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Negative Personality Traits

One of my frequent readers sent me an email the other day. He said, “Hey Ryan, what are negative personality traits that I should be cautious of when developing new relationships?” Well, I’m glad you asked that great question!

You might hear people described as hostile, high-maintenance, arrogant, or catty. These are all seen as bad attributes; that much we know.

But does gender really define a person’s negative personality traits? Or is it all just stereotypical thinking? Well, that’s what we set out to find in this article.

As a bonus, we’ll go over the main character flaws in the ambitious type A people and how they compare to types B, C, and D. Finally, we’ll take a look at some of the universally despised traits. So stick around!

Negative personality traits in men
Negative personality traits in men

Top 5 Negative Personality Traits in Men

—Negative personality traits

When it comes to personalities, it’s hard to make generalizations based on age, gender, or culture. We’re all our own people, after all!

Yet, psychological studies find that some traits are more common among men. Take anger, egocentricity, impulsivity, moral disengagement, and emotional dismissiveness, for instance.

Let’s dive deeper into the top five negative attributes common among men.

1. Outward Display of Anger

Interestingly, some studies point out that men and women experience anger just as often. That makes a ton of sense when you consider that anger is more of an emotion than a trait.

Still, the way people express this emotion makes all the difference. Social norms might imply that outward displays of aggression or hostility are masculine by nature. Meanwhile, women may opt for the inward expression of anger (the internalized kind).

In other words, men have higher levels of hostility than women. That’s why anger management issues are more of a concern for one gender than for the other.

For one, men were twice as likely to have an outburst in the workplace—verbal abuse and shouting never make you an office favorite!

So, you might think these overt displays of anger can sink a person’s career, romantic relationships, and platonic friendships down the drain. The surprising thing is that research indicates that workplaces don’t penalize men as much as women.

2. Moral Disengagement

Have you ever read about people harming other humans in unnecessarily cruel ways and thought: how could someone do anything like this? Well, the answer might just boil down to moral disengagement.

Moral disengagement refers to how a person could believe ethical codes don’t apply to them. So, they can carry on committing sinister deeds and even go as far as justifying them.

As it happens, it’s a more common personality trait (yes, it can be considered a trait) among the male population.

The worst part? Moral disengagement isn’t a distant concept that only applies to war or extreme situations—it can be just as relevant in our day-to-day lives. For instance, the trait indicates a higher inclination towards infidelity.

In fact, one study found that young men score higher on dark personality tendencies in romantic relationships. According to the study, moral disengagement is just how someone with dark personality traits can justify acts of cruelty towards their partner.

All in all, we can break down moral disengagement into the following behavioral patterns:

  • Moral justification (finding a loophole)
  • Diffusing responsibility or deflecting attention
  • Minimizing or denying the impact of one’s actions on others
  • Victim dehumanization

Usually, these behaviors come in this exact order to make up the four stages of moral disengagement.

3. Self-Centrism

Generally speaking, men score higher on tests that evaluate narcissistic personality attributes (“higher” here isn’t a positive thing). Plus, there’s also a similar gender gap in entitlement traits.

You might have heard about this before, but the novel finding was that self-centrism is accentuated by stress.

PBS reviewed a psychological study that found that self-centered behavior in men increases under stress. This can make other negative traits, like high egocentricity and low adaptive regulation, pop to the surface.

Women, on the other hand, were more likely to resort to self-other distinction mechanisms. As you might have guessed, this relates to higher empathy levels.

The PBS article also points out that hormonal differences between the genders can explain this difference in personality traits.

Without digging too much into the scientific jargon, women have higher oxytocin, which might be the thing pulling the strings of emotions like love and trust when the person is under stress.

Related: Law of polarity

4. Disinhibition

Just as the name implies, disinhibition is what makes a person unable to withhold inappropriate behaviors—it’s the lack of inhibitory signals if you will.

Recent research from the department of psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal shows that men have higher scores in disinhibition and self-related detachment parameters.

That said, it’s important to note that disinhibition is an umbrella term for the following traits:

  • Irresponsibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Risk-taking
  • Distractibility
  • Low rigid perfectionism

Although the scope of the research from the Université du Québec à Montréal was romantic relationships, disinhibition can affect other aspects of everyday life.

For instance, this blend of traits can be associated with negative behavioral patterns, such as disregard for others, frequent outbursts, misconduct, a need to defy authority, and even addiction!

Generally speaking, excitement seeking and low harm avoidance are also seen as disinhibition personality traits.

5. Dismissiveness

Dismissiveness on its own can be considered a negative personality trait. However, it can also pop up as an attachment style: the dismissive avoidant attachment style.

We get that it sounds like a complex psychological term, but the gist of it is that a person with this type of attachment style avoids displays of emotions. They might even show disdain for others who are open about their feelings.

Both men and women can show dismissive behaviors in romantic relationships. However, cultural differences play a major role in deciding which side exhibits the trait more intensely.

For instance, one research indicated that men in Argentina tend to show less dismissive traits towards romantic partners than those in Bangladesh. Yet, it’s a widely held notion that men, in general, are more dismissive than women.

Keep in mind that the unfavorable effects of this negative trait don’t just stop at romantic relationships.

Psychology experts believe that social norms along the lines of “boys don’t cry” keep the cycle running. This domestic cycle shapes even more avoidant men who bottle down their emotions and mimic their own dismissive fathers.

Negative personality traits in women
Negative personality traits in women

Top 5 Negative Personality Traits in Women

—Negative personality traits

Sure, women are less likely to display hostility when they’re angry, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other negative traits associated with femininity.

Meek, petty, neurotic, picky, and delusional are some of the traits that are often used to describe women.

Let’s take a closer look at each point from a psychological perspective.

1. Diffidence

Although arrogance is a negative trait, you don’t want to go all the way to the other end of the spectrum: meekness or diffidence.

Through meta-analysis, scientists found that women generally have lower self-esteem than men. However, the confidence gap isn’t as huge as you might expect when you’re looking at things on a global level.

Social media is one of the main contributors that nurtures this negative trait in young girls, but this trait was around even before social media became a thing.

Self-esteem doesn’t just lower the quality of life. The main concern here is that it can lead to mental health issues. Depression and eating disorders are two examples that spring to mind.

Plus, women with low self-assurance have lower expectations of what they can accomplish. This can cause them to shy away from taking risks. In a way, this trait strips people of control over their lives.

Related: How do I tell if he loves me?

2. Neuroticism

In psychological studies of the differences between the “Big Five” personality traits, women report higher scores on neuroticism parameters.

What’s that? Well, the term basically refers to a person’s disposition to experience negative thoughts and feelings, such as:

  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Self-consciousness
  • Emotional lability
  • Anger

So, women’s high neuroticism scores leave them more susceptible to all of these negative traits. The only exception to the rule is the expression of anger; men score higher in this aspect.

It’s also important to note that some facets of neuroticism aren’t necessarily problematic. However, they’re still associated with a lower quality of life. In fact, some studies point out that neuroticism is associated with a drop in work performance and romantic relationships.

Take self-consciousness, for instance. It isn’t a negative trait on its own, but it might be one of the reasons why women have low self-esteem in the first place.

Negative communication in couples
Negative communication in couples

3. Passive Aggression

Negative personality traits like “cattiness” and “pettiness” are associated with women.

Tracy Vaillancourt, a psychology professor at the University of Ottawa, took a look at these stereotypes. Lucky for us, she came up with some interesting findings.

Vaillancourt’s study reviewed how women react when a more attractive woman enters the room to gauge if competitive pettiness is indeed a negative trait among females.

The results? Well, 97% of the participants in the study showed signs of social aggression. That could also be interpreted as an attempt by women to “punish” peers who dress provocatively.

On the other hand, other studies indicate that conventionally attractive women are more likely to enjoy participating in competitive pettiness. They could also expect special treatment.

Either way, there’s some science behind the notion of female pettiness.

Pickiness in both men and things around them!
Pickiness in both men and things around them!

4. Pickiness

Yet another stereotypical negative trait associated with femininity is pickiness or being high-maintenance. Well, as it happens, there are also some studies that show that there’s some truth to this stereotype.

For one, a study from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia looked at the preferences and limits that men and women set on online dating sites.

The results showed that women were overall pickier while choosing their romantic partners—at least when it comes to education level.

Men, on the other hand, don’t have the same demands and only become picky after crossing the age of 40. By then, they get even pickier than women of their age.

However, this trait doesn’t just stop at educational preferences. Another study (coincidentally, also by QUT) found that women prioritized income in potential partners slightly more than men.

Related: Turn offs to know about

5. Schizotypy

Men and women are just as likely to get schizophrenia as a mental disorder, with differences in symptoms and age (women are more susceptible in their 20s and 30s).

Nevertheless, there are some schizotypal personality traits that are more common in women, including:

  • Ideas of reference (can lead to a rabbit hole of delusions)
  • Odd beliefs and magical thinking
  • Social anxiety

Having said that, we need to clarify that women are often associated with positive schizotypy.

In the right context, these won’t always be bad traits to have. Some studies even associate positive schizotypy with openness, flexibility, unconventional thinking, and fantasy-proneness.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to show traits of negative schizotypy. This type is linked to psychopathological functioning.

Related: How dating a narcissist changes you

Negative Traits in the Four Personality Types (A, B, C, and D)

—Negative personality traits: by type

From the Myers-Briggs Indicator to the DISC theory, there are different ways of assessing and categorizing personalities.

Even so, the “typing” method is one of the simplest personality designation methods there is. It sums up the entire range into four types: A, B, C, and D.

The theory traces back to the 1970s when two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman, and RH Rosenman, noted that the chairs in their clinic were getting worn out fairly quickly.

Soon, they realized their patients (people prone to cardiovascular diseases) were restless, impatient, and likely to wear out the upholstery faster than patients in other clinics. So, the cardiologists came up with the “type A” term to describe this tense personality.

Later on, psychologists extended the theory to include types B, C, and D.

Of course, some people criticize the theory as a whole since Friedman and Rosenman didn’t include any women in their study, which leaves the categories lacking representation. Others might include a fifth category (type X) to cover hard-to-classify personalities.

Nevertheless, the four main categories are still popular to this day. Each of those personality types has its highlights and flaws. Let’s take a closer look.

Type A

As we’ve covered, type A people are tense. They’re the driven go-getters of this world who don’t have the patience to wait; everything is time urgent for them. Even in conversation, they’ll pick up the pace and talk faster than anyone else in the room.

On the plus side, this also means that they’re the risk-takers and hard workers of the bunch. You won’t be surprised to find that they have a long list of career achievements to match their hard work.

That’s why people usually see a type A person as an inspirational figure.

That said, there are some not-so-admirable traits associated with this personality type. Here are a few to consider:

  • Impatience
  • Aggression (whether in hostility or pushing boundaries)
  • Stubbornness
  • Competitiveness

Type B

Type B people aren’t known for their achievements but are fun to be around.

Sure, they might not share the workaholic vibe of their type-A counterparts. However, they’re more of the “idea” people. They’re the self-confident dreamers who get along well with pretty much everyone they meet.

No wonder they’re represented as the “chill” personality in Friedman and Rosenman’s theory—they won’t be wearing out armrests due to anxiety or sitting on the edge of their seats out of anticipation anytime soon!

The flip side is that, despite their exuding charisma, type B people might show negative traits, such as:

  • Getting bored easily
  • Self-indulgence
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Over-socializing
  • Procrastination

Type C

So type A and type B people are counterparts and can get along fine and help each other grow under the right circumstances, but what about type C?

This category wasn’t initially in Freidman and Rosenman’s theory. However, personality type C’s main characteristic is being detail-oriented.

These people thrive on facts, logic, and precision. Emotions? Not so much.

Yet, they can be highly dependable at nearly anything that requires problem-solving and critical thinking. Overall, they’re great to have around during emergencies, thanks to their ‘no-nonsense’ approach.

Nothing is perfect, though. You can still expect to spot some negative traits in type C people. Most of those character flaws revolve around their emotionally dry behavior, including:

  • Obsession with stability
  • Skepticism
  • Detachment
  • Seeking control

Type D

It’s easy to remember what type D is all about. Just associate the ‘D’ in the name with ‘distressed’ or ‘depressed.’

Type D people are the most in touch with their emotional side out of all four categories. They’re also often referred to as the existential type since they tend to be reflective of all aspects of life.

So, this could be that one deep friend in your circle. While they might not be the happiest, they definitely have something to give.

After all, type D people are sincere, fair, and truly caring, even if they’re usually a tad bit shy. They can easily be the peacemaker or the observer in the group!

As you might have guessed, the category is associated with many negative traits that relate to their sensitive nature. For instance, a type D person might be:

  • Prone to taking things as a personal attack
  • Existential
  • Isolated
  • Resistant to change

The 7 Worst Personality Traits

—The worst negative personality traits

All of us, regardless of age, gender, or cultural background, have some undesirable behavioral patterns that we need to kick.

That said, some traits are worse than others—or at least, that’s what we think!

Here’s a list of some of the most off-putting attributes that can ruin someone’s personality and hurt those around them:

1. Close-Mindedness

Have you ever tried having a discussion with someone who won’t just put their ego aside and actually hear what you’re trying to say? Not fun.

Plus, maintaining an open mind can help people grow and keep disagreements civil. So why not give it a shot?

This trait isn’t all bad, though. Some people find that a touch of close-mindedness is critical to perseverance!

2. Entitlement

There’s a difference between being assertive and being entitled.

It all boils down to whether the person is willing to put in the effort to deserve the “good outcome” they’re waiting for and how they’ll react if they don’t get it right away.

3. Dishonesty

People lie for all sorts of reasons: money, fear, attention-seeking, and even to avoid embarrassment. The issue is that dishonesty drills holes into any relationship, eventually sinking it.

Our advice? Try to find out when people are lying (we say try because you’ll never be 100% certain). Then, understand their motives and see if you can circumvent the trait before you decide to cut ties with the person altogether.

4. Callousness

Not all people are good at expressing emotions, and that’s okay. The problems begin with a person takes on callous traits, such as:

  • Lack of empathy
  • Remorselessness
  • Disregard for others’ feelings

Sooner or later, these traits will drive people away and leave the callous person isolated.

5. Greed

Aside from being a universally despised trait that leaves behind a trail of victims, greed can actually harm the greedy person himself.

How so? Well, it often drags its sisters (stress, recklessness, and exhaustion) along.

6. Indecisiveness

When we say indecisiveness, we don’t just mean the casual “I don’t know what to choose” moment you get every now and then when you pick up a menu somewhere.

Instead, we’re referring to the constant cycle of doubt that keeps people from progressing in life. After all, indecisiveness can point to deeper issues like ADHD or depression.

7. Judgmentalness

If someone goes overboard with judgemental traits, odds are, people will feel uncomfortable and disrespected around them.

Just keep in mind that this is drastically different from the “judging” personality trait you’ll come across in the Briggs Myers’ personality test.

Final Thoughts—Negative Personality Traits

Don’t be alarmed if you notice some of these attributes in someone you love or yourself; we all have dysfunctions.

The key here is being able to recognize when a trait is becoming too destructive and learning to avoid it. Of course, doing all that requires understanding where the attribute came from in the first place!

So, what do you think is the most frustrating trait of them all? Are there any negative personality traits that you don’t mind putting up with?


Miettunen, J. and Jääskeläinen, E. (2010) Sex differences in Wisconsin schizotypy scales–a meta-analysis, Schizophrenia bulletin. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: NIH.gov (Accessed: February 28, 2023).

Vogel, K. (2022) Why am I so indecisive? 10 methods to help you make decisions, Psych Central. Psych Central. Available at: PsychCentral (Accessed: February 28, 2023).

[McLeod], [S. (1970) [type A personality], Type A and Type B Personality Theory – Simply Psychology. Available at: SimplyPsychology (Accessed: February 28, 2023).

BN;, K.K.C.H.J.S.S.C.J.B. (no date) Gender differences in self-esteem: A meta-analysis, Psychological bulletin. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: NIH.gov (Accessed: February 28, 2023).

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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