception of the world and their relationships with other people, a perception that’s all about self-interest and a lack of empathy.

Manipulators see other people as a means to an end. They aren’t in it for the pure joy of a genuine human connection. They always have some ulterior motive or other, be it networking connections, social status, or even just a feeling of power.

Experts agree – Cannon writes that “manipulators who crave power and advantage over others will often resort to scheming to attain what they want. They use emotions to domineer others and for attention-seeking purposes, particularly when they feel situations are outside of their sphere of influence.”

For a manipulator, everything is about their own victory.

6) They don’t respect other people’s boundaries

Manipulation is essentially the art of pushing other people’s boundaries without their realizing it.

Therefore, it’s probably no surprise that someone who isn’t a good person doesn’t harbor any kind of intrinsic respect for other people’s boundaries or even rights.


Because they believe they are superior to others. They think themselves more intelligent and better in all the ways that matter, and as a result, they don’t assign as much value to others’ feelings when compared to their own.

If you state a boundary, they will eventually try to push it.

If you bring up an issue you’d like to discuss, they will twist the narrative so that they don’t have to take accountability.

If you try to set clear limits on the relationship at hand, you’ll have to reinforce them about five times to make sure the message is clear.

And that’s because someone who isn’t a good person only cares about themselves and their own gains.

Fortunately, plenty of people are the complete opposite. Make sure you pour your energy into those who truly deserve it.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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