Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pride: Adaptive Social Emotion or Seventh Sin?

The title of this post is taken from a tidy little article by Williams and DeSteno who perform a very simple manipulation to boost the pride (self esteem) of some of the participants in an experiment (telling them they have scored brilliantly on a previous test of visuospatial acuity regardless of their actual score), finding that they then take a dominant role within a subsequent group problem-solving task (working together on a three-dimensional puzzle), and also are perceived as the most likeable interaction partners. Here is their abstract:
This experiment examined the ability of pride to serve as an adaptive emotion within the context of social interaction. After an in vivo induction of pride or a neutral state, participants engaged in a group problem-solving task. In contrast to a conventional view that pride is often associated with negative interpersonal outcomes, results confirmed that proud individuals not only took on a dominant role within the group problem-solving task, but also were perceived as the most likeable interaction partners. These findings suggest that pride, when representing an appropriate response to actual performance (as opposed to overgeneralized hubris), constitutes a functional social emotion with important implications for leadership and the building of social capital.

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