Covert Narcissist Test: A Narcissist Or A Touchy Introvert?

— Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy.

Millions of people are genuinely both introverted and sensitive. And here comes the problem:

Experts say that many of those self-declared sensitive introverts may actually be covert narcissists. (By the way, most narcissists are generally aware that they are “narcissistic.”)

You can use a covert narcissist test to find out if the person—possibly you—who claims to be sensitive and introverted is a hidden narcissist.

There are reasons why covert narcissists may get away with posing as highly sensitive introverts. Let’s explore.

Similarities Between A Covert Narcissist & A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

Covert narcissists and highly-sensitive people (HSP) have some overlapping features:

  1. Criticism sensitivity: Both can get deeply shaken by criticism, although they may respond differently.
  2. Emotional intensity: Both may experience emotions intensely, though covert narcissists use this to control or belittle others, while HSPs feel overwhelmed and shy away.
  3. Desire for validation: Both may seek validation from others, albeit for different reasons—covert narcissists to maintain their false self-image and the HSPs to feel understood and accepted.
  4. Avoidance of conflict: Both tend to avoid conflict, although covert narcissists do so to maintain control while the HSPs do so to preserve peace and emotional well-being.
  5. Self-reflection: While both may excessively self-reflect, covert narcissists may do so to find ways to maintain their self-image, whereas the HSPs seek self-awareness to understand themselves better and grow.
  6. Perfectionism: Both may show perfectionist tendencies — covert narcissists, to maintain their facade of superiority; HSPs, to fulfill their tendency to be detailed and strive for excellence.
Covert Narcissist Test
How to spot a covert narcissist? (Photo by RODNAE Productions, Pexels)

Researchers Atlas & Them led two studies to check the link between narcissism and sensitivity to criticism, and they found:

  • Highly narcissistic people were more likely to seek feedback, while highly-sensitive people tended to avoid it (Study 1).
  • Grandiose narcissists were less sensitive to criticism and sought feedback, while covert narcissists were highly sensitive to criticism and avoided feedback (Study 2).

Interpretation: Grandiose narcissists ask for feedback but are not affected by any received criticism, while covert narcissists may shy away from asking for feedback as they are more sensitive to it.

Research by Czarna & Wróbel (2014) showed that those with high narcissism are less likely to “catch the emotions” of others. Also, their self-awareness about emotions and behaviors was generally low.

So, how can you tell if you or someone you know is a hypersensitive covert narcissist posing as a sensitive introvert? Take the test:

Take The Covert Narcissist Test-Pin2

Covert Narcissist Test: Finding The “Hidden” Narcissist

Here are 23 statements from the Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale (MCNS). Read each statement and rate your answer as 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Then click the Calculate button to get your total score.

Remember, this is a simplified quiz and not a professional diagnostic tool.

Rating Scale:

  • 1 = strongly disagree, very uncharacteristic or untrue.
  • 2 = uncharacteristic.
  • 3 = neutral.
  • 4 = characteristic.
  • 5 = very characteristic or true, strongly agree.
Covert Narcissist Test

Covert Narcissist Test

Please rate each statement based on how well it applies to you:

No.MCNS StatementsYour Rating
1I can become entirely absorbed in thinking about my personal affairs, my health, my cares or my relations to others.1 2 3 4 5
2My feelings are easily hurt by ridicule or the slighting remarks of others.1 2 3 4 5
3When I enter a room, I often become self-conscious and feel that the eyes of others are upon me.1 2 3 4 5
4I dislike sharing the credit of an achievement with others.1 2 3 4 5
5I feel that I have enough on my hand without worrying about other people’s troubles.1 2 3 4 5
6I feel that I am temperamentally different from most people.1 2 3 4 5
7I often interpret the remarks of others in a personal way.1 2 3 4 5
8I easily become wrapped up in my own interests and forget the existence of others.1 2 3 4 5
9I dislike being with a group unless I know that I am appreciated by at least one of those present.1 2 3 4 5
10I am secretly “put out” or annoyed when other people come to me with their troubles, asking me for their time and sympathy.1 2 3 4 5
11I am jealous of good-looking people.1 2 3 4 5
12I tend to feel humiliated when criticized.1 2 3 4 5
13I wonder why other people aren’t more appreciative of my good qualities.1 2 3 4 5
14I tend to see other people as being either great or terrible.1 2 3 4 5
15I sometimes have fantasies about being violent without knowing why.1 2 3 4 5
16I am especially sensitive to success and failure.1 2 3 4 5
17I have problems that nobody else seems to understand.1 2 3 4 5
18I try to avoid rejection at all costs.1 2 3 4 5
19My secret thoughts, feelings, and actions would horrify some of my friends.1 2 3 4 5
20I tend to become involved in relationships in which I alternately adore and despise the other person.1 2 3 4 5
21Even when I am in a group of friends, I often feel very alone and uneasy.1 2 3 4 5
22I resent others who have what I lack.1 2 3 4 5
23Defeat or disappointment usually shame or anger me, but I try not to show it.1 2 3 4 5

Interpreting Your MCNS Score

Most people score in the mid-to-upper 60s, indicating an average level of covert narcissism.

  • A score below 40 indicates a very low level of covert narcissism.
  • A score of 82 or higher indicates a high degree of covert narcissism.
  • A score above 97 suggests a genuine covert narcissist who might need help from a mental health expert.

Please keep in mind that the test above is still a simplified quiz, not a professional diagnostic tool.

Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale (MCNS)

The 23-item “Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale” (MCNS) — also known as the “Extended Version of The Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale” — was proposed by Cheek, Hendin, & Wink in 2013 (Google Scholar).

They found that high scorers on the MCNS scale are more likely to:

  • show entitlement, shame, and neuroticism, as well as
  • show lower levels of self-esteem, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

In contrast, maladaptive overt narcissism was not related to shame, self-esteem, or neuroticism, even though they felt as much entitled as the covert ones.

Two Faces of Narcissism — Overt & Covert

The 1990s saw the psychologist Paul Wink analyze various narcissism scales to identify two distinct types of narcissism:

  1. Grandiosity-Exhibitionism — Now called Overt or Grandiose narcissists
  2. Vulnerability-Sensitivity — Now called Covert or Vulnerable narcissists

The main differences lie in their external manifestations:

  • Overt narcissists: more extroverted, aggressive, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, and hungrily covet admiration.
  • Covert narcissists: more introverted, hypersensitive, defensive, anxious, and vulnerable (to feelings of neglect or belittlement).

Both types feel entitled and arrogant and tend to put their own needs ahead of others.


  1. What are some weird things that covert narcissists do?

    Five odd behaviors of a covert narcissist:

    1. Fishing for compliments. Covert narcissists often downplay their skills or talents, or pretend to be naive or novice, to get attention and approval from others.

    2. Passive-aggressive behavior. They can become passive-aggressive when hurt or betrayed, resorting to tactics like backhanded compliments or silent treatment.

    3. Ruining your happiness. They will intentionally ruin your joyful mood or peaceful moments. Like starting an argument or making a scornful comment when you’re happy.

    4. Gaslighting. They will often create a confusing situation, then deny their hand in it. The purpose is to make you question yourself, whether you saw or remembered the right thing.

    5. Envious & resentful. They can become bitter or full of envy when someone else is the center of attention, and will often try many tricks to get the focus back on them.

  2. Are all covert narcissists shy?

    No, not all covert narcissists are shy. Most covert narcissists tend to project an introverted or shy nature, some may be more outgoing or even “crowd-pleasing” in certain situations.

    The “covert” element in covert narcissism indicates that their narcissistic behaviors are often not immediately obvious to others. They may still try to gain attention and admiration by portraying themselves as selfless or humble (“humblebragging”).

  3. Are covert narcissists happy people?

    It is impossible to generalize whether covert narcissists are happy or not.

    Some covert narcissists could seem content on the outside, but they might be feeling empty, unsatisfied, or anxious inside. They often harbor low self-worth, insecurities about their shortcomings or “being average,” and a deep-seated fear of rejection or failure, all of which could make them feel less happy.

  4. What are covert narcissists afraid of?

    Five things covert narcissists may be afraid of are:

    1. Fear of rejection: Covert narcissists may fear rejection or abandonment, and may go to great lengths to avoid situations where they feel vulnerable or exposed.

    2. Fear of failure: They may struggle with feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, and may fear that they will fail to meet their own or others’ expectations.

    3. Fear of vulnerability: Covert narcissists may be afraid of showing vulnerability or weakness, and may use their narcissistic tendencies as a way to protect themselves from perceived threats.

    4. Fear of losing control: They often have a strong need for control, and may fear losing control over situations or relationships.

    5. Fear of being exposed: They may fear that others will discover their true nature or motivations, and may go to great lengths to maintain their image or reputation.

Do you know about high-functioning psychopaths, who hide among us but do not show violent tendencies except when under extreme pressure?

Final Words

Then why do they try to conceal themselves?

With so much social media noise over narcissism being a highly toxic trait, covert narcissists might pose as sensitive introverts to gain sympathy while creating confusion and misidentification.

The MCNS test is only a helpful tool to get a clearer picture of a test-taker’s personality.

N.B.: You cannot diagnose someone as having NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), even if that person scores high on a certain test. Proper diagnosis and treatment require a consultation with a mental health therapist.

√ Also Read: How To Spot The (Fragile, Not-So-Dark) Vulnerable Narcissist

√ Please spread the word if you found this helpful.

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