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Pride, Even the Hubristic Kind, Allows Us to Survive

A new study has found that a proud person could either be truly self-confident or fallaciously arrogant.

The University of California study demonstrated that people have a propensity to associate pride either with triumph and self-assurance, which the authors term authentic pride, or they link it to self-aggrandizement and arrogance, called hubristic pride.

While authentic pride was connected to more positive personality characteristics than the hubristic type, the researchers propose that both emotions must have offered some survival help for our ancient ancestors.

Jessica Tracy and Richard Robins of the University of California, Davis, reviewed a number of past studies of human behaviour connected to pride.

They found that like other fundamental emotions, expressions of pride are known across age groups and cultures. For instance, just as a flow of tears and down-turned lips indicate sadness, a faint grin, a little inflated chest and hands on hips hint a person's pride.

The researchers also found that when a person experiences authentic pride, he or she was more expected to score high on extraversion, agreeableness, genuine self-esteem and conscientiousness. On the other hand Hubristic pride was most often linked with narcissism and disgrace.

"It's this self-aggrandizing self-esteem rather than genuinely feeling really good about yourself. There's this sort of underlying insecurity to it and competitiveness," Live Science quoted Tracy, as saying.

Work ethic also differed between the two faces of pride. People who held personal, achievement-based feelings of pride regarded hard work as the crucial factor to success in life, while hubristic individuals were subject to view success as predetermined and based on innate abilities.

The scientists advocated that both types of pride could have assisted our ancestors. In this manner, pride would be similar to the supposed basic emotions, such as fear, sadness and anger, which are said to have evolved as means of survival. For instance, an onslaught of fearful emotions could keep a person protected from danger and threat.

"We believe [pride is] an evolved emotion, but it's a little bit more indirectly related to survival. To the extent that it allows us to survive, it does that by helping us maintain our social relationships with others, sort of maintain our place in the social hierarchy," Tracy said.

In the past, while a demonstration of authentic self-esteem might have indicated a person's selfless behaviour, hubris might have been a social "short cut," a way to dodge others into paying one respect.

The scientists suggest that if they couldn't get respect the conventional way, our ancestors discovered how to act accomplished.

The study is published in the June issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.


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