The Apple Game: How Good a Person Are You?

I’d like to introduce you to a game I’ve been playing with friends for years. It’s not a game really—more of an exercise. The purpose is to add a bit more depth to the question, “Are you a good person?” Here’s how it’s played: Treat a person like an apple, with three layers of depth—

The idea is to label a person simply as either “good” or “bad” on each of these layers to create an “apple profile”—a quick sizing up of their goodness through and through. More about the three layers:

Layer 1) The Apple Skin

Definition: How you come off at first

Who Knows Your Skin: Everyone who comes into contact with you, from a cashier you buy something from (that’s the outermost surface) to a coworker you’ve never really gotten to know (further inwards but still considered the skin).

Questions to Ask to Know Whether Your Skin Is Good or Bad:

– Do people tend to like you and feel comfortable around you when they first meet you?
– Do people who barely know you think you’re a nice person?
– Would people describe you as “friendly”?
– Are you pleasant in public?
– Are you almost always nice to waiters, cab drivers, and cashiers?

If most of these answers are YES, your skin is Good. If not, your skin is Bad.

Layer 2) The Apple Flesh

Definition: How you are once people get to know you

Who Knows Your Flesh: Friends, family, significant others, and other people in your life who have gotten to know you pretty well.

Questions to Ask to Know Whether Your Flesh Is Good or Bad:

– Do you often talk about people behind their back very differently than you’d talk about them to their face?
– If someone says something bad about someone you care about when the person is not there, do you often stay quiet (as opposed to vocally standing up for the person)?
– Would people who know you well say you can be pretty petty sometimes?
– Would people who know you well say you can be pretty judgmental sometimes?
– Do you often feel schadenfreude when something goes badly for someone you know?
– When you’re at a one-on-one dinner with someone you know well, would you feel comfortable talking about yourself for much more than 50% of the time?
– Are you less-than-great at keeping secrets?
– Do you sometimes exaggerate or lie about facts when you recount stories from your life?
– Are you bad at returning things you borrow or paying people back quickly?

If the majority of these answers are NO, your flesh is Good. If not, your flesh is Bad.


Layer 3) The Apple Core

Definition: How you are deep down

Who Knows Your Core: For some people, their closest friends, family, or significant other. For others, only the person himself knows what his own core is like.

Questions to Ask to Know Whether Your Core Is Good or Bad:

– Picture a button that, if pressed, would make 1,000 strangers across the planet drop dead instantly and also make a career dream of yours come true or lead you to true love. No one would ever know that you pressed the button if you do. You’re given exactly one hour in front of the button to think about the decision. At the end of the hour, would you press it?
– Are you ever cruel just because it feels good to be?
– Are you meanest to the weakest people you know?
– Do you rarely feel any real empathy for those you care about in their times of misfortune?
– Do you typically make your friends and family members feel worse about themselves when you spend time with them?
– Would the people closest to you agree with the statement about you, “Deep down, she really only cares about herself.” Would you agree with that statement about yourself?

If most of these answers are NO, your core is good. If not, your core is bad.

Here’s a breakdown of the range of depth various people in your life probably know you:

The ranges aren’t just because various people in the same categories know you to various levels of depth, but because some people are more open and “let people in” more than others. So Tommy’s “pretty good friends” might know him better than Jenny’s closest friends know her, because Tommy is more open with friends than Jenny is.

Anyway, the end result here is eight possible apple profiles. To come up with your or someone else’s apple profile, you simply need to label them with either good or bad for all three layers and say them in order (skin, then flesh, then core). So someone who has a good skin, bad flesh, and good core would be a GOOD-BAD-GOOD.

Let’s discuss each of the profiles:


Their Deal: Saints through and through; everyone else other than BAD-GOOD-GOODs makes them a bit uncomfortable; they totally underestimate how bad bad people actually are.

Why They’re Great: The world needs some people like this to hold everything together; they’re intensely trustworthy.

Why They’re Shitty: They have potential to suck the fun out of the room; they disapprove of a lot of things.


Their Deal: They turn new people off only to be revealed as positively wonderful when you get to know them. GOOD-GOOD-GOODs like to make a token BAD-GOOD-GOOD friend to keep people on their toes.

Why They’re Great: They’re utterly solid; they detest both phoniness and pettiness; people tend to respect them; they make great leaders.

Why They’re Shitty: Their ego might be slightly too thrilled with its little “standoffish yet wonderful” thing.


Their Deal: Their friends chuckle when new people talk about how nice they are; they tend to be friends with a lot of other GOOD-BAD-GOODs; they often feel like they’re worse people than they actually are.

Why They’re Great: Usually fun and often funny; great social skills.

Why They’re Shitty: They can be both phony and petty, but nothing too dire.


Their Deal: They intimidate a lot of people and turn off others, but their friends think they’re the best and fiercely defend them. Most of their friends are other BAD-BAD-GOODS with some GOOD-BAD-GOODS and some BAD-BAD-BADs sprinkled in.

Why They’re Great: They’re kind of a dick but at least they’re a kind-hearted dick.

Why They’re Shitty: They’re kind of a dick.


Their Deal: Dangerous people; they win a lot of people over and end up hurting a lot of people; they make friends with GOOD-GOOD-GOODs, and then have nasty falling outs with them.

Why They’re Great: As far as Bad Core people go, they’re at least making the world a better place a lot of the time; strong profile for political success.

Why They’re Shitty: The people they do harm are the ones closest to them; they’re highly manipulative.


Their Deal: This is a weird and rare profile, and usually happens when a not-so-great person is carefully crafting their persona; they’re often delusional, thinking of themselves as a BAD-GOOD-GOOD (“People think I’m a dick but people who know me know I’m a great person”) and denying all ties to their bad core; they break a lot of hearts.

Why They’re Great: Good profile for success in a cutthroat industry (their bad skin can provide the proper intimidation, their good flesh can build a large trusting network, and their bad core can focus singlehandedly on personal advancement at all costs and fuck people over when necessary).

Why They’re Shitty: They’re pretty shitty people.


Their Deal: Everyone’s fun friend who turns out to also just kind of be a huge asshole. Lots of falling outs with GOOD-BAD-GOOD friends after hitting it off beautifully.

Why They’re Great: Amazing as a Real Housewives cast member.

Why They’re Shitty: Biggest phonies of the bunch.


Their Deal: Just a good old fashion bad person. Sometimes friends will try to spin the narrative that their BAD-BAD-BAD friend is really a BAD-BAD-GOOD, but no one really believes it. They don’t really understand people with Good Cores but detest both GOOD-GOOD-BADs and BAD-GOOD-BADs for both thinking and trying to project to the world that they’re better than BAD-BAD-BADs—BBBs see right through it.

Why They’re Great: They’re neither phony nor delusional; often make great standup comedians; great mafia profile.

Why They’re Shitty: Do you really have to ask why they’re shitty?

So…which one are you? How about your friends and family members?


If you liked this post, check out:

Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think

Life is a Picture, But You Live in a Pixel

10 Types of Odd Friendships You’re Probably Part Of

  • Fascinating.

    I used to be a BBG and now I’m a GBG.

    I’m thinking through people I know and there are a couple to whom I’d label with a bad core, but I don’t think any of them would agree with me.

  • Oh and the word verification needed to publish that comment was asininely hard…

  • I *think* I’m a BGG. But maybe that’s just my ego looking for a boost. 😉

  • Anonymous

    According to this, I’m GGG but I don’t think of myself as a saint of any kind and I’m not judgmental at all. I guess I’m a converted GBG but still think I’m worse than I really am.

    • Anonymous

      Same here it comes as a surprise

  • I am mostly a BGG but I know some people who will label me a GBG, but that’s mostly because they’re GBG themselves.

  • Is there anyone that doesn’t believe their G at the core?

    • I am yet to find someone who calls themselves a _ _ B.

    • Anonymous

      Okay here goes:

      my name is ____ and I am (currently a GBB). (Hi, ____.)

      It’s been an evolution really–and accordingly I don’t think it’s a permanent stage. I was definitely a GGG all the way through about college. But once one gets betrayed by someone (and I’m not talking “oh he told this about me”, or “she lied to me”–I’m talking betrayal that would make the Shakespeare’s worst characters wince), you start to develop a _B_. And then, like any rotting flesh, it starts to eat at your core: it only takes a few more incidents of seeing the B’s of other people, until you yourself can look in the mirror after reading an article like this (if you still maintain your honesty) and say “Damnit, I’m a GBB.”

      I think that will change though: I do think–like cancer before it’s too bad, it can be eliminated. I know there’s GG at my flesh and core, it’s just buried underneath some experiences–that thankfully I’ve healed from, but I think the effects–or mentality shift–still linger. People, it’s a dog eat dog world, and only the strong (or, GBB/GGB/GBG/insert other variation here) survive.

      That being said, those in my “inner sanctum” (i.e. my very best, long-time friends, some family, and people that I deeply admire) only see me as a GGG, and for them that is true. So maybe you yourself can be one thing, but others may activate a switch in you.

      Also, I’d be very interested in knowing politicians’ and business execs’ and celebrities’ profiles. If there were a way to measure it, I’d be willing to put everything I have that all politicians are G| B/G| B. You can’t succeed in politics (or really anywhere) unless people at least think you’re a decent person. You also can’t succeed in politics at such a high-level (or anywhere else) unless you’re willing to screw someone over in the most unthinkable (to a G core) ways.The real fun is when people start to see the B’s surface.

      Probably our most hated politicians (think Bush, Cheney, etc.) failed at masking their B’s. The others have mastered the art. Obama is probably a G/G+B/confused-in denial B, and for the most part he does well with masking most traces of his B. Hillary and Bill? Romney… I wonder where these people fall–but again, I’d be willing to be they are ALL B-cores.

      Jay-Z? GBB (you can’t sell crack cocaine to anyone within a 30 mile radius without a bad flesh and core). Steve Jobs? By all accounts, probably a BGB. Or some variation of the middle, but definitely a B skin and core.

      It’s weird though: how do you explain the people that will do anything to get what they want–to turn around and genuinely do something good? The person who will step on anyone to create the biggest company, only to turn and genuinely will it all away to charity?

      Fluidity. So I’ll admit that I’m a GBB, as it stands right now, but I do think it’s on a continuum, and one day (maybe soon!) I’ll return and be a GGG. Or a BGG (old people). Or a GBG. Right now, I’ve got the heart and soul of a politician. (Ironically–or maybe not ironically–I live in DC. Could any of this be geographic East Coast people are ___ and West Coast are ____ whereas the South and Midwest are largely ___? That’d be interesting. I’m sure where you’re from plays a huge part….)

      Also, can one be neutral? Like introverts who don’t really show any skin, to anyone, and require a lot of work to break which inevitably leads you straight to the flesh. Could their skin be neutral?

      P.S. I think mostly everyone on their death bed converts to a GGG. Looming abyss + regret’s a mother.

    • Anonymous

      One last thing: true to “Opposites Attract” form, my significant other is ALL GGGGGGGGGGGGG. Absolutely without question the kindest, nicest, most loyal and genuinely good person I have ever met.

      Needless to say the entire duration of our relationship has been replete with me having identity crises, meltdowns–I never knew a relationship could be so existential. Every day I’m like “why are you such a good person? I don’t deserve you.” And before I thought this line was a copout (when used by others), but now I truly understand it, from the inside.

      Every day is an internal struggle when face-to-face with her: I’m constantly battling my BBs, and she’s there, like the GGG she is, loving me, being supportive, blah blah. WHY, GOD, WHY? It’d almost make sense for me to be with another GBB: at least we’d get each other, and there’d be no hurt feelings.

      But then _GGs probably need that edge, and someone to make them feel protected. And _BBs probably need someone to remind them of their own humanity. In the world of fiction, the Underwoods on House of Cards embody the _BB ideal: two people, both Bs at their core, who understand each other and the other’s motivation on every level. Sometimes it’s hard being with a GGG. It’s like they speak another language, and you feel more than the average level of bad for ever hurting them.

    • Anonymous

      Or maybe, after reading this (sorry for multiple posts–it’s just a very interesting topic) I’m actually a GBG (“they usually think they’re worse people than they are”), and beating myself up because of Catholic and other guilt.

      hmmm…maybe there’s hope after all.

    • Anonymous

      Loved your multiple posts. Very insightful. And why do we Catholics have to feel so dang guilty all the time???????? BTW, did you push the button, or even think about pushing the button? Just curious.

    • Anonymous

      this is a good – bad – good post.

    • Anonymous

      anonymous 1: ugh. as much as I hate to admit it, I probably would push the button. Everyone’s going to die anyway, right? The only thing I’m really deciding is the time. Sooner than later. And maybe that’s good for them!

      I think the key to being a _BB–and avoiding the psych ward or leaving it all behind for a convent/monastery–is being able to RATIONALIZE everything. You have to be able to explain why your bad behavior is actually right, moral, and acceptable–and even good. I do it all the time (“I had to tell her her child is dense so she can get him to read, which will in turn help him get to college.” In reality, I just wanted to tell her her son is dense.) and ABSOLUTELY politicians do. It’s kind of like the line from Milton’s story on creation which says something about the mind can make a heaven out of hell and a hell out of heaven: it’s all in how you spin it.

      (God, I sound really morally depraved.)

      Did you push the button?

      Anonymous 2: are you saying that the post was from one who is GBG? or that the posts are good/bad/good? If the latter, I’d have to say they were GGB. The third was totally useless except for to assuage me of my own inner angst.

  • Anonymous

    Shit, I’m a BGB shity mf…

  • BBB

    This game sucks… it’s sorta trying to infer all the person’s character and attitude from a limited set of behavior (yes, I know it’s not serious and just for fun :)).
    By the way, my best friend gets GGG (being really far, far from that).

  • Bgg. Although I’m not sure i am a reliable reporter.

  • I am totally with the long Anonymous post on here.
    Mostly I’m a GGG, but certain places/people/industries can turn a GGG into something else. We tend to be overly sensitive people, which is also one of our “faults”. It’s true, we expect the rest of the world to truly want the best for everyone else just like we do, and when we learn that is not how it is, we may over-react.
    I have learned that if I’m around the shitty-er types listed here for too long, I kind of turn into a GGB, GBG, BGG, or BBG, or some other variation.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Applying this analysis to Breaking Bad characters!

    GGG: Walt Jr. – At every turn has shown himself to be a good kid through and through
    BGG: Hank – He’s kind of a dick with his racist jokes and yelling at Marie, but has the strongest moral compass of anyone on the show and is loved by people who know him
    GBG: Skyler – Does some really shitty things out of fear but probably has a good core, and presents a good image to most of the world
    BBG: Jesse – In this case his good core is buried pretty deep but it’s clearly there
    GGB: Walt – Not Heisenberg (who’s a BBB), but Walter White the chemistry teacher / family man as he presents himself to his family. Interestingly he’s the opposite of Jesse at every level.
    BGB: Saul – Appears at first to just be a sleazy lawyer, is actually a bit complicated than that. He’s good to his clients but really has no morals, will do anything for money.
    GBB: Todd – An oddly polite psychopath
    BBB: Jack, Tuco, various other villains – Looks like an asshole, is an asshole

    • Anonymous

      Love that! You left out Marie.

    • Anonymous

      I think Marie is GBB. She can be very judgmental and tends to make everything about herself which reveals a bad flesh. Her careless kleptomania and the dark fantasies she indulges in recent episodes reveals a bad core.

    • Anonymous

      i would say walter White is a BGG

    • Great!! Quite an idea! I agree with the most of your evaluations, but not so much with Jesse. He can have the look of a Bad but he is a clear GG in flesh and bone to me.
      About Walter White and Heisenberg, I think its the same person in a breaking bad development, obviously. Following the rules of the game Id say that he is a GGG that turns into a GGB (he still have a Good skin for cashiers and so, another Good for his brother in law and his wife despite they were making his life pretty hard).

      But regardless the rules of the apple game, I think that the series successfully presents that “every” person is capable of good/bad actions, no matter who they are or how they look like, or they work doing Meth in a lab or as the nice and petty boss of Los Pollos Hermanos.

  • Anonymous

    Would it be bad to push the button, if your career goal was to cure cancer?

    • Anonymous

      I’m the long anonyomous poster from above, and I say it depends on how you spin it, right? Doctors, pharmas, scientists–they do this EVERY. DAY.

      They run experiments on thousands of people in the hopes that they’ll find a cure for a disease. But while we celebrate the headlines after they acheive those ends, we don’t discuss the fact that at least 1 person–if not dozens, hundreds, even thousands over the longterm–were adversely affected by the experiments/drug testing. But, they’re a means to an end…casualties for the greater good.

      And even after certain drugs hit the market, don’t they give such long disclaimers? Hey you might get cancer, blood clots, dizziness, etc etc, and DIE (and some indeed do)–but that’s okay because someone else’s headache will go away if they take this medicine.

      So I guess it’s…you’re going to push the button in one way or another: it’s how you perceive it/explain it to yourself.

      But then I’m a _BB so…take what you will and leave the rest.

    • John Stuart Mill


  • GGG

    I’m a GGG who thinks he’s a GGB.

    • Anonymous

      I like that idea – because that could be me too. But what if you were a GGB that thought you were a GGG, making you then make this post saying that you’re a GGG who thinks you’re a GGB…(am I blowing your mind?!)

      • Vivid

        that’s pretty intimidating discussion right there.

  • Anonymous


    This reflects my love life most of all

  • Anonymous

    “Picture a button that, if pressed, would make 1,000 strangers across the planet drop dead instantly and also make a career dream of yours come true or lead you to true love. No one would ever know that you pressed the button if you do. You’re given exactly one hour in front of the button to think about the decision. At the end of the hour, would you press it?”

    Well, 1 stranger dropping dead is bad enough already. Talk about 1000 strangers. O.O

    • Vivid

      The more difficult question would be, if pressing that button kills 1 million people but save you, but if you didn’t, it would kill you. Now, that is pretty hard.

  • Anonymous

    I’m probably a BGB. Shit.

  • Anonymous

    Avatar fan profiling!

    GGG: Aang, Katara, Iroh (overall good people with rarely selfish intentions)
    GBG: Sokka (friendly, but sometimes prideful)
    BGG: Suki (rough exterior, but kind at heart)
    BBG: Toph, Zuko (rougher exterior/tough love. Zuko wavers throughout the series)
    GGB: Sozin (mostly reasonable intentions until his rise as Fire Lord)
    GBB: Zhao (revered as a general, but treated comrades unfairly and spirits immorally)
    BGB: Azula (tough exterior and black heart, but still reasonable towards Mai and Ty Lee)
    BBB: Ozai (evil)

  • Not-a-morning-person.

    Hmm, interesting.
    In the morning I’m a BBG.
    In the afternoon, evening and night I’m a GBG.
    I confess I regret sometimes I were GGG and the times I’ve been GBB.

  • Pingback: Introverting | My Blog Name Lacks Creativity()

  • Brie B.

    I think this could be summarized as, “Are you a dick to strangers and acquaintances; are you a dick to most of your friends; are you a dick to the people who care about you most and/or innocents?”

  • Anonymous

    I classify as a GGG, and I wonder if this whole good-bad business might just be a giant load of crap. As far as I know the behaviour, desires and attitudes listed at the apple flesh and core are either simply impractical and self-defeating, or are caused by the frustration that comes from doing many impractical and self-defeating things.

    I would love to meet people who are fundamentally bad since I’m very curious as to whether they exist, but so far I’ve only met people who are having a hard time dealing with the world/people around them and are unable to change their behaviour because they are too busy mentally chastising themselves for being ‘bad’ people. (Or people that have given up on becoming ‘good’ because they grew tired of mentally chastising themselves, which is understandable since mentally chastising yourself is also very impractical)

  • Just a random guy

    I’m BBB.

  • anon

    This GGB matches well with my chaotic evil

  • Chip Whitley

    I like the fact that if in the part 3 I will agree to kill 1000 people to make a career and will answer no to the rest of the questions I am still a good person.

  • Chip Whitley

    Why to treat a person like an apple with tree layers of depth? Didn’t a human being deserve to be compared with more comlicated things like cabbage or broccoli at least?

  • A$

    Bad good good & the ego is on point

  • sasda

    im good good bad and that description perfectly describes me

  • True evil always believes that it is doing good jobs Every Time.

  • Handsome Jack

    BGB. Kill 1000 strangers to accomplish my goals? I’d press it instantly, no hesitation.

    • Jack

      I’d do that too, handsome version of myself.

  • BBB

    I guess I’m Bad Bad Bad if I go by the black and white thinking in this post, but I think in reality I’m probably just neutral, neutral, neutral. And killing 1000 people to accomplish your goals doesn’t seem THAT bad to me, it’s an easily understandable decision.

  • ericsp23

    I got Bad, Good, Good, but my skin was only one question away from good and my flesh was only one question away from bad. My core was pretty good; I only answered yes to the first question (I initially said no, but after thinking about it for a bit I had to be honest with myself and say I would probably press the button). I think Neutral, Neutral, Good would be a better characterization of my “apple”.

  • Here’s a fun question, which fictional characters are described by each category?

  • AnthonyAHarper

    22222Ultra Income source by waitbutwhy Find Here

  • itsamemario

    I’m a GGB but I won’t tell you, hehe…

  • guest

    I see a link between this article and “Religion for the Non-religious”
    If the core is bad then it means that you are in the fog because you believe in the whole “dog eats dog”, me vs them thing , just look at the paragraph “Our lives in the fog”: “It’s why we’re self-absorbed and narcissistic; vain and greedy; narrow-minded and judgmental; cold, callous, and even cruel.” doesn’t that describe well a person who’s deep down evil? Or someone who would really choose the 1000 deaths for a good career option? Also, I think that bad flesh and skin still means being in the fog but to a much lesser degree.

    I’m a GGG, and I ignore insignificant things like power ,wealth, career or society’s expectations. They can’t make me sway from the path of my morals for I deeply believe that what comes first are not material things but humanity itself.

    And if I’m the only one to truly believe in this, I don’t care, I will still pursue my values to my grave and beyond.

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