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Are People Fooled by “Humblebragging"?

Don’t you just hate that narcissistic fellow who is always bragging about how wonderful he is? Well, a 2018 study conducted by researchers at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that we detest “humblebragging” even more. Humblebraggers are those insincere people who cloak bragging around faux complaints, or fake humility, such as “I find it difficult to take breaks from my desk because I’m such a hard worker.” The researchers found that humblebragging is prevalent in society, and that instead of self-promotion, it actually achieves the opposite result. People are inclined to think more favorably of honest boasting than the fake humility associated with humblebragging.

Bragging rights and wrongs:

  • The researchers found that the most common humblebrags are about being a perfectionist, working too hard, being too nice and helpful, or being too fair and honest.

  • You’ll find humblebragging all over social media. For example, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer tweeted: “They just announced my flight at LaGuardia is number 15 for takeoff. I miss Air Force One!!”

  • Or listen to English actor and comedian Stephen Fry, who posted: “Oh dear. Don’t know what to do at the airport. Huge crowd, but I’ll miss my plane if I stop and do photos … oh dear don’t want to disappoint.”

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