Are people inherently good or evil? What makes someone evil, and what makes them good? These are questions humanity has grappled with for more than thousands of years, from the philosophers of Ancient Greece, up until today. Humans have always wondered about matters of morality and virtue.
While it can be comforting to believe that all of us are good deep down inside and that we shouldn’t define ourselves based on our worst mistakes, there’s no denying that there are really some people out there who seem beyond redemption. An evil person is vile, immoral, and abusive. They don’t seem to have a conscience, and feel no empathy or remorse for their wrongdoings. This is the kind of person you’d never want to cross paths with.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways to figure out if you’re dealing with an evil person, so be sure to watch out for these 7 telltale signs:
1. They’re Blameless
An evil person will never see themselves in a negative light. When something goes wrong, they never want to be held accountable for what happened. Instead, they will try to shift the blame on everyone else and let them take the fall for it. They can never take responsibility for their actions, because in their eyes, they can do no wrong. They’re unwilling to receive criticism, and instead, play the victim to gain your sympathy and rope you into doing favors for them out of pity – a common manipulation tactic evil people use to take advantage of others (de Vries, 2014).
2. They’re Remorseless
No matter how much you call them out on it, an evil person will never feel sorry for what they’ve done. They may apologize when they’ve upset you, but it’s likely to be insincere or with an ulterior motive in mind. Because in reality, people like these don’t feel bad for the pain they cause others. They have no empathy for what you’re going through, because they only care about themselves. If they didn’t need anything from you, they probably wouldn’t even give you another thought. They have negative intentions behind their actions and may be deliberately trying to hurt you.
3. They’re Manipulative
Something you should always look out for in an evil person is their lack of honesty and integrity. While they may seem warm and friendly at first, they’re just using their charms to manipulate you into doing their bidding and giving in to their demands. They lead you on with false promises they have no intention of keeping, and when the time comes, justify why they couldn’t with a slew of excuses meant to convince you that it was all for the better. They will take and take without ever giving back.
4. They’re Controlling
Evil people always want to be in control, so they seek to dominate others and exert power over them. They’re never considerate and never want to compromise. They want you to do exactly as they say without question, so they intimidate you into complying. Whether it’s through criticism, competition, sabotage, or humiliation, they’ll do anything to stay on top and feel superior over those around them.
5. They’re Dishonest
Pathological lying is another easy way to spot the evil in a person (Griffith, Baranoski, & Dike, 2005). Do they have a “bad habit” of constantly lying to you? Do you find them denying things you already know to be true? A few white lies from time to time may be forgivable, but when you start to wonder if anything this certain person is saying is even true, then there may be something more sinister going on. They may be lying or keeping things from you to keep you from getting upset, disagreeing with them, or leaving them. An evil person has no moral qualms with lying to get ahead or getting what they want. Some of them even lie just for the fun of it.
6. They’re Vindictive
Sadly, there are really some people out there who enjoy the misfortunes of others and take pleasure in their suffering. An evil person wants to see you down on your luck, so they can feel better about themselves. They prey on your insecurities and exploit your weaknesses, because it would kill them to see you succeed or outdo them in any way. Whether it’s through anger, resentment, sarcasm, criticism, or thinly-veiled judgment, they like to take their problems out on others and project their negative feelings on you (Muller, 2011).
7. Other People Warn You About Them
When others caution you against a certain person or warn you to stay away from them, then that’s a definite red flag. Even though we may want to give them the benefit of the doubt or believe that it’s all just a misunderstanding, there’s no denying the signs. Pay close attention to what other people have to say about that particular person, because chances are, what happened to them will happen to you, too, if you’re not careful.
Have you ever met someone who was abusive or inconsiderate to those around them? Do you know anyone who hurts other people (physically or emotionally) and exploits them for personal gain? If a particular person just popped into your mind at the mention of these signs, you might be in trouble.
While we’d all like to think that we’re a good judge of character who knows evil when they see it, it can be hard when we’re blinded by friendship, love, care, or respect for the person. No matter how evil they are or how much they hurt us, there will always be a part of us who believes they can be changed, who wants to salvage what glimpses of good we see in them.
But the sad truth is, an evil person won’t want you to save them, so you’re better off saving yourself.
- De Vries, M. F. K. (2014). Are You a Victim of the Victim Syndrome? Mindful Leadership Coaching, pp. 68-86. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
- Griffith, E. H., Baranoski, M., Dike, C. (2005). Pathological Lying Revisted. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry. 33 (3); 342-359.
- Muller, R. J. (2011). Failing Narcissistic Defenses Can Turn Love Toxic. The Humanistic Psychologist, 39 (4), 375-378.