Articles from Cass Knowledge

Self-promotion or bragging - How emotional responses to self-promotion are misjudged

When does self-promotion go too far? This research looks at how those with a tendency to over-promote themselves, their strengths and accomplishments, may actually be achieving the opposite to their desired effect among their audience.

People quite naturally wish to be perceived by others in a favourable light, be it in a social or professional situation, and one way they may attempt to achieve this is through self-promotion. For example they may enumerate their strengths and positive traits, or highlight their accomplishments. Such self-promotion can, however, prove counter-productive.

Despite the fact it's commonly understood how a boastful manner can be unattractive to an audience, many people still employ it as a means of self-promotion. This research asks why this is the case. It proposes that people can mistakenly project their own feelings onto their audience, overestimating the extent to which it may also revel in the self-promotion and underestimating the annoyance it may provoke. This may occur when people are limited in emotional perspective taking - the ability to view a situation from another's point of view.

The researchers conducted three experiments to test their proposal and found that when seeking to maximise a favourable view that others will have of them, people engage in excessive self-promotion that has an opposite to the intended effect. Self-promoters are shown to be liked less and despite their efforts they are also not seen as any more competent. Favorable impressions may be better accomplished by modesty or even self-denigration than by outright bragging about one's positive qualities, although across different cultures there may be varying degrees at which high levels of self-promotion will be tolerated.

The research is forthcoming in Psychological Science. A draft version of the paper is available for download below.


{Miscalibrated Predictions of Emotional Responses to Self-Promotion}{}