Covert Narcissist Test: A Narcissist Or A Touchy Introvert?

— Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy.

Our world has genuine introverts and truly sensitive people. Many are both introverted and sensitive.

And here comes the problem: Experts say that many of those self-proclaimed sensitive introverts may be covert narcissists.

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

There are reasons why covert narcissists may be seen by others (and even themselves) as sensitive people. Let’s explore them first.

Covert Narcissism & The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

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

  1. Sensitivity to criticism: Both can get deeply shaken by criticism, although they may respond differently.
  2. Emotional intensity: Both may experience emotions intensely, although covert narcissists may use this to manipulate others, while HSPs may feel overwhelmed by their emotions.
  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, while HSPs do so to fulfill their innate tendency to pay attention to detail and strive for excellence.

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).

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

Covert Narcissist Test
How to spot a covert narcissist? (Photo by RODNAE Productions, Pexels)

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:

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.

Take The Covert narcissist test-FB

Two Faces of Narcissism — Overt & Covert

In the 1990s, psychologist Paul Wink analyzed various narcissism scales, which led him to identify two distinct types of narcissism:

  1. Grandiosity-Exhibitionism and
  2. Vulnerability-Sensitivity.

We usually call the former the “overt” or “grandiose” narcissists, and the latter the “covert” or “vulnerable” narcissists.

Both types share the common traits of conceit, arrogance, and the tendency to prioritize their own needs over others.

The main differences lie in their external manifestations:

  • The “overt” ones are more likely extroverted, aggressive, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, and hungrily need admiration.
  • The “covert” ones are more likely to be introverted, hypersensitive, defensive, anxious, and vulnerable (to feelings of neglect or belittlement).


  1. What weird things do covert narcissists do?

    Five weird behaviors of covert narcissists:
    1. Fishing for compliments: Covert narcissists may seek validation and attention by purposefully downplaying their skills or achievements to receive praise and reassurance.
    2. Passive-aggressive behavior: When feeling hurt, betrayed, or angry, covert narcissists may become passive-aggressive, using tactics such as backhanded compliments or giving silent treatment.
    3. Ruining your happiness: Covert narcissists may intentionally ruin happy or relaxing moments, such as starting an argument when someone is trying to sleep.
    4. Gaslighting: Covert narcissists may manipulate others by denying their own behavior or making the victim doubt their own perceptions and memory.
    5. Envious & resentful: Covert narcissists may become bitter or full of envy when someone else is the center of attention, often trying to redirect the focus back to themselves.

  2. Are all covert narcissists shy?

    No, not all covert narcissists are shy. While some covert narcissists may appear introverted or shy, others may be more outgoing or charismatic.

    The “covert” aspect of covert narcissism refers to the fact that their narcissistic tendencies are not immediately obvious to others. They may use various tactics to gain attention and admiration, such as portraying themselves as selfless or humble (“humblebragging”) rather than overtly displaying grandiosity or entitlement.

  3. Are covert narcissists happy people?

    It is simply impossible to generalize whether covert narcissists are happy or not. Even though some covert narcissists could seem content on the outside, they might be feeling empty, unsatisfied, or anxious.

    That said, covert narcissists often have low self-esteem and self-worth, insecurities about their inadequacies or “averageness,” a deep-seated fear of rejection or failure, all of which may make them feel less happier.

  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

Why do covert narcissists masquerade themselves?

Narcissists are generally aware that they are “narcissistic” and are more tolerant of others who behave narcissistically (W. Hart et al., 2018).

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 someone scores high on a certain test. For proper diagnosis and treatment, a consultation with a mental health therapist is a must.

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

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