Overt narcissism test

Covert Narcissism Test

In recent years, the distinction between overt and covert narcissism has become accepted in personality and social psychological research. The distinction between overt and covert narcissism is based on the two facets of maladaptive narcissism identified by psychologist Paul M. Wink as Grandiosity-Exhibitionism (overt) and Vulnerability-Sensitivity (covert). This test explores subclinical personality features related to the vulnerable and sensitive narcissistic style, also known as covert narcissism.

What is your covert narcissism score? For each of the following questions, indicate how well it describes you below.

The IDRlabs Covert Narcissism Test is based on the Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale authored by Jonathan M. Cheek, Holly M. Hendin, and Paul M. Wink. IDRlabs is not affiliated with the mentioned researchers or their institutions.

The test provides feedback such as the following: Your score represents a result reflecting extremely high covert narcissism in relation to traits associated with vulnerable self-esteem and covert narcissism. Your score is extremely elevated compared to the population average. Depending on your individual response to each question, this result may reflect introversion or traits related to sensitivity or anxiety. There are certain overlaps among the Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale and other instruments that measure introversion and sensitivity.

Traits or symptoms experienced in association with vulnerable self-esteem related to covert narcissism may present as increased need for external validation, attention, and admiration; high introversion; high anxiety; hypersensitivity toward perceived criticism, humiliation, neglect, or belittlement; shamefulness and delusions of persecution; strong envy and a tendency to be judgmental; low self-confidence and high defensiveness along with social awkwardness; shyness; emotional dysregulation; a tendency toward interpersonal conflict and antagonistic behavior, and an altruistic, humble self-presentation. A higher score may reflect more severe traits related to covert-vulnerable narcissism.

The MCNS (Cheek, Hendin & Wink 2013) is an expansion of the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale (HSNS; Hendin & Cheek 1997) in which Hendin and Cheek correlated items from the Narcissism Scale (Murray, 1938) with a composite of the two MMPI-based measures of covert narcissism used in Wink’s research. The first 10 items on the expanded MCNS test are similar to the items of the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale (HSNS, 1997), and the following 13 items are added with the scale expansion (MCNS, 2013) for a total of 23 items that measure vulnerable self-esteem.

The MCNS is designed to measure subclinical traits related to vulnerable self-esteem and covert narcissism as proposed by Wink in his related body of research into vulnerable narcissism. The MCNS cannot be used as an instrument to diagnose a personality disorder, nor should it be confused with an instrument measuring psychopathology in a clinical or psychiatric context. A psychological evaluation should be performed in cooperation with a mental health professional.

The authors of this online personality test are certified in the use of multiple personality tests and have worked professionally with typology and personality testing. The results of our online quiz (or personality test) are provided "as-is" and should not be construed as providing professional or certified advice of any kind. For more on our online personality test, please consult our Terms of Service.

3 Minute Closet Narcissism Test

Closet Narcissism is distinguished from normal narcissism by the fact that closet narcissists hide their grandiosity behind a façade of sensitivity or introversion.

Instructions: Below is a list of questions that relate to life experiences common among people who rank high in closet narcissism. Read each question carefully and indicate whether it applies to you or not.

The IDRlabs 3 Minute Closet Narcissist Test (IDR-3MCNT) was developed by IDRlabs. The IDR-3MCNT is based on the work of Dr. Jonathan M. Cheek, Ph. D., Dr. Holly M. Hendin, M.D., Ph.D., and Dr. Paul M. Wink, Ph.D., who created the expanded version of the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale (The Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale). The IDR-3MCNT is not associated with any specific researchers in the field of psychopathology or with any affiliated research institutions.

The IDRlabs 3 Minute Closet Narcissist Test was informed by the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale, as published in Cheek, Jonathan & Hendin, Holly & Wink, Paul. (2013). An Expanded Version of the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale (The Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale). Hendin, H.M., & Cheek, J.M. (1997). Assessing Hypersensitive Narcissism: A Re-examination of Murray's Narcissism Scale. Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 588-599. Kaufman, S.B. (2013). 23 signs you’re secretly a narcissist masquerading as a sensitive introvert. Scientific American.

The work of Dr. Cheek, Dr. Hendin, and Dr. Wink has also informed some of the diagnostic criteria in the form of the widely used psychological instrument, the Maladaptive Closet Narcissism Scale, for clinical use, especially by qualified mental health professionals. The present test is intended for educational purposes only. IDRlabs and the present IDRlabs 3 Minute Closet Narcissist Test are independent of the above researchers, organizations, and their affiliated institutions.

The 3 Minute Closet Narcissist Test is based on a famous and well-regarded inventory for the assessment of covert and introvert narcissism, which is a more hidden condition than stereotypical narcissism and yet can suggest the same self-conceit and maladaptive behavior. However, free online tests and quizzes such as this one are solely first takes and cannot provide accurate assessments of your potential personality disorder. Hence, the test is intended to be used for educational purposes only. A definitive mental health assessment can be made only by a qualified mental health professional.

As the publishers of this free online 3-Minute Closet Narcissist test, which allows you to screen yourself for the signs and symptoms of this condition, we have strived to make the test as reliable and valid as possible by subjecting it to statistical controls and validation. However, free online quizzes such as the present 3-Minute Closet Narcissist Test do not provide professional assessments or recommendations of any kind; the test is provided entirely “as-is.” For more information about any of our online tests and quizzes, please consult our Terms of Service.

signs, causes and how to respond

Recognizing a person with covert narcissism is not an easy task. We tell you what signs indicate this type of personality and how to properly interact with such people.

Valeria Skripko


Sometimes we can recognize a daffodil right away. This is usually the one who is in the spotlight, for example, loudly tells incredible stories about his achievements, thereby arousing a sense of admiration in others. And can we meet people within the same room who are obsessed with their importance, but in whom it is not so easy to discern a narcissist? Yes, in fact, this is another narcissistic personality type, only with less obvious characteristics. nine0003

Contents of the article

Narcissistic personality traits

The term "narcissist" is often used to describe those people who seem to us to be a little self-centered. However, in terms of clinical psychology, a person must meet certain criteria in order to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

Common narcissistic traits include

  • a sense of self-importance,
  • fantasy of popularity and fame,
  • exaggeration of one's abilities, talents and achievements,
  • craving for attention and recognition,
  • manipulating people and lack of empathy,
  • preoccupation with beauty, power or success.

In general, people with narcissistic personality disorder are concerned about their own success. They also find it difficult to build or maintain relationships with others due to their manipulative behavior and lack of empathy.

Who is a covert narcissist?

A covert narcissist is one who craves admiration and attention and does not feel empathy for others, but may act differently than an overt narcissist. Analyzing the behavior of narcissists, it is difficult to imagine that any of them can suppress their nature. The covert narcissist appears modest or withdrawn in appearance, but his ultimate goals are the same as those of everyone else.

Causes of covert narcissism

The exact causes of covert narcissism are not entirely clear, but it is likely that a number of circumstances contribute to this condition. Experts suggest that narcissistic personality disorder is due to factors such as:

  • genetics,
  • childhood abuse and trauma,
  • parenting and relationships,
  • personality and temperament.

One study found that people with narcissistic personality disorder were more likely to grow up with parents who were highly focused on social status and achievement. Future narcissists felt their superiority over other children and considered themselves special, and all this carried over into adulthood. However, it is still unclear why narcissistic behavior is sometimes hidden rather than open. nine0003

Differences between open and covert narcissism

Covert narcissists differ from others only in that they tend to be more introverted. An open narcissist is easy to recognize: they tend to be loud, arrogant, indifferent to the needs of others, and always crave compliments. Such a person exhibits more extraverted behavior when interacting with people.

However, both covert and open narcissists have a sense of self-importance and dream of success and fame. In addition, each of them is unable to regulate their self-esteem. nine0003

Signs of a covert narcissist

Here are some common traits and behavioral patterns that will help you recognize a covert narcissist in everyday life.

Low self-esteem

If an extroverted narcissist does not hide an inflated sense of self-esteem and an arrogant attitude towards others, then everything is not so obvious with a hidden narcissist. The latter, of course, craves attention and admiration, but in the eyes of others it may look different. Such individuals make ambiguous compliments and deliberately downplay their achievements or talents so that people will convince them otherwise. nine0003

An open narcissist will attract attention, while a hidden narcissist will use softer tactics to achieve the same goals. He needs people to praise his talent, skills, and accomplishments.

Blame and shame

Blame is a tactic used by narcissists to secure their high position. An open narcissist will take a more obvious approach to gaining leverage, such as belittling and criticizing you, being rude and sarcastic. The introverted narcissist, in turn, will calmly explain why you are to blame for something, and not him. This type of person may even pretend to be a victim or emotionally abuse themselves in order to get support and praise from you. Their main goal is to make the other person feel worthless. nine0003

Creating confusion

Some covert narcissists enjoy being confused by others. They may not blame or shame anyone, but they will make you doubt yourself. Covert narcissists use similar tactics to elevate themselves and maintain power over people. If they make you doubt yourself, it becomes easier for them to manipulate you.


Covert narcissists will do everything to make the whole world revolve around them. It is no coincidence that they tend to gravitate toward caring and compassionate people. The covert narcissist sees this as an opportunity for manipulation. nine0003

Instead of directly telling you that you are not important to them, they may ask you out, respond to messages at the last minute, always be late, or never make clear plans at all. They show no respect for your time or interests, so you start to feel small and vulnerable.

Pursuit of specific goals

Narcissists find it difficult to invest energy in something that does not bring them any benefit. Covert narcissists present everything in such a way that you feel like they are helping, but this behavior is shown with the intention of getting something in return. nine0003

Emotional indifference

Narcissists are unable to build and maintain emotional bonds with others. And the covert narcissist is no exception. While they may seem kinder and less obnoxious than their extrovert counterparts, they are not emotionally available or responsive.

Most likely, they will not bestow flattering words on you. Covert narcissists are always focused on staying on top of themselves in order to maintain their sense of self-importance, so it will be difficult for them to compliment someone. Usually, narcissists don't pay attention to anyone's abilities or talents at all. nine0003

Although covert narcissists appear to be more emotionally available, they tend to only pretend and do so in order to make the other person feel worthless due to neglect, blame, or shame. Because lack of empathy is a hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder, the covert narcissist will not respond emotionally to their partner in a healthy way.

How to Deal With a Covert Narcissist

You may now be in a relationship with a covert narcissist, be it a family member, co-worker, or someone else. Although you cannot control their actions, you can manage your behavior and interact differently with such people. Here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself when dealing with a closet narcissist. nine0003

Don't take it personally

No matter how painful the covert narcissist's manipulative behavior may be for you, it's important to remember that it has nothing to do with you. Narcissists want you to take it personally because that's how they maintain leverage.

Set boundaries

Narcissists don't have healthy boundaries. Because covert narcissists lack empathy, they exploit others, and personal boundaries are what can get in the way of their goals. The more you practice setting boundaries with the narcissist, the sooner you will be able to convey that his tactics are not working. nine0003

Setting boundaries can be very difficult. Remember that this is just a way to communicate your values ​​to others. Understanding why you set certain boundaries will help you be more confident and stay on track if someone tries to violate or ignore them.

Protect Yourself

It's easy to lose your voice when dealing with a covert narcissist. Since interaction patterns are too manipulative, it may take you a while to realize that you are not protecting yourself at all. nine0003

Define your values ​​and goals. Strengthening your relationship with yourself is the key to interacting with a narcissist. When you start to defend yourself, the narcissist realizes that you know about their tactics, which may cause him to retreat.

Create a healthy distance

Relationships with a covert narcissist can be frustrating and overwhelming. There are times when creating distance between you and that person seems impossible, such as with a family member or colleague. nine0003

Restricting face-to-face contact, asking to be moved to another location in your office, taking breaks at different times, or simply ending interactions is a solution if you are suffering from someone's narcissism. The purpose of creating distance is not to harm the other person, but to protect yourself.

Are there hidden daffodils among your acquaintances?


find 10 differences — Monoclair

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"I am worthy", "I am a failure" or "I am special"? When it comes to narcissists, the image of narcissistic, flaunting people with high self-esteem arises in the minds of many. However, this misconception has little to do with reality. For the most part, narcissists are people with deep psychological problems, deformed criteria for evaluating themselves and others, and a weak sense of self-worth. Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman says that in recent years, researchers have learned about narcissism, how it differs from healthy self-esteem, how it is formed, and what unobvious consequences the constant pursuit of high appreciation can lead to even in those who do not suffer from a narcissistic disorder.


Today, almost everyone is familiar with the myth of Narcissus, who fell so in love with his reflection in the pond that he could do nothing more than admire himself. In the end, unable to take his eyes off his beautiful reflection in the water and see the real people around him, he withered and died. Did Narcissus have another way out? Did excessively high self-esteem lead to the tragedy, or was there something else?

For many years, psychologists and the media have interpreted narcissism as an inflated self-esteem or pumped self-esteem. However, not only the results of empirical observations of psychoanalysts, but even qualitative and quantitative studies of recent years cast doubt on this. It becomes clear that the phenomenon of narcissism is significantly different from the phenomenon of self-esteem - it has a different origin, dynamics of development, formation and consequences. nine0003

So does it make sense to try to increase self-esteem, or does it threaten that we cross the line of narcissism?

What's at the beginning?

Distinguish normal infantile, mature and pathological narcissism.

Normal infantile narcissism is the basis of the child's existence, the foundation of a healthy self-esteem, without which he will not subsequently survive. This type of narcissism develops from birth, serving as a guarantee of a fulfilling and fruitful relationship between mother and child. Normal infantile narcissism manifests itself before the age of 2-4, partially consolidates at the age of 6-7 and manifestly returns briefly at puberty, when the child once again asserts himself in an attempt to separate from his parents. nine0003

It should be noted that from the point of view of the danger of developing pathological narcissism, attention should be paid to the age from two to four years. Here it is important that the formation of a sense of separation from close people, who were previously perceived by the child as a tool for fulfilling his desires, takes place.

The second focus of attention of parents and teachers to narcissism should be provided during adolescence, when narcissism can be temporary and natural if the child has successfully passed the first period of narcissism, or pathological - if the sense of self and separation from significant ones has not yet formed. adults and he constantly needs to “re-pump” his sense of self-worth. nine0003

At 6-7 years old, when children learn to understand the image of themselves through the way others see them, they first establish themselves in the conclusion: "I am worthy", "I am a failure" or "I am special". If at an early stage of development, the parents provided the child with a healthy acceptance of him as he is, then the opinion of others is not so painfully perceived, it falls on healthy soil and strengthens the already existing image of himself as good enough. Otherwise, there is a feeling of not being good enough, and this reinforces the development of narcissism. nine0003

Parenting style has a profound effect on the maturation of a sense of self-worth or the manifestation of signs of narcissism. It depends on the parent and educator whether the child will forever remain a narcissist and thus stop in his mental development or continue to move. Will he learn to really evaluate himself or will he always distort reality, carefully selecting people in his retinue, creating a narcissistic environment around him.

The narcissism of the child is often the result of the narcissism of the parents. For example, parents who tend to overestimate the ability of their children, for example, saying: "My child knows everything there is to know about mathematics", the children subsequently show a high level of narcissism. Parents of such children tend to overestimate the IQ of the child, to exaggerate the effect of his school performances. These parents tend to give their children unique names to make them stand out from the crowd and stand out as parents themselves. In the end, their child learns this attitude, in which, as we see, there is a lot of latent parental doubt that he is good on his own, without achievements. And this “knowledge”, firmly learned by the child, then unconsciously controls his interaction with other people, causing trouble, suffering, forcing him to run faster and jump higher and higher. nine0003

In contrast, high self-esteem develops in conditions of parental warmth and acceptance, when parents know that their child is simply good. They share with children their confidence in this, respect, love, appreciation and tenderness. They treat children in such a way that they understand that only they themselves matter, and not what they do, how they look or what their name is. In the end, this parenting practice leads to the fact that the child learns a valuable message: he is a worthy person and himself is “ok”, which is the basis of healthy self-esteem. nine0003

The dynamics of the development of narcissism and self-esteem is interesting. While self-esteem is typically lowest during adolescence and gradually increases throughout life, narcissism peaks during adolescence and gradually decreases throughout life.

Therefore, narcissism and self-esteem seem to mirror each other throughout the entire cycle of personality development and the formation of the psyche.

Normal mature narcissism is infantile narcissism compensated by experience and good parenting. It is necessary for building successful relationships, career development and motivation. nine0003

However, pathological narcissism, which stems from a lack of true love and acceptance, is already a reflection of the child's self-idealization and grandiose self-image.

What is the result?

The classic grandiose narcissist, or narcissist, is a person who demonstrates arrogance, superiority, vanity, power; he exploits people, exhibits some form of exhibitionism, and suffers from an almost insatiable need to gain recognition from others. He will never admit it. nine0003

Those with healthy self-esteem also tend to feel satisfied with themselves or their activities, but they generally do not consider themselves superior to others and do not participate in the race for achievement.

An even better understanding of the difference between narcissism and self-esteem can be helped by a self-esteem test - the Rosenberg scale ⓘ The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale is a personal questionnaire for measuring the level of self-esteem and, to a certain extent, the level of self-esteem . . The test consists of such conclusions as "in general, I satisfied with myself”, “I feel that I have a number of good qualities” and “I can do the same as most other people”, etc. If a person agrees with these statements, this indicates that he has a healthy level self-worth and self-competence. nine0003

As Rosenberg himself said:

When we are dealing with self-esteem, we ask, first of all, whether a person considers himself adequate and worthy, and not whether he considers himself superior to others.

The narcissist will not be able to choose the answer that “he is generally satisfied with himself”, because deep down he feels inferior, and the narcissist will not “stand on a par with other people”, since he believes that he is superior to them. It is important.

Although narcissism is positively correlated with self-esteem, the similarity is actually small. For example, you may be sure that you are superior to others, but you may not consider yourself a worthy person. Conversely, you can think that you are worthy and competent, but do not put yourself above others. nine0003

One recent article sheds more light on the similarities and differences between narcissism and self-esteem.

The method of correlation analysis shows that between self-esteem and narcissism are common indicators such as self-confidence, positive emotions and the desire for a reward. But that's where the similarity ends. In fact, there was a 63% difference between narcissism and self-esteem, according to the study.

It was found that self-esteem is much stronger than narcissism associated with criteria such as conscientiousness and perseverance. Such a criterion as friendliness was generally not characteristic of narcissists, since they are more antagonistic. Between self-esteem and friendliness, the relationship was traced - it was not direct, but positive. nine0003

With regard to situations of interpersonal relationships, in 75% of cases, narcissism and self-esteem were different. Problems in relationships with people, various reactions of anger in the form of screaming, threats or physical aggression were inherent in narcissism, as well as the desire for inappropriate confrontation and for the possession of disproportionately large resources.

People with a high level of narcissism, as can be seen from the results of the study, also demonstrated a desire to be in the spotlight on social networks at any cost, while other network participants, and not themselves, were considered narcissistic, neurotic, unpleasant and promiscuous. Narcissistically oriented people did not see the beam in their own eye, but noticed the speck in someone else's, more often came into conflict, argued furiously, and were focused on comparing social achievements. nine0003

In contrast, people with high self-esteem demonstrated on social media a desire for constructive intimacy with others and perceived others as attractive, with strong leadership traits and high status, generally smart, likeable, and kind.

There were also clear differences in terms of psychopathology. Narcissism and self-esteem differed in 100% of the indicators, and this is due to such a thing as internalization.

While a low level of anxiety, a low tendency to depression and self-flagellation were directly related to the phenomenon of healthy self-esteem, all this was not characteristic of narcissism. On the contrary, narcissism is much more closely associated with externalizing behaviors, such as throwing out or placing one's anxious feelings in external objects, looking for an external enemy, acting out scenarios and dramas, antisocial behavior and aggression. At the same time, the use of substances as anesthesia in difficult situations, namely, alcohol/drug abuse, was also much more common with narcissism. nine0003

As for pathological features, according to the method of correlation analysis, narcissism showed a direct relationship for each pathological feature, while self-esteem was negatively correlated for all 30 pathological features.

Thus, according to the participants in the study, people with healthy self-esteem were completely uncharacteristic of detachment, disinhibition and psychotism, while these traits were traced in all cases in narcissists.

Narcissism was associated with hysterical personality disorder, while self-esteem was either unrelated or rather unrelated to hysterical behavior. nine0003

From this analysis, it is clear that it is much easier for narcissists to respond to emotions through action, not staying long in a relationship, to move quickly from one to another, than to try to get along and find a compromise with people.

Narcissism is always the need to dominate others in order to obtain more and more resources.

In contrast, high self-esteem is much more related to the desire to establish deep and intimate relationships with other people.


So should we try to increase self-esteem and how?

What conclusion can we draw regarding the question we posed at the beginning of the article? Does it make sense to try to increase self-esteem? To answer it, I think it is important to look deeper into history.

For 20 years in the US from the 70's to the 90's we have seen a craze for self-esteem. It definitely was something! The focus of attention of the whole society was to feel good at any cost. This was the answer to all life's problems. nine0003

And, accordingly, then a rollback followed, a movement began in the opposite direction from this very simplified understanding.

Roy Baumeister and colleagues reviewed the literature on self-esteem and found that the effect of healthy self-esteem is not as significant and widespread as commonly believed: self-esteem correlates most strongly with initiative and happiness. But correlation doesn't equal causation, and they didn't find enough evidence that an intervention to improve self-esteem actually results in any benefit or quality of life. So, how should we relate to the impact on self-esteem in our psychological work? nine0003

The main thing, I think, is that we can not be afraid that an attempt to increase self-esteem in children will inadvertently create a generation of narcissists. An increase in healthy self-esteem has nothing to do with the development of narcissism. Therefore, we have a huge job ahead of us, we must ensure that all students feel valued and respected, regardless of status, name or abilities.

The real problem lies in overestimating the child's real achievements and praising children for being special. As Eddie Brummelman points out:

Our task is to teach parents and teachers to express love and appreciation to children without declaring them superior to others and without requiring them to achieve. By doing so, parents and caregivers can help children feel happy for who they are, not because they are better than others.

I believe, continues Brumelman, that healthy self-esteem is a vitamin for your well-being, because low self-esteem can be a risk factor for the development of, for example, depression, regardless of whether the child is narcissistic or not. nine0003

But in the same way, if a person has an ample baseline of healthy self-esteem, then constantly striving for high self-esteem just to feel good all the time can be costly. Behind this desire, you can not notice life, namely, that you can learn and grow with pleasure, build relationships, make friends not in quantity, but for pleasure - i.e. to be authentic, which means being able to self-regulate their behavior, as well as mental and physical health. nine0003

If you have sufficient confidence in your self-esteem, it is good to focus on developing your relationships with other people, no matter how difficult these relationships may seem to you. Let genuine pride and strong positive emotions be a natural result of this process, and not a necessity that must be closed.

We all have difficult times and periods of uncertainty, so work on increasing compassion for yourself and others first, not developing self-esteem, and even less so do not participate in the race for achievement. nine0003

We hope that thanks to our material you will be able to fulfill yourself better and feel worthy of love and respect, and will also be able to help other people achieve the same in their lives - healthy, productive, authentic.

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