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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 19-Nov-10


Friday 19-November-10

Successful bragging

Do you like to show off? Maybe just a little. Of course you do. Modesty may make us reticent but when we succeed, it is always nice to hear others say kind things. However, bragging, boasting and generally tooting your own trumpet is a tricky game as it is very easy to create jealousy and annoyance rather than admiration and praise.

The good news is that researcher Nurit Tal-Or has uncovered a secret or two about how to impress people without irritating them, which can make this a more reliable tool for changing minds. Students who talked about their good results were considered less boastful when the subject of exams was brought up by others rather than by themselves.

The lesson is clear: if you want to impress, you need first to get the other person to bring up the subject. The question therefore becomes one of how to do this without seeming to be manipulative, and in a way that will get the best emotional response. For example the student with great results may ask how another student is getting on. If the other student is doing well then the first student can say 'Me too'. If the other student is doing badly then the first student cannot mention their own results unless explicitly asked, then must do it very modestly.

Tal-Or, N. (2010). Bragging in the right context: Impressions formed of self-promoters who create a context for their boasts. Social Influence, 5 (1), 23-39

Your comments

I think Self promoters can be amusing. After being part of different projects with different groups of people I learned that self promoters are not "very productive" as well.

Staying focused on your tasks and doing your best to be a pleasant person with everyone are effortless self promotions.

On the other hand self promotion to increase business is a must and the only way to grow.

-- Dione

Dave replies:
It's always interesting to ask why people are promoting themselves. It can be for deep psychological reasons including feelings of inadequacy that come from childhood oppression. Another question is how ethically they do this, particularly the extent to which they will push others down to position themselves as (relatively) superior.

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