Cross-cultural tests from 16 nations were performed to evaluate the hypothesis that the emotion of pride evolved to guide behavior to elicit valuation and respect from others. Ancestrally, enhanced evaluations would have led to increased assistance and deference from others. To incline choice, the pride system must compute for a potential action an anticipated pride intensity that tracks the magnitude of the approval or respect that the action would generate in the local audience. All tests demonstrated that pride intensities measured in each location closely track the magnitudes of others’ positive evaluations. Moreover, different cultures echo each other both in what causes pride and in what elicits positive evaluations, suggesting that the underlying valuation systems are universal.Abstract
Pride occurs in every known culture, appears early in development, is reliably triggered by achievements and formidability, and causes a characteristic display that is recognized everywhere. Here, we evaluate the theory that pride evolved to guide decisions relevant to pursuing actions that enhance valuation and respect for a person in the minds of others. By hypothesis, pride is a neurocomputational program tailored by selection to orchestrate cognition and behavior in the service of: (i) motivating the cost-effective pursuit of courses of action that would increase others’ valuations and respect of the individual, (ii) motivating the advertisement of acts or characteristics whose recognition by others would lead them to enhance their evaluations of the individual, and (iii) mobilizing the individual to take advantage of the resulting enhanced social landscape. To modulate how much to invest in actions that might lead to enhanced evaluations by others, the pride system must forecast the magnitude of the evaluations the action would evoke in the audience and calibrate its activation proportionally. We tested this prediction in 16 countries across 4 continents (n = 2,085), for 25 acts and traits. As predicted, the pride intensity for a given act or trait closely tracks the valuations of audiences, local (mean r = +0.82) and foreign (mean r = +0.75). This relationship is specific to pride and does not generalize to other positive emotions that coactivate with pride but lack its audience-recalibrating function.