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Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!
Reason 7: Feelings of Superiority
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist


Read the following to:
  • Recognize that some people are mean due to believing they are superior to others.
  • Learn that some of the reasons for feelings of superiority include birth privilege, achievements, moral beliefs.
Related articles by Dr. Frank:

Previous: Reason 6: Mental Disturbance


Next: Reason 8: Pleasure-seeking


Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 30 seconds

To help you determine why a person might be mean:
Reasons for Meanness Inventory

REASON 7: Feelings of Superiority

Feelings of superiority can lead to mean behavior that may not always be deliberate but can be very hurtful to others.

Superior by Birth. Different from a superiority complex that stems from low self-esteem, some people truly believe they are superior to others. Sometimes this is due to being taught from a young age that being born into privilege or money or with certain qualities makes them better than other people.

Some who believe this feel that they have an obligation to treat those lesser than them with respect. However, others may have disdain for those they perceive as less than them and treat them with a lack of understanding or compassion.

Superior by Achievement. Some people who have achieved success early in life and easily may also develop this attitude of superiority. Due to their success they are often treated as if they are better than others and they may come to believe that they deserve to be treated this way by everyone. Therefore, they may be rude and demanding.

Moral Superiority. Finally, some people have a sense of superiority because of their beliefs. These people believe in their right to behave in ways that might hurt other people because they are doing it for morally superior reasons.

For instance, they may have a sense of moral superiority such as people who believe that total honesty, no matter how hurtful, is being genuine. Or, people who believe they are always right so their opinion is more valid than others' opinions. Or, someone who rebels against the status quo or against being politically correct because they believe it is phony.

Next: Reason 8: Pleasure-seeking



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Dr. Monica Frank



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