9 Characteristics of a Self-righteous Person


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Self-righteousness is a pervasive trait that, while often subtle, can have profound implications on an individual's relationships and personal growth. 

It's characterized by an inflated sense of moral superiority, leading to arrogance and a critical outlook towards others. 

In this article titled we will explore these traits in detail. Drawing on various sources, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of self-righteous behavior, its manifestations, and the potential impact it can have on interpersonal dynamics. 

This exploration will shed light on this complex trait and offer insights into recognizing and navigating self-righteous tendencies.

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1). Lack of Community Orientation

Individuals with a self-righteous demeanor often exhibit a striking lack of community orientation.

They walk their path, whether religious or life in general, predominantly as a solitary endeavor rather than a collective journey.

This isolationist tendency means they are not inclined to collaborate or cooperate with others, preferring instead to function independently. 

Their perspective often disregards the value of shared experiences, communal wisdom, and mutual support that can be found within a community setting. 

This lack of community orientation is a hallmark characteristic of self-righteous individuals, setting them apart from those who embrace a more collective approach to life and spirituality. 

2). Belief in their Rightness

One of the most telling traits of self-righteous individuals is their unwavering belief in their correctness. They are often so convinced of their rightness that they place their personal feelings above objective facts. 

Even when presented with clear evidence or logical arguments that contradict their viewpoints, they tend to stick to their beliefs. 

This tendency can go beyond mere confidence or assertiveness; it can lead to a refusal to admit mistakes or learn from others.

Their belief system is not easily swayed by external influences, making them resistant to change and less likely to consider alternate perspectives. 

The conviction in their rightness enables them to dismiss any disagreement or criticism, further entrenching them in their self-righteous attitudes. 

3). Comparative Mindset

A defining characteristic of self-righteous individuals is their comparative mindset. They constantly measure themselves against others, using such comparisons as a benchmark for their worth or righteousness. 

This comparison isn't merely observational; it forms the foundation of their self-justification and validation. They derive a sense of superiority from outperforming others and often downplay or disregard the achievements of those around them. 

This comparative mindset fuels their self-righteous attitude, leading them to believe they are more virtuous or successful than others.

However, this constant need for comparison can create an unhealthy cycle of competitiveness and self-validation, undermining their capacity for empathy and genuine connections with others. 

4). Vainglorious

People who are identified as self-righteous are often negatively perceived as being vainglorious and self-deceiving. 

Vainglorious individuals have an inflated sense of their importance, achievements, or abilities and seek excessive admiration and attention. This trait, when combined with self-righteousness, creates a potent mix of arrogance and denial. 

Such individuals can become so absorbed in their self-created image of superiority that they deceive themselves into disregarding their flaws and shortcomings. 

This self-deception allows them to maintain their inflated self-image and continue their pattern of self-aggrandizement, further reinforcing their self-righteous behavior. 

This cycle of vanity and self-deception can hinder personal growth and create barriers in their relationships with others. 

5). Craving for Approval

Self-righteous individuals often have a strong craving for approval and recognition from others.

This desire is not just about receiving casual compliments or acknowledgments; it's an intrinsic part of their self-worth and self-image.

They thrive on the praises and admiration of others, using it as a means to validate their beliefs and actions. This craving for approval can be so intense that it becomes a primary motivation in their behaviors, decisions, and interactions.

They may go to great lengths to impress others, even to the point of compromising their values or authenticity.

However, this constant need for external validation can lead to a dependency on others' opinions, making them vulnerable to criticism and potentially hindering their ability to develop a secure and independent sense of self. 

6). Holier-than-thou Attitude

A self-righteous person often carries a "holier-than-thou" attitude, a mindset that sets them on a pedestal above others. 

They view themselves as infallible, believing they can do no wrong, and this belief fuels their sense of superiority. This attitude manifests itself in their interactions with others, where they frequently adopt the role of a judge, scrutinizing and passing judgment on others' actions and behaviors.

They use their self-proclaimed moral high ground to criticize or belittle those who don't align with their standards or viewpoints.

This "holier-than-thou" attitude not only creates a barrier between them and others but also blinds them to their shortcomings and areas for growth. 

It fosters a divisive environment, making it difficult for them to form meaningful and empathetic relationships.

7). Superiority Complex

Self-righteous individuals often exhibit a superiority complex, a psychological defense mechanism that compensates for an underlying inferiority complex.

They operate under the belief that they are always right and that their way of doing things is the only correct way. This mindset fosters a sense of superiority, making them feel above others in their thoughts and actions.

They view others through a lens of condescension, dismissing differing perspectives and values as wrong or inferior. 

This perceived superiority can lead to arrogance and a lack of empathy for others, creating a divide in interpersonal relationships.

It also hinders personal growth, as they become closed off to new ideas and resistant to constructive criticism. 

8). Outward Focus

People with self-righteous tendencies often direct their focus outward, examining and critiquing the behavior of others rather than introspecting on their actions and motivations. 

They tend to judge righteousness based on external appearances and actions, ignoring the importance of inner character and integrity.

In their pursuit of appearing 'righteous', they might perform acts designed to draw attention and admiration from others, rather than stemming from genuine good intentions or moral conviction. 

This outward focus can lead to a distorted perception of righteousness, where it becomes more about public perception than personal morality. 

Moreover, it prevents them from recognizing and addressing their flaws, limiting their personal growth and understanding of true righteousness.

9). Arrogance

From both theological and secular perspectives, self-righteous individuals often harbor a sense of moral superiority, believing that their beliefs, actions, or values are inherently better than those of their peers. 

This inflated sense of righteousness can lead to arrogance, a trait characterized by an exaggerated sense of one's worth or abilities.

They might not only believe they are always right but also feel the need to constantly affirm this perceived superiority through boasting or belittling others.

This arrogance can be off-putting to others, creating social barriers and fostering resentment. Moreover, it can hinder personal growth as it breeds a closed-mindedness that resists differing perspectives and constructive criticism.

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Why It's Important to Understand What Self-Righteousness Is

Self-righteousness is a state of being smugly moralistic, often accompanied by an inflated sense of one's own virtue and righteousness, somewhat similar to narcissistic altruism

Understanding this concept is crucial for several reasons.

It helps us spot self-righteous pride in ourselves and others, which can be destructive to relationships and communities.

For instance, a self-righteous teenager may feel superior to their peers, leading to social isolation. Similarly, a self-righteous community can alienate those who don't conform to their rigid standards, creating division and tension.

Additionally, recognizing self-righteousness allows us to guard against becoming self-righteous freeloaders – individuals who exploit others' goodwill without acknowledging their own shortcomings.

This peculiar danger is particularly prevalent in environments where free forgiveness is extended without any expectation of personal growth or change.

Understanding self-righteousness also helps us navigate interactions with thin-skinned folks, who might react defensively to criticism or perceived slights due to their self-righteous stance.

It's important to approach such individuals with empathy and tact, acknowledging their feelings while gently challenging their views.

Moreover, recognizing the limits of self-righteousness can protect us from the trap of believing we are above reproach.

No matter how virtuous we may appear, we all have our limitations and weaknesses. Being aware of this fact can keep us grounded, promote humility, and foster a more inclusive and understanding environment.

Understanding self-righteousness can help us identify and address the possibly evil heart that often underlies this attitude. 


Self-righteousness is a complex trait that often manifests in an inflated sense of superiority, an outward focus on the behavior of others, and an arrogance stemming from a perceived moral high ground.

These characteristics not only create a divide in interpersonal relationships but also hinder personal growth and understanding. 

It's crucial to recognize these tendencies and work towards fostering empathy, open-mindedness, and humility, which are key to genuine righteousness and meaningful interactions

Self-righteousness, when unchecked, can lead to a distorted perception of oneself and others, underlining the importance of introspection and self-improvement in our journey toward becoming better individuals.

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Comments 1

Overcomers on Jan 17th, 2024

Thank you for sharing on this topic about self righteousness. It describes me perfectly. Now I have starting point to begin my journey to humility and compassion.

Thank you for sharing on this topic about self righteousness. It describes me perfectly. Now I have starting point to begin my journey to humility and compassion.
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July 13th, 2024

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