Group bragging betrays insecurity, study shows

Oct 20, 2008

From partisans at a political rally to fans at a football game, groups that engage in pompous displays of collective pride may be trying to mask insecurity and a low social status, suggests new research led by University of California, Davis, psychologists.

The research will be presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology in Sacramento. Hosted this year by the UC Davis Department of Psychology, the three-day meeting will bring together about 250 research psychologists from around the world. The meeting is open to the media.

"Our results suggest that hubristic, pompous displays of group pride might actually be a sign of group insecurity as opposed to a sign of strength," says Cynthia Pickett, associate professor of psychology at UC Davis and one of only a few research psychologists to have studied collective pride.

Pickett and her co-investigators found that groups that boast, gloat and denigrate outsiders tend to be of low social status or vulnerable to threats from other groups. In contrast, those that express pride by humbly focusing on members' efforts and hard work tend to have high social standing.

Pickett will talk about how the new findings can be used to better understand this summer's Democrat and Republican political conventions. She will also talk about what she learned from interviews with UC Davis undergraduates following the university's first-ever football victory over Stanford in 2005.

Pickett's co-investigators included UC Davis psychology professor Richard Robins and University of British Columbia psychologist Jessica Tracy. Robins and Tracy, a former UC Davis doctoral student, were the first social scientists to observe that in individuals, the emotion of pride has a distinct nonverbal expression that is unlike body language used to express other positive emotions such as happiness and excitement. Those findings, first reported in a 2004 article in Psychological Science, were cited during the Beijing Olympics earlier this year by observers commenting on the body language of Michael Phelps and other triumphant athletes.

Source: University of California - Davis

Explore further: New insights into eyewitness memory from groundbreaking replication initiative

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

City layout key to predicting riots

Feb 21, 2013

In the future police will be able to predict the spread of riots, and how they impact on cities, thanks to a new computer model.

Recommended for you

Mother-daughter research team studies severe-weather phobia

Sep 19, 2014

No one likes severe weather, but for some just the thought of a thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane or blizzard can severely affect their lives. When blood pressures spike, individuals obsessively monitor weather forecasts and ...

Study: Pupil size shows reliability of decisions

Sep 18, 2014

Te precision with which people make decisions can be predicted by measuring pupil size before they are presented with any information about the decision, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational Bi ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RFC
not rated yet Oct 21, 2008
Even though this research may be interesting from a political perspective, injecting politics into it obscures the purpose and promise of the research.

Some people on these boards can't help themselves. But fortunately, there are people that keep their focus, do the research, stick to the rigor and promote advancement in their fields. Congrats to them and nuts to the rest.
SgntZim
not rated yet Oct 21, 2008
Not sure about American politics (or anything American, at the moment LoL). Surely this just proves the old adage " the louder the voice, the bigger the car, the smaller the dick?". Just another example of lack of self-confidence