Personal Growth

Take This Quiz to Find Out If You're a Covert Narcissist

Everybody knows a narcissist or two. They're always talking about themselves, bragging about their accomplishments, bristling at the slightest criticism, and, of course, preening for the mirror (except maybe not). Well, as it turns out, not every narcissist is so easy to spot. In fact, if you take the covert narcissist test, you might find out there's one hiding inside your own head.

Secretly Self-Centered

If you take nothing else away from this article, just remember that you don't always have to be talking about yourself to always be thinking of yourself. Like their counterpart, the overt narcissist, covert narcissists are distinguished by three key personality traits: conceitedness, self-indulgence, and disregard of others' feelings and well-being. They differ, however, in how those traits express themselves. While an overt narcissist might openly brag about their brains, looks, or talent, a covert narcissist keeps those beliefs to themselves. It's worth noting, by the way, that both expressions reflect the insecurity of the individual.

In fact, the covert narcissist protects their inflated sense of self-worth by keeping it to themselves. That doesn't mean it doesn't leak out into the world in other ways, however. Writing for Psychology Today, Preston Ni noted a few of the characteristics that might make a covert narcissist stand out in your social circle. Quiet smugness, self-absorption, and a lack of empathy are all giveaways. But so is extreme sensitivity and a tendency to see themselves as misunderstood and "special." While more extroverted narcissists can be very charming, covert narcissists may have a harder time developing close relationships and may come off as cold and impersonal.

Take the Test

Sound a little too familiar? Don't worry if you display some or all of these traits — everyone does to some degree. Even if you're a covert narcissist passing as a run-of-the-mill introvert, consider this test a gentle reminder of the ways you can be more considerate of other people. But enough stalling. Here's the covert narcissist test, also known as the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale, after the one designed by psychologist Jonathan Cheek in 1997. Answer each question with a number between 1 and 5, where 1 means "very uncharacteristic or untrue" and 5 means "very characteristic or true."

1. I can become entirely absorbed in thinking about my personal affairs, my health, my cares or my relations to others.

2. My feelings are easily hurt by ridicule or the slighting remarks of others.

3. When I enter a room I often become self-conscious and feel that the eyes of others are upon me.

4. I dislike sharing the credit of an achievement with others.

5. I feel that I have enough on my hands without worrying about other people's troubles.

6. I feel that I am temperamentally different from most people.

7. I often interpret the remarks of others in a personal way.

8. I easily become wrapped up in my own interests and forget the existence of others.

9. I dislike being with a group unless I know that I am appreciated by at least one of those present.

10. I am secretly "put out" or annoyed when other people come to me with their troubles, asking me for my time and sympathy.

Now, add up your numbers. According to Cheek, the average score for a college student is a 29. A score of less than 23 means you rank very low for covert narcissism, while a score of more than 35 is creeping into self-centered territory.

Get stories like this one in your inbox or your headphones: sign up for our daily email and subscribe to the Curiosity Daily podcast.

Need to rid yourself of a narcissist? Here's a handbook: "Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare" by Shahida Arabi (free with your trial membership to Audible). We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Reuben Westmaas November 30, 2018

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.