When praising yourself insults others: Self-superiority claims provoke aggression

Abstract

We tested the prediction, derived from the hubris hypothesis, that bragging might serve as a verbal provocation and thus enhance aggression. Experiments 1 and 2 were vignette studies where participants could express hypothetical aggression; Experiment 3 was an actual decision task where participants could make aggressive and/or prosocial choices. Observers disliked an explicit braggart (who claimed to be “better than others”) or a competence braggart as compared with an implicit braggart (who claimed to be “good”) or a warmth braggart, respectively. Showing that explicit and competence bragging function as verbal provocations, observers responded more aggressively to the explicit and competence braggart than to the implicit and warmth braggart, respectively. They did so because they inferred that an explicit and a competence braggart viewed other people and them negatively, and therefore disliked the braggart. Rather than praising the self, braggarts are sometimes viewed as insulting others.

Publication
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 1008-1019.
Date

Reference:

Van Damme, C., Deschrijver, E., Van Geert, E., & Hoorens, V. (2017). When praising yourself insults others: Self-superiority claims provoke aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 1008-1019. doi:10.11770146167217703951