Good People Never Suspect Others' Hidden Agendas

It's uncommon for good people to suspect other's bad intentions. But, what do egoistic attitudes and hidden agendas reveal?
Good People Never Suspect Others' Hidden Agendas
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 11 June, 2022

Sometimes we make innocent mistakes. We don’t see the hidden agendas or intentions, masked selfishness and falseness wrapped up in the kind deeds of others who are trying to take advantage of us. In other words, we don’t stop to suspect the hidden agendas that others may have

There are those that preach, “think the worst and you’ll be right.” But good people or those who simply prefer to see the best in everything rarely share this point of view.

A noble heart always looks for the good in others, turns the other cheek, gives second chances, and practices trust. Let’s reflect on that together.

Should we suspect hidden malice?

The inclination to do good seems to be quite incompatible with the tendency of having negative perceptions of what others do. However, there are situations where the common good is far from being a priority. We’ll look at a few of these below.

Disguised selfishness

Selfishness in disguise.

Those who don’t practice this emotional openness and only seek to fulfill their own selfish interests don’t create relationships. They don’t build bridges or reinforce bonds.

What’s more, with this kind of attitude, they may be able to achieve success, but never excellence. This is exactly what Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon affirm. Since 1996, these prestigious psychologists have been developing what’s known as The Good Project .

Through this educational initiative, they aim to combine ethics and good work, transmitting values with which future generations can promote the wellbeing of society. Only this way will the formation of authentic professionals be possible.

The same thing happens in private and social settings. This personal excellence can only be achieved by looking out for the welfare of others and respect through reciprocity.

However, people with good and noble intentions at heart often don’t perceive the disguised greed and individualism of others. The fact of the matter is that having good intentions leaves you with little to no room for thinking about “bad” intentions.

False interests

It’s true that even good people, at some point, may receive favors from those around them. However, they trust that others give freely and voluntarily. However, there are some people who will not hesitate to practice deceptive behavior in order to carry out their hidden agendas.

In fact, according to several scientific studies conducted by Robert Feldman from the University of Massachusetts, people are more likely to lie in circumstances where they’re out to achieve or obtain something.

This includes omissions, exaggeration, and serious lies to pursue selfish interests. While in some cases these are “white lies”, there may also be major fabrications, which can be quite hurtful when discovered.

The thing is that that many people with a good heart, characterized by practicing trust, respect, and altruism, don’t stop to suspect the bad intentions and false interests of others. What’s more, it’s often hard to anticipate or pick up on hidden selfishness.

At the same time, those who want to obtain some benefits at the cost of someone else’s trust will often resort to manipulation. In this process, they take advantage of the other person’s empathy, producing feelings that make the other person willing to accept their explanations.

A manipulative puppet master.

What happens when you suspect hidden agendas?

When you come to recognize hidden agendas or bad intentions in others in others, feelings of disappointment set in. Fortunately–and unfortunately–the hearts of good people are more vulnerable to this pain when someone manages to fool them.

But, despite the fact that you may end up feeling naive, the selfishness and hidden agendas of others are learning opportunities that life gives us. Therefore, you’re better off accepting them as such, rather than beating yourself up or falling into pessimism.

In other words, despite the fact that others decide to commit such acts, we can still grow and care for our own emotional wellbeing, which provides us with shelter when we need it. We must follow the path that we desire, without allowing these downfalls to change us.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Feldman, R. S., Forrest, J. A., & Happ, B. R. (2002). Self-Presentation and Verbal Deception: Do Self-Presenters Lie More? Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 24(2), 163–170.
  • Mota, N., Chaves, E., Antunes, M., Borges, R., Paiva, A., & Santos, V. (2017). Contextualized Contribution of Kindness to Favorable Goal- and Circumstantial-Driven Neuropsychological Regulation. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1643.
  • Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy People Become Happier through Kindness: A Counting Kindnesses Intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 361–375.; texto completo
  • Polage, D. (2017). The effect of telling lies on belief in the truth. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 13(4), 633–644.; texto completo

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.