8 Distinct Reasons Behind Defensiveness

The Psychology Behind The Defensiveness Response

2 min readDec 1, 2022


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Emotion and behaviour both can be considered as defensiveness. The emotion, which usually includes feelings of humiliation, sadness and anger is triggered when you sense that someone is criticizing you.

There could be certain reasons behind someone’s defensive behaviour. The following are some common reasons:

1) Response to insecurity or fear

For instance, if someone was bullied as a kid, that person might become a bully, later on, to feel powerful by creating the appearance of security.

2) Response to childhood trauma and abuse

By showing defensive behaviour, the person tries to feel more powerful.

3) Response to anxiousness or a lack of self-confidence

A person could act defensively if he/she lacks the confidence to communicate assertively or have social anxiety.

4) Response to remorse or humiliation

A person can react defensively if someone brings up a similar subject that the person is feeling guilty about.

5) Response to lying about something

If someone is lying or attempting to conceal the truth about anything, that person could become defensive.

6) Response to criticism of your behaviour or character

A person can react defensively if he/she feels the need to defend choices they have made or certain traits of their personality.

7) Response to feeling powerless to change

A person can react defensively if someone criticizes an aspect of theirs that they wish they could change but feel unable to do so.

8) Sign of a mental health condition

Defensiveness can occasionally be a symptom of a more serious mental health issue, for example, a personality disorder, eating disorder, and so on.



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Ph.D. Candidate (Mgmt)| Educator| Education Counsellor| Content Writer| Writing about things that intrigue my curious mind | https://beacons.ai/afshara39