Bending over Backwards Is for Gymnasts – Psychtests’ Study Reveals Why Being Too Nice Is a Disadvantage

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New research by indicates that people who are too nice find it more difficult to be assertive, which can result in resentment and a buildup of frustration.

Consistently going out of your way to be nice to others at the expense of your own needs does more harm than good.

Being too nice and not asserting your needs may be noble but it’s detrimental to your sense of self.

When you consistently go out of your way to be nice to others, putting aside your own needs, you do yourself and others more harm than good.

After school specials always preached the importance of being nice. Even lovable Mr. Rogers entreated viewers to “please,” be his “neighbor.” But what would Mr. Rogers do if the people who lived next door were partying into the wee hours of the morning or left their dog outside, barking endlessly? Chances are that he would be a nice person and accommodate them. There is also a good chance, according to researchers at PsychTests, that his continuously acquiescing nature will exacerbate the issue and, in fact, potentially make him unhappy.

Researchers at PsychTests assessed 6,717 people using their Assertiveness Test, and then divided them into three groups:

  •     Group 1: Those who are comfortable asserting themselves even if it means saying “no” to others. They are not necessarily mean, but won’t go out of their way to accommodate people if doing so impinges on their own needs.
  •     Group 2: Those who are nice, accommodating, and usually non-confrontational, but who occasionally assert themselves.
  •     Group 3: Those who are too nice, avoid confrontation, and who bend over backwards to accommodate other people.

According to PsychTests data, of those who are too nice,

  •     91% avoid dealing with confrontation (64% for moderately assertive people, 23% for highly assertive people).
  •     70% feel that others take advantage of them (40% for moderately assertive people, 14% for highly assertive people).
  •     76% lack self-confidence (56% for moderately assertive people, 25% for highly assertive people).
  •     92% replay arguments in their head, wishing they had the courage to express what they really wanted to say (74% for moderately assertive people, 37% for highly assertive people).
  •     63% are actually so humble, they find it difficult to accept compliments (33% for moderately assertive people, 13% for highly assertive people).
  •     87% recognize that they are not as assertive as other people (56% for moderately assertive people, 17% for highly assertive people).
  •     59% have been told by others that they need to be more assertive (26% for moderately assertive people, 9% for highly assertive people).
  •     Only 18% speak openly about their feelings (33% for moderately assertive people, 63% for highly assertive people).

And that’s not all that researchers at PsychTests discovered.

“Of those who are too nice, at least 64% were women,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests.

“The women in our sample were also more likely than men to put other people’s needs ahead of their own, and to have a little more difficulty saying ‘no’ to requests made of them. What holds a lot of nice people back from asserting themselves, whether women or men, is the fear of the social repercussions: they don’t want to come off as being mean or cruel. But when you consistently go out of your way to be nice to others, even if it means putting aside your own needs, you do yourself and others more harm than good.”

“When you’re always the one giving to others they will start to expect it,” points out Dr. Jerabek. “They may even become dependent on you to always be there in times of need. Sometimes, you have to put your foot down for their own good. It’s not that we’re condoning selfishness or cruelty; rather, we are emphasizing the importance of standing up for yourself and making sure that your needs are being met as well. You can still be nice while being firm.”

Researchers at PsychTests offer the following tips on how to say “no” to others in a kind yet firm manner:

  •     Remember, you don’t have to justify why you are saying “no,” but if you feel compelled to do so, explain your reason for declining a request in simple terms.
  •     Don’t feel like you need to apologize. Remind yourself that the decision to do something for this person or not is entirely up to you.
  •     Use nonverbal assertiveness to underline the "no". Make sure that your voice is firm and direct. Look into the person’s eyes as you refuse. Shake your head "no" as you say it.
  •     If you are saying "no" to someone whom you would help under different circumstances, use an empathic response to ease the rejection. “I understand your predicament, but at the moment I don’t have the resources/time to effectively deal with your request, and that wouldn’t be fair to you or me.”

Want to assess your level of assertiveness? Go to

Professional users of this assessment (therapists, life coaches and counselors) can request a free demo of this or any other tests from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery:

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook:

About is a subsidiary of PsychTests AIM Inc. is a site that creates an interactive venue for self-exploration with a healthy dose of fun. The site offers a full range of professional-quality, scientifically validated psychological assessments that empower people to grow and reach their real potential through insightful feedback and detailed, custom-tailored analysis.

PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
PsychTests AIM Inc.
+1 514-745-3189 Ext: 112
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