Covert narcissist checklist: 15 Items


Narcissism is of two types- overt and covert.1

Overt narcissists are your usual, extroverted narcissists who openly display their sense of superiority and lack of empathy. They tend to have a high self-esteem.

Covert or vulnerable narcissists, on the other hand, have the same superiority goals, but they manage to keep it under the radar. They tend to have low self-esteem and are likely to be introverted.2

While overt narcissists may appear charming at first, they soon become intolerable due to their constant need for admiration and other annoying traits. When others understand their narcissism, they tend to cut off contact to preserve their mental health.

Covert narcissists, in contrast, seem to be aware of the negative social consequences of overt narcissism. Hence, they adopt a more hidden route to meet the same needs. Due to this, it can take years and decades for others to catch on to them.

Covert narcissism is, therefore, a socially intelligent form of narcissism.

In the checklist below, I’ve focused only on the covert aspects of narcissism and eliminated any traits that overlap between overt and covert narcissism.

Covert narcissist checklist

Check off items that apply.

Suffers from low self-esteem
Prone to anxiety and depression
Feelings are easily hurt by criticism or ridicule
Hides shame and anger in the face of defeat
Highly resistant to change
Has a victim mentality
Can hold a grudge for a long time
Passive-aggressive tendencies
Devalues self to fish for compliments
Criticizes others from the sidelines
Cynical and sarcastic
Overly focused on others' misfortunes
Apologizes insincerely
Shows false humility
Prone to conspiracy theories


  1. Given-Wilson, Z., McIlwain, D., & Warburton, W. (2011). Meta-cognitive and interpersonal difficulties in overt and covert narcissism. Personality and Individual Differences50(7), 1000-1005.
  2. Wink, P. (1991). Two faces of narcissism. Journal of personality and social psychology61(4), 590.