10 classic signs of a fake nice person, according to psychology

Navigating the social world isn’t always easy, especially when dealing with people who seem nice on the surface but have ulterior motives.

Psychology offers a fascinating window into human behavior, including the ability to identify those who are genuine and those who are simply putting on an act.

Fake nice people, or as psychology calls them, “pseudo-kind” individuals, can be tricky to spot. They seem friendly and well-meaning, but beneath that polished exterior could be a different story.

In this article, we’re about to delve into 10 classic signs of a fake nice person”, backed by psychology. 

Let’s get started. 

1) They’re always smiling

If you’ve ever met someone who seems to be perpetually in a good mood, incessantly smiling, you might have met a fake nice person.

According to psychologists, genuine emotions are complex and fluctuate. It’s normal to have ups and downs.

But pseudo-kind individuals often maintain an unvarying, excessively cheerful exterior. This is because they believe it makes them more likable.

As famous psychologist Carl Jung once said, “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”

Genuine people are comfortable showing a range of emotions, including negative ones.

Fake nice people, on the other hand, often hide behind a permanent smile, afraid to reveal their true selves.

When you meet someone who seems too happy all the time, take a moment to observe if their smile reaches their eyes. If it doesn’t, you might be dealing with a fake nice person.

2) They’re quick to agree

I’ll never forget an interaction I had with a colleague a few years back. Let’s call her Lisa. Lisa was always quick to agree with everyone, never contradicting or voicing a differing opinion.

At first, I thought she was just exceptionally agreeable, but over time, I realized it was more about manipulation than genuine agreement.

People who consistently agree with others, even when they disagree internally, are often attempting to manage their image.

They want to be seen as agreeable and likable, which can be a sign of being a fake nice person.

In Lisa’s case, by always agreeing with everyone, she was able to sidestep conflict and maintain her image as the ‘nice one’.

But this behavior also meant that her true opinions and feelings were often hidden, making it hard to know the real Lisa.

Excessive agreement could be a telltale sign of a fake nice person.

3) They’re always fishing for compliments

Fake nice people often rely on external validation to feel good about themselves. This can manifest as constant fishing for compliments or excessive self-promotion.

This behavior reflects a deep-seated need for approval and recognition. As renowned psychologist

Abraham Maslow pointed out in his hierarchy of needs, the need for esteem, including recognition and respect from others, is a fundamental human motivation.

However, when this need is taken to an extreme, it can be a sign of a fake nice person.

These individuals often go out of their way to highlight their achievements or good deeds, not necessarily because they’re proud, but because they’re seeking validation.

When you encounter someone who can’t seem to stop talking about themselves, remember Maslow’s words: “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”

It might just be a sign that you’re dealing with a fake nice person.

4) They’re never the first to reach out

Have you noticed that some people seem to be always around, but they’re never the ones initiating contact? This could be a sign of a fake nice person.

These individuals may appear friendly and interested when you engage with them, but they rarely, if ever, make the first move.

This could be because they’re more focused on maintaining their image than on forming genuine connections.

Renowned psychologist Albert Bandura once said, “In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.”

Genuine people understand this and aren’t afraid to reach out and connect with others.

However, fake nice people often lack this sense of self-efficacy and resilience. They may fear rejection or judgement, which prevents them from initiating contact.

Keep an eye out for this behavior – it could be a sign of someone who is more concerned with appearing nice than being nice.

5) They’re overly defensive

Fake nice people often have a hard time handling criticism or negative feedback. Instead of taking it as an opportunity for growth, they tend to become overly defensive.

Individuals who are more concerned with projecting a positive image than with being authentic are more likely to react defensively to criticism.

They see it as a threat to the image they’ve carefully constructed, rather than as constructive feedback.

If you notice someone who reacts strongly to even the slightest criticism, it might be a sign that they’re a fake nice person.

Genuine people understand that everyone has room for improvement and are open to receiving feedback, while fake nice people often see criticism as a personal attack.

6) They lack empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s a crucial component of genuine kindness.

However, fake nice people often struggle with this. They may feign concern or sympathy, but their actions seldom match their words.

Famed psychologist Daniel Goleman, known for his work on emotional intelligence, once said, “Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike.”

If someone seems to always say the right things but fails to follow through with actions that demonstrate empathy, you may be dealing with a fake nice person.

Genuine kindness involves both understanding others’ feelings and acting compassionately – something that fake nice people often struggle with.

7) They gossip frequently

Gossiping is another frequent characteristic of a fake nice person. They often engage in gossip as a means to fit in or to manipulate others’ perception of them.

People who gossip often do so to boost their self-esteem and sense of belonging. However, it can also be a tool for manipulation and deceit.

If you notice someone engaging in gossip frequently, especially if it’s negative or harmful, it could be a red flag that they’re not as nice as they seem.

Remember, genuine people build others up, they don’t tear them down behind their backs.

8) They’re passive-aggressive

Passive-aggressive behavior is another classic sign of a fake nice person. They often mask their true feelings or intentions behind seemingly polite words or actions, resulting in a subtle form of hostility.

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung once said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

This statement rings true for passive-aggressive behavior. It’s a way for fake nice people to express their irritation or anger without confronting the issue directly.

If you notice someone often uses sarcasm, gives backhanded compliments, or shows signs of hidden hostility, they might not be as nice as they appear.

Genuine people express their feelings openly and directly, even when it’s uncomfortable.

9) They’re inconsistent

Inconsistency in words and actions is a telltale sign of a fake nice person. They might say one thing and do another, or change their behavior based on who’s around.

Individuals who demonstrate inconsistent behavior are often perceived as insincere or untrustworthy. This inconsistency can be a way to manipulate others’ perceptions.

If you notice someone’s actions don’t align with their words, or they seem to change their behavior based on their audience, it could be a sign that they’re not genuinely nice. 

A truly nice person is consistently considerate, regardless of the situation or who’s watching.

10) They’re always playing the victim

Lastly, fake nice people often play the victim. They have a knack for twisting situations to make themselves appear as the innocent party, even when they’re not.

Fake nice people often give this power away by portraying themselves as victims, in a bid to gain sympathy or manipulate others.

If you encounter someone who consistently blames others and avoids taking responsibility for their actions, it might be a sign that their niceness is a facade.

Genuine people take responsibility for their actions and don’t resort to playing the victim.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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