A jerk is a selfish and manipulative person who has the tendency to exploit others inhumanly with his or her constant rudeness and insensitivity. A jerk is easy to come by, but have you ever looked in the mirror and ask yourself – am I a jerk?
Chances are, you have not. And even if you are one, you wouldn’t know. How do you know if you are a jerk?
Eric Schwitzgebel, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, has created a questionnaire to help you find out whether or not you are a jerk. This five-question quiz will judge your level of what he refers to a “jerkitude” by asking how you would respond in certain events.
According to Schwitzgebel, a jerk is – “someone who culpably fails to appreciate the perspectives of others around him.” He or she treats others as tools to be manipulated or fools to be dealt with instead of treating them as moral and epistemic peers.
The hardest part being jerks is realizing their moral character. They face special kind of obstacles to do so, because of their disregard of the opinions of those around who could give them useful critical feedback.
Many jerks have a pretty high moral opinion of themselves, or at least a moderate one of themselves, Schwitzgebel writes in a post at Nautilus. They don’t think of themselves as one, because jerk self-knowledge is hard to come by.
Schwitzgebel said personality categories closest to jerk are the ‘dark triad’ of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathic personality. Because much like jerks implicitly or explicitly do, narcissists regard themselves as more important than others around them. However, as Schwitzgebel explains, “narcissism is not quite jerkitude as it also involves a desire to be the center of attention, a desire that jerks don’t always have.”
“Machiavellian personalities tend to treat people as tools they can exploit for their own ends, which jerks also do. And yet this too is not quite jerkitude, since Machivellianism involves self-conscious cynicism, while jerks can often be ignorant of their self-serving tendencies,” he explained. “People with psychopathic personalities are selfish and callous, as is the jerk, but they also incline toward impulsive risk-taking, while jerks can be calculating and risk-averse.”
Schwitzgebel says there is likely no correlation between your self-opinion about your degree of jerkitude and your true degree of jerkitude. Take the five-question jerk quiz now, and find out.
1. You’re waiting in a line at the pharmacy. What are you thinking?
(a) Did I forget anything on my shopping list?
(b) Should I get ibuprofen or acetaminophen? I never can keep them straight.
(c) Oh no, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to bump you.
(d) These people are so damned incompetent! Why do I have to waste my time with these fools?
2. At the staff meeting, Peter says that your proposal probably won’t work. You think:
(a) Hm, good point but I bet I could fix that.
(b) Oh, Loretta is smiling at Peter again. I guess she agrees with him and not me, darn it. But I still think my proposal is probably better than his.
(c) Shoot, Peter’s right. I should have thought of that!
(d) Peter the big flaming ass. He’s playing for the raise. And all the other idiots here are just eating it up!
3. You see a thirty-year-old guy walking down the street with steampunk goggles, pink hair, dirty sneakers, and badly applied red lipstick. You think:
(a) Different strokes for different folks!
(b) Hey, is that a new donut shop on the corner?
(c) I wish I were that brave. I bet he knows how to have fun.
(d) Get a job already. And at least learn how to apply the frickin lipstick.
4. At a stop sign, a pedestrian is crossing slowly in front of your car. You think:
(a) Wow, this tune on my radio has a fun little beat!
(b) My boss will have my hide if I’m late again. Why did I hit snooze three times?
(c) She looks like she’s seen a few hard knocks. I bet she has a story or two to tell.
(d) Can’t this bozo walk any faster? What a lazy slob!
5. The server at the restaurant forgets that you ordered the hamburger with chili. There’s the burger on the table before you, with no chili. You think:
(a) Whatever. I’ll get the chili next time. Fewer calories anyway.
(b) Shoot, no chili. I really love chili on a burger! Argh, let’s get this fixed. I’m hungry!
(c) Wow, how crowded this place is. She looks totally slammed. I’ll try catch her to fix the order next time she swings by.
(d) You know, there’s a reason that people like her are stuck in loser jobs like this. If I was running this place I’d fire her so fast you’d hear the sonic boom two miles down the street.
ANSWERS TO JERK QUIZ:
How many times did you answer (d)?
0: Sorry, I don’t believe you.
1-2: Yeah, fair enough. Same with the rest of us.
3-4: Ouch. Is this really how you see things most of the time? I hope you’re just being too hard on yourself.
5: Yes, you are being too hard on yourself. Either that, or please step forward for the true-blue jerk gold medal!
Being a jerk has its own advantage, too, especially if you’re an employer or a boss. A study has shown that employees whose bosses are consistently unfair are less stressed and more satisfied with their jobs compared to employees with fickle bosses.
Sources: UC, Riverside, Nautilus