Such a person does not hold in high regard the decisions taken by a group (not a team) of people. She believes that groups tend to be anarchic and don't serve their purpose.

An example would be - for outings with friends, this person will not like planning it with the group since they will mess it up.

Therefore, this person has convinced herself that when more people are involved with something, it will be worse. She distrusts crowds instinctively basically.

  • Crazy Eddie? :) google for it if you don't get the reference.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 19:26
  • While not all obnoxious people are contrarian, all contrarians of the type you describe do seem to be obnxious, and sometimes that's a good way to describe them.
    – Merk
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 8:26

7 Answers 7


I'd call that person a

contrarian: a person who takes a contrary position or attitude

  • 8
    Since it hasn’t been mentioned yet, people regularly use hipster as a disparaging term when they mean contrarian. (Hipsters are a contrarian subculture, but not all contrarians are hipsters.)
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 15:58
  • Yes, hipster is closer to what I originally wanted - not following the mainstream because it's too mainstream. The wording of my question ended up implying contrarian, which is an appropriate answer for the question. I guess non-conformist is the word which loses the fashion sensibility associated with a hipster and keeps the contrarian viewpoint? Thank you for bringing it up. Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 16:36
  • Come to think of it, contrarian does not capture the fact that the person is opposed to a group of people - just takes a contrary stance. Individualist tells there are other people, but it doesn't necessarily imply a contrary opinion. Non-conformist does both. Non native speaker here. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 17:03
  • You got it wrong, its the crowd which are contrarians to the individual. Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 17:10
  • 1
    @shishir: I think you're onto something. Truth is, it's very difficult to come up with one word that always captures the complete essence of an entire sentence or paragraph in every context.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 17:28

I don't say contrarian isn't a valid answer, but it's not that common. People are more likely to say...

"He's just being contrary" rather than "He's a contrarian"

But far more common in my experience (particularly in speech) are the idiomatic...

"He's a dog in the manger"

...which calls attention to the fact that his refusal to go along with the majority detracts from other people's enjoyment, or is otherwise detrimental, and...

"He's playing devil's advocate"

...which accuses someone of arguing for a position they don't really endorse, simply for the sake of making an arguement.

I don't recognise the particular personality OP describes (would she be happy to accept a decision made by one other person? Would it make any difference if that decision affected just the two of them, or everyone else in a large group?). She might be any of...

[nonconformist, renegade, maverick, rebel, radical, individualist, heretic, dissenter, dissident, iconoclast, loner], etc., etc.

...depending on exactly what other characteristics she has, and on OP's value judgement of her.

  • 3
    @Jim: In modern Western society all those tend to have positive/admiring connotations. There are plenty the other way - negativist, dissenter, obstructionist, awkward squad, stubborn etc. It just all depends why the person doesn't go along with others - which usually doesn't have much to do with whatever justifications they give for their behaviour. Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 19:58
  • +1, for your list at the bottom, and that latest comment. As a side note, I'm not sure "devil's advocate" is a good fit here, because those who play D.A. usually do agree with the majority opinion – but, as I've said about a couple of my words, there's no harm in adding that idiom into the discussion.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 22:05
  • @J.R.: I've never come up against the notion that a devil's advocate is likely to be someone who agrees with the majority. The definition at dictionary.com - a person who advocates an opposing or unpopular cause for the sake of argument is in line with my own opinion. The term is often used not just when a person is arguing insincerely, but specifically when most others agree he's "defending the indefensible". Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 22:14
  • @FF: I suppose you're right. When we hear someone say, "I'm just playing devil's advocate," that's often an admission that the person doesn't (necessarily) agree with the stance they are taking – which is the context I was thinking about. But I should've been more careful in my comment; as you point out, there's a difference between playing devil's advocate, and the term "devil's advocate" itself.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 22:33
  • 1
    @FF: Yup, that's pretty much what I was thinking about, when I made my initial comment.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 22:54

You could call that person an individualist.

individualist: a person who exhibits independence and individuality in behaviour, opinions, or actions

If you wanted, you could also use the term rugged individualist, a term with a most interesting Ngram. Here's an example of its use:

The value of competition and individual excellence is highly prized... The value of collaboration is less well understood and rewarded. As Norris stated: "In our society, which glorifies the rugged individualist and emphasizes confrontation, cooperation is the recourse of last resort... You cooperate when nothing else works." (Zonana, 1988)

You might also consider loner, or even lone wolf.

loner: someone who prefers to be alone and to do things without other people
lone wolf: someone who likes to be or work alone; a person who avoids the company or assistance of others – also called a lone hand

  • 1
    an individualist in my understanding is someone who makes up their own mind. they might either conform to the group view or not, depending on whether the group shares their viewpoint or not. He's not someone who goes against group opinion, just for that reason. I believe a contrarian is a more accurate definition for what OP was looking for.
    – siamii
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 9:27
  • 1
    @bizso: I won't argue that individualist is a better word (I don't want to appear too contrarian here), but I still think it's a candidate worthy of consideration. To me, contrarian suggests someone who goes against conventional wisdom, and isn't necessarily someone who merely "doesn't like planning with a group." Also, contrarian might be considered a negative word, whereas individualism might be thought of as a more positive trait; word choice might depend on how one wants to portray this distrust.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 9:45
  • No, I disagree. An individualist would make their own decision and not worry about whether or not it liked up with the majority opinion. The OP wants a label for one that does the opposite of majority opinion, and this takes that opinion into consideration.
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 17:30
  • @Andy: I won't disagree; individualist is not a precise fit. I still think it's worth a mention, particularly if a couple other options are thrown in. Good feedback, though – for both me, and the O.P.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 17:35

Iconoclast — someone who actively tries to overthrow the established traditions or conventional modes of conduct.


A sophist is someone who argues for the sake of arguing rather than with the purpose of arriving at truth.


I believe a more constructive term for such a person is the Devil's advocate. Most groups, including companies and business firms, would always appoint this role to someone during discussions and meetings. This is so it forces the group to analyze the possible loopholes and negative feedback their decisions would receive, and thus take a more appropriate approach.

  • That’s a little different, I believe. To assume this role is a normal task in preparing a rhetorical argument, or to actually find some merit in opposing side’s views and adjust accordingly, whereas a contrarian is often someone who would go against the grain just in spite.
    – theUg
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 8:53

Such a person is probably a sceptic - one who tends to question accepted beliefs.



(North American skeptic)


1 A person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.

‘Once again, the people proved all the skeptics, all the doubters, all the detractors, wrong, that democracy can work in this part of the world.’
‘Indeed, all progress depends on the sceptic, the questioner, the person who does not wholly conform.’

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