Superficial Personality Traits (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will discuss Superficial Personality Traits. We will do that by defining superficial and superficial personality. We will then discuss their signs and traits in detail.

Superficial Personality Traits

A superficial person has the following traits and exhibits the stated behaviors:

  • They are materialistic.
  • They lack opinions.
  • They are concerned about their physical appearance.
  • Their relationships are one-sided.
  • They lack intellectual depth.
  • They do not say what they mean.
  • They do not contribute their part/role.
  • They are judgmental.
  • They frequently engage in gossiping.
  • They like to be in the limelight

What does Superficial mean?

The dictionary defines superficial as ‘’Existing or occurring at or on the surface‘ or ‘appearing to be true or real only until examined more closely’. The antonyms of superficial include genuine and authentic. So, if we apply the same concept to personality, superficial personality refers to someone who is not genuine or is inauthentic. In other words, a person with superficial personality traits lacks depth or is shallow.

In terms of description, a superficial person has a focus on outward appearances and disregards the internal depth of people for things. They prioritize taking care of their own self and are not concerned about others in their life. In relationships, they do not fulfill the role of a reliable friend or a genuine lover. Such people are not attentive to the needs and emotions of others and are more focused on receiving rather than giving.

Oscar Wilde eloquently describes the thought process of a superficial person in his book ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. He says:

“People say sometimes that Beauty is superficial. That may be so. But at least it is not so superficial as Thought is. To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Signs of a Superficial Person

There are different signs by which we can identify a superficial person. They possess the following traits:

They are materialistic.

This is an important giveaway for a superficial person. Their main focus is on buying expensive things in the hopes that it will increase their value among others. They chase power and fame in order to be recognized and appreciated by people. However, these lack real depth. A superficial person is dependent on acquiring and valuing materialistic goods. Accordingly, they lack valuing the actual experiences and their company.

It is possible that they focus on materialistic goods as it gives them a chance to get immediate gratification and does not require them to invest time and effort. On the contrary, relationships are only meaningful when a person prioritizes their energy, concern, and effort into it and wait for it to give them gratification in the long run. Superficial people cannot handle doing this.

They need to understand that:

If we get our self-esteem from superficial places, from our popularity, appearance, business success, financial situation, health, any of these, we will be disappointed, because no one can guarantee that we’ll have them tomorrow. Kathy Ireland

They lack opinions.

A superficial person appears to lack real opinions and views. They don’t have a set of principles by which they abide by or standby strongly. Due to this, they can be easily persuaded, convinced, and directed to think in another way. They change their sides too quickly as soon as an opportunity arises. Accordingly, they don’t have any causes in which they strongly believe in since their major focus is on themselves. Research indicates that such people are not truly concerned about their environment.

They are concerned about their physical appearance.

People with superficial personality traits are concerned about how they appear to others. They spend a lot of time and energy making themself look attractive and appealing to others. They do not really focus on their inner self rather, their priority is to beautify their external shell. They seek similar external attractive qualities in others and evaluate people based on whether they are physically appealing. In short, they do not look inside a person and notice their feelings, behaviors, thoughts. And they don’t spend time trying to know another person.

Their relationship is one-sided.

In relationships, people with superficial personality traits focus on themselves rather than prioritizing what their partner wants, needs, or feels. Instead of a balanced relationship where there is reciprocity and give-and-take, superficial relationships are centered around one person. They appear to be selfish and focus on making friends and connections only if they see benefits for themself in them. They do not contribute back to the relationship.

They lack intellectual depth.

Superficial people have a broad knowledge of various subjects and they are well-informed. However, their knowledge may be factual and lack depth. It’s not that they have a low IQ, it’s just that they do not apply the knowledge they have acquired, practically. We can say that they lack emotional intelligence especially since they are unconcerned about the emotions of others and don’t use that information to make their relationships meaningful. They also don’t have certain social skills like gratitude, grace, manners, etc. similarly, they do not go beyond the surface when analyzing someone in order to understand them. So, when they talk to others, their conversation shows that it is only a superficial and surface-level discussion.

They do not say what they mean.

A person with superficial personality traits may make shallow remarks either directly or indirectly. Even in cases, they do comment in a positive way, they actually don’t mean it as their focus is on noticing the physical appearance of another person and not on trying to understand them. It is apparent when their emotional display is not in line with their thoughts. Furthermore, they can backstab or go against people as soon as an opportunity arises.

“Their plastic smiles were so deeply ingrained it would probably take an elite demolition team to remove them.’Mike Hockney, The Millionaires’ Death Club

They do not contribute their part/role.

Usually, whenever there is a group activity or a social cause, people get together and contribute their part in making something work. In cases of superficial people, this is different as they are more focused on themselves rather than others. Accordingly, they are unresponsive to social causes and helping out others. They are frequently found to say ‘sorry, I can’t’. In other words, they have a pet excuse for situations in which they don’t have a personal benefit.

They are judgmental.

When evaluating or analyzing others, people with superficial personality traits adopt a very critical approach. They disregard the beliefs of people that are different from them. Furthermore, their ability to analyze and understand the feelings and thoughts of others is usually incorrect. They don’t understand that:

“When we generalize and judge people quickly without taking ample time, we’ve chosen a shortcut. It’s superficial of us, and a lack of wisdom.”Assegid Habtewold

When someone else does not understand their perspective, they get distressed and develop negative opinions about them without any authentic evidence. They may use the defense mechanism of projection. For example, if they are feeling jealous of someone, instead of admitting it, they would say that the other person is actually jealous of them. Similarly, they might make up negative rumors about them.

They frequently engage in gossiping.

In conversations with others, superficial people contribute by gossiping about others. They focus on saying negative things about people and report their misfortunes without actually confirming the truth. Furthermore, they do not care about how their words may influence the concerned person and make them feel. They disguise their need to gossip by a façade of concern. They probably do this because putting others down makes them feel better and superior to them. So, using this they boost their self-esteem. They also don’t care if the other person is interested in listening to them.

They like to be in the limelight.

Having a strong need to be admired is apparent in superficial people. They want to feel acknowledged and recognized by others. So, they act in ways to attract the attention of others. In a way, they feel entitled to be in the limelight and think that the world revolves around them. They are given names like narcissistic or drama queens by people due to such characteristics.

FAQs: Superficial Personality Traits

What are superficial characteristics?

Superficial characteristics refer to the traits of shallowness and inauthenticity. Such people are concerned about surface aspects and apparent features. They do not analyze people by going into depth of emotions, reasoning, knowledge, and character.

What does it mean to be a superficial person?

A superficial person has a focus on surface-level qualities. They judge a book by its cover and do not go deep inside to actually read it. They are overly concerned about their appearance and their self-image. Furthermore, they have a strong need to be admired and recognized by others be it for their power, physical appearance, and financial status. These people lack authenticity in their character.

Is being superficial a bad thing?

Being superficial is not always a bad thing. Physical attraction is important in a relationship. Similarly, it is good to care about your health, your appearance, and overall maintaining your lifestyle. However, it can be wrong when the motive for such behaviors is to impress others. Similarly, when this behavior goes overboard, it can be maladaptive and unhealthy for a person.

What is a superficial relationship?

A superficial relationship is one that is based on impressing others. It is a surface level relationship that lacks depth. Both people are concerned about their looks and self-image. They just have fun together and flirt with each other. It is not a relationship in which time, energy, and effort is invested to actually get to know the other person and being there for them in the good and bad parts of life.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed Superficial Personality Traits. We found that a superficial personality refers to someone who is not genuine or is inauthentic. In other words, a person with superficial personality traits lacks depth or is shallow. They have different characteristics. They are materialistic, lack opinions, intellectual depth, and are judgemental. They like to be in the limelight, love gossiping, are concerned about their physical appearance, do not say what they mean, do not contribute their part, and have one-sided relationships. So, in short, if you identify such a person based on suggested signs, it is better that you stay away from them since they do not prove to be reliable friends and worthy romantic partners in the long run.

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://hackspirit.com/superficial-person/

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/superficial

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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