The Hubris Hypothesis: You Can Self-Enhance, but You’d Better not Show It
Hoorens, Vera × Pandelaere, Mario Oldersma, Frans Sedikides, Constantine #
Journal of Personality vol:80 issue:5 pages:1237-1275
We tested whether and why observers dislike individuals who convey self-superiority through blatant social comparison (the hubris hypothesis). Participants read self-superiority claims (“I am better than others”, Experiments 1-7), noncomparative positive claims (“I am good;” Experiments 1-2, 4), self-equality claims (“I am as good as others;” Experiments 3-4, 6), temporally comparative self-superiority claims (“I am better than I used to be;” Experiment 5), other-superiority claims (“S/he is better than others;” Experiment 6), and self-superiority claims accompanied by persistent disclaimers (Experiment 7). They judged the claim and the claimant (Experiments 1-7) and made inferences about the claimant’s self-view and view of others (Experiments 4-7) as well as the claimant’s probable view of them (Experiment 7). Self-superiority claims elicited unfavorable evaluations relative to all other claims. Evaluation unfavorability was accounted for by the perception that the claimant implied a negative view of others (Experiments 4-6) and particularly of the observer (Experiment 7). Supporting the hubris hypothesis, participants disliked individuals who communicated self-superiority beliefs in an explicitly comparative manner. This implies that self-superiority beliefs may provoke undesirable interpersonal consequences when they are explicitly communicated to others, but not when they are disguised as noncomparative positive self-claims or self-improvement claims.