Collective display of pride betrays insecurity, low social status

October 21st, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 21 (IANS) Aggressive or pompous displays of collective pride may be masking insecurity and a low social status, according to the latest research.”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,” said Cynthia Pickett, associate professor of psychology at University of California, Davis (UCD).

Pickett and her associates found that groups that boast, gloat and denigrate outsiders tend to be of low social status or vulnerable to threats from other groups. Conversely, 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, according to an UCD release.

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.

The research will be presented on Thursday at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology in Sacramento. The three-day meeting will bring together about 250 research psychologists from around the world.

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