Follow your pride

The New York Times has an interesting article on the psychology of pride and how it has an impact on ourselves and others.

The piece starts with the predictable ‘credit crunch’ hook, but goes on to discuss some of the few studies that have investigated the effects of pride.

Considering that it’s supposedly one of the ‘deadly sins’, one study struck me as particularly interesting. The researchers asked participants to take a test and then gave them rigged scores…

The researchers manipulated the amount of pride each participant felt in his or her score. They either said nothing about the score; remarked, in a matter-of-fact tone, that it was one of the best scores they had seen; or gushed that the person’s performance was wonderful, about as good as they had ever seen.

The participants then sat down in a group to solve similar puzzles. Sure enough, the students who had been warmly encouraged reported feeling more pride than the others. But they also struck their partners in the group exercise as being both more dominant and more likable than those who did not have the inner glow of self-approval. The participants, whether they had been buttered up or not, were completely unaware of this effect on the group dynamics.

“We wondered at the beginning whether these people were going to come across as arrogant jerks,” Dr. DeSteno said. “Well, no, just the opposite; they were seen as dominant but also likable. That’s not a combination we expected.”

The article also makes the interesting point that pride is one of those psychological concepts we discuss on a day-to-day basis but which has been largely neglect by research psychologists.

Wisdom is another, and probably by this measure, one of the most neglected psychological areas.

However, I noticed this week that the Archives of General Psychiatry published a review article entitled ‘Neurobiology of wisdom: a literature overview’ which seemed very commendable if not a little over-enthusiastic.

I’ve no idea why it was published in a psychiatry journal. Presumably, a drug company will shortly try and market one of their medications as a treatment for ‘judgement deficit disorder’ or ‘experience-based reasoning fatigue’.

You laugh now, but just wait six months.

Link to NYT article ‘When All You Have Left Is Your Pride’.
Link to summary of wisdom article.

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