Why very nice people could be less popular in society?

Are you nice, but people don't appreciate this?


K. E. Adamus

10 months ago | 3 min read

Are you a nice person, yet not many people like you? I did a short research on what could be a reason behind this phenomenon. How some psychological theories can enlight us? Please read further to find out.

Social Exchange Theory on being nice

Social Exchange theory was developed by George Homans in the 1950s.

According to Social Exchange Theory, life in society is a game where people exchange, for example, social support, companionship, and other resources. If someone is more of a giver and receives less or not at all, it causes an unacceptable imbalance.

This lack of harmony can lead the giver to feel used or resentful and the receiver to feel entitled or dependent, and as a result, it is not a healthy relationship.

This can, in turn, affect the relationship and the popularity of the ‘nice person.’

Self-Determination Theory on being nice

Self-Determination theory was developed by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Self-Determination Theory states that people want autonomy, relatedness, and competence.

Autonomy here means that a person wants to control his own life and all important decisions affecting his life. Relatedness means that people need social connections and interactions. Competence refers to the need to be a master in some actions or areas of expertise.

Being too nice is against these needs: if someone only gives, it affects his autonomy because it is seen as a lack of assertiveness. Nice people are also seen as less competent, as they receive less. In the case of relatedness, niceness is seen as a lack of authenticity.

No one likes people-pleasers, apparently.

Self-Verification Theory on being nice

The Self-Verification Theory was developed by William Swann in the 1980s and 1990s.

Self-Verification Theory states that people want others to be seen consistently according to their self-concept, to the point where they will ensure that others confirm their stable self-views.

If a person is too nice, they are seen as lacking authenticity and not being true to themselves and others. We can simplify this — too nice people seem to be suspicious and false creatures, even if their intentions are good. This gives different feedback from social interactions to ‘nice persons.’

Additionally, people are more likely to identify with and form relationships with others who share similar self-concepts.

Social Comparison Theory on being nice

Social Comparison theory was developed by Leon Festinger in the 1950s.

According to this theory, people like to compare themselves to others to determine how well they are doing. This comparison data is used to judge their abilities and potential for success.

People prefer to compare themselves to others perceived as less nice and more assertive and use this information to boost their self-esteem. Also, in society, it is preferable to associate with others who are similar.

In this way, ‘very nice’ people are outside of this comparison chain, which can make them less popular.

Self-Evaluation Maintenance Model on being nice

Self-Evaluation Maintenance Model (SEMM) theory, created by Abraham Tesser in 1988, suggests that people like to compare themselves to others to maintain their self-esteem.

According to SEMM, people may be less likely to form close relationships with someone who is seen as too nice, as they may be seen as a threat to their self-esteem.

Social Identity Theory on being nice

Another theory, the Social Identity Theory, suggests that people prefer to form groups based on shared characteristics and that people within a group tend to positively perceive each other.

According to this theory, if a person is seen as too nice, they may not fit into any specific group and may be less popular.

Social Learning Theory on being nice

According to Social Learning Theory, created by Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s and the 1980s, people learn to behave in specific ways based on the rewards and punishments they receive.

Suppose a person is too nice and is not receiving any rewards or positive reinforcement for their behavior. In that case, they may learn that being nice is not beneficial for them, which can affect their popularity.

Is being a nice person a bad thing in such a case?

Of course not. Being nice can have many benefits for individuals and society as a whole. It can lead to better mental and physical health, increased life satisfaction, and improved social relationships. People who are more altruistic and empathetic tend to have better mental health and lower stress levels.

Organizations that promote a culture of kindness tend to have more engaged and productive employees and are more successful in the long run. It’s important to note that being nice can be interpreted differently, and being too nice can be seen as a lack of assertiveness or authenticity which can negatively affect popularity, as discussed earlier.

However, being kind and respectful to others and being true to oneself is a good balance that can lead to positive outcomes.


Created by

K. E. Adamus

Big fan of journaling. It really can improve life's quality!







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