Why are people so unkind? 25 big reasons (+ what to do about it)

People can be cruel, but why?

Are people just mean-spirited by nature? Or do they have a reason for their actions?

Let’s jump right in and take a look at the top 25 reasons that might lead to such an attitude.

1) They’re self-centered

Selfish people tend to be mean. They don’t care about other people’s feelings – they only care about their own.

2) They’re immature

Some people are unkind because they were hurt in the past and are still holding onto the pain.

This means that they may not have learned to be empathetic and understanding.

Simply put, they’ve got some emotional growing-up to do.

3) They’re envious of others’ success

They don’t like seeing other people happy and successful and want that for themselves instead of being happy for them.

And it doesn’t stop there.

They will say negative things behind other people’s backs or even try to sabotage their efforts in succeeding at something, like trying to get a job promotion.

4) They’re judgmental

People who are judgmental tend to be unkind.

They judge people by what they think are superficial things.

For example, they see someone who has a great style, or who looks amazing and they judge them as being shallow and wasting time on trivial things when they could be spending it on more important matters.

But wait – there’s more!

People who are judgmental tend to be mean, and they often have no sense of humor.

5) They’re mean to animals

There are many reasons why people are mean to animals, from the lack of education on how to help an animal in need, to the belief that they have a right to treat animals however they please.

Some people were never taught about compassion.

Here’s another reason.

Some people were hurt by an animal as a child – for example, they got bit by a dog – and they have never dealt with that trauma. As a result, today, they hate dogs and treat them cruelly.

6) They’re mean because of their own insecurities

It’s important to remember that people can be cruel because of their own insecurities. It may not always be malicious, but they often feel threatened by others who are different from them and act out in a way that is very hurtful.


They might say things or do things without thinking about how it will make the other person feel.

Because many people lack empathy or compassion for those different from themselves, they might give into negative impulses when confronted with someone else who seems different.

7) They’re jealous

Here’s the deal, jealous people tend to be unkind.

Their jealousy stems from a lack of self-esteem.

They may have a history of being rejected by others and feel that they have to compete with others in order to get what they want.

This can then lead to aggression or even attempting to sabotage the success of others in order to make themselves feel better about themselves.

8) They’re selfish

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They don’t care about anyone else’s feelings.

People who are selfish tend to be unkind. They don’t care about other peoples’ feelings of hurt or sadness, and they may even get angry when they see other people’s success.

Wait, there’s more:

They think that they deserve good things more than everyone else because they are the only ones who are working hard enough to achieve their goals.

9) They’re lazy

People who are lazy are often envious of others who can do all of the things they want to do.

Let me explain:

People who are envious of others often find themselves in a situation where they have to work hard for little reward. This can be frustrating because the lazy person would rather do nothing than put forth effort into something that might not turn out well and then need to start all over again.

The frustration from being stuck in this cycle will lead them towards an idea or thought about how nice it must be for someone else, which makes them feel even worse about their own life.

Lazy people tend to be unkind because they are not willing to work hard for something. They may think if someone else does the work for them, then it’s no longer their problem.

They also avoid taking on any kind of responsibility and prefer the task to fall on others.

10) They’re greedy

People who are greedy can often be found in the workplace. They may want to take credit for a colleague’s work or sabotage them by spreading false information about their performance, even if it means getting their colleague fired.

You see, selfish people are more likely to be mean because money and status are what they care about. They have no real interest in helping others but are only interested in getting the most for themselves.

In addition, greed can cause someone to become very self-centered which makes it difficult for other people as well as themselves.

11) They’re scared

Some people are unkind because they’re scared.


This may be a result of past trauma, or it could simply stem from their upbringing and the way that they were brought up by parents who taught them to believe in certain values like being tough and not showing any weakness.

In order for these individuals to feel safe around others, one thing that might help is getting into therapy where an individual can talk about what’s going on inside themselves as well as how society has affected them negatively over time.

12) They lack compassion

People who lack compassion are often very ruthless in their behavior.

They may lack empathy and feel no remorse when it comes to doing things that other people might not like, especially if they’re doing it to get something that they want out of the situation.

13) They’re scared of change

Some people are mean because they’re scared of change.

It’s because they don’t want to change their ways and be exposed to new things, which could make them feel vulnerable.

They might also be afraid of the unknown and what might happen if they let go of what’s familiar to them.

They’re afraid of trying something new because they feel like it will ruin a part of their current lifestyle.

14) They’re angry

People who are angry can be mean because they feel like they haven’t received the respect or attention that they deserve.

They may be feeling ignored or disrespected, and so they might lash out at others in order to get their attention.

They’re angry because they feel as though they have been wronged in some way or that their needs are not being met.

Sometimes, people may be angry because of a traumatic experience in their life.

15) They lack self-esteem

People who lack self-esteem are often mean because they feel like they’re not worth anything.

Turns out that they may have been brought up to believe that they’re not good enough or that they’re not smart enough, and so this can cause them to lash out at others in order to prove that they are in fact worthy of respect and attention.

16) They’re scared of failure

Some people are afraid of failure and this causes them to become very critical of others as well as themselves. Moreover, this can cause them to feel as though other people aren’t good enough for them.


They’re scared of failure because they feel as though they might not succeed at whatever it is that they have set out to do. They believe that if they fail, others will judge them and think less of them.

This is a very common cause for an individual’s lack of self-esteem because it makes these individuals believe that no matter how hard or how much work these individuals put into something.

17) They lack self-awareness

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People who lack self-awareness are often mean because they don’t understand that they have certain feelings and emotions inside them.

They don’t know how to recognize their feelings and they don’t know how to express themselves.

They often come across as unkind and sometimes as angry.

18) They’re afraid of intimacy

People who are afraid of intimacy may lash out at others because they feel as though they have to get attention or prove that they are worthy in order to be accepted and loved.

They’re afraid of intimacy because they feel as though their partner or friend is going to hurt them and that they don’t want to be hurt.

They may also be afraid of being vulnerable, which is another reason why these individuals lash out at others in order to protect themselves from the pain of vulnerability.

Their unkind or mean behavior is actually a shield protecting them from getting hurt.

19) They lack empathy

People who lack empathy can be mean because they don’t understand why other people do the things that they do. They can’t relate to other people’s feelings.

This can cause these individuals to act in ways that are very cruel and hurtful towards other people because they don’t understand that they have feelings and emotions too.

They don’t care about the consequences of their actions.

These types of people are commonly known as psychopaths.

20) They want to be loved

All people want is to be loved.

Unfortunately, they don’t know how to get what they want so they go about it the wrong way.

Sometimes they may act unkindly or lash out at others in order to make sure that they are being listened to. They don’t know how else to get the attention that they need.

People who want to be loved are often mean because they don’t feel as though they deserve to be loved.

They may think that it is their fault that they don’t have a loving and caring person in their life, which can cause these individuals to lash out at others because they don’t feel worthy of being treated nicely or with respect.

21) They have low self-esteem

Some people have very low self-esteem and this causes them to act unkindly towards others in order to feel better about themselves.

Think about it:

They might lash out at others in order for other people not to know about their weaknesses and issues, which can cause these individuals to lose themselves because they don’t understand why their actions or words affect other people so much.

22) They don’t know how to express themselves

Some people don’t know how to express themselves, they don’t know how to communicate with others.

This can be quite frustrating for all parties involved.

In my experience, people who don’t know how to express themselves can often appear mean and even aggressive because they don’t have the tools necessary to communicate their feelings and needs to other people.

23) They are manipulative

People who are manipulative are sometimes mean in order to have the upper hand with other people. They are manipulative in order to get what they want.

Sometimes as a result of their manipulative behavior, they are unkind to other people. They can get so lost in chasing after what they want that they forget everything else and can become very aggressive or mean towards others.

24) They like attention

All attention is good attention, even when it’s negative attention.

Do you ever wonder why some people are mean, or why they seem to enjoy inflicting pain and suffering on others?

These people are called bullies.

Bullying is a social problem that affects millions of people, both children and adults. As humans, it is natural for us to have feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and anger. When we feel these emotions, it is tempting to take out those emotions on others by bullying them in a variety of ways.

Turns out that most of the time bullies are only seeking attention from the recipients of their abuse.

25) They feel inferior

Inferiority is a feeling of not being good enough, which can lead to negative behaviors such as bullying, gossiping, and gossip mongering.

This feeling leads people to compare themselves to others and feel inadequate. When someone feels inferior, it often leads them to act out in ways that make them feel better about themselves.

People who feel inferior are often mean to others. This is true regardless of whether or not they’ve been bullied, and regardless of the person’s gender, age, race, or sexual orientation.

Many times people who feel inferior blame others for their deficiency in self-esteem.

No wonder that people who feel inferior tend to lack compassion, they’re too busy being critical.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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