Take Pride in your Achievements

by Mike Clayton  - January 7, 2015

Blow your own trumpet

When you score a success in anything, it can be hard to resist a little sense of pride in your effectiveness and productivity.

Indeed, in terms of motivation, this pride is a good thing: becoming more conscious of what you achieve can boost your self-confidence, possibly leading to better performance and thus more success. But there is a problem: socially, we are often warned that pride goes before a fall, that it can look arrogant or conceited, and that it can trigger envy and disdain.

Perhaps it is best, after all, to suppress your pride, stiffen your backbone, and carry on as if nothing has happened.

Well, the answer seems to be no, in contradiction to the normal perception, a little justifiable pride turns out to be good for our social standing.

In an experiment that encouraged subjects to feel pride in their performance of a simple computer-based task, two researchers at Northeastern University then asked them to participate in a team-based task.

The subjects who had been induced to feel pride took more control over the task, whether or not they felt more able or what mood they were in. And both team-mates and observers rated the ‘proud’ subjects as both more likeable and more dominant.

Associated research – including that of Amy Cuddy and colleagues at Harvard suggests that the reason for this is that when we feel genuine pride, it triggers changes in our posture and facial expressions: we sit up straighter, smile more and, consequently, appear more confident, dominant, and likeable.

So don’t just feel proud for yourself: do it to help inspire, motivate and engage others around you.


Psychological Science, 20(3), 284-288. (2009).
Pride: Adaptive social emotion or seventh sin?
Lisa A Williams, Desteno David.

Psychological Science October 2010 21: 1363-1368, (2010)
Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance
Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy and Andy J. Yap

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Powerhouse, by Mike clayton


My newest book is Powerhouse.

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