Working on a big team project? Find the coworker that loves to brag.
Findings from a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggest that pride isn’t all that bad.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, examined the effect of self-worth on performance in collaborative tasks.
First, participants were assigned essay topics: One group wrote about a time they felt proud of themselves, while the other wrote about a fun memory. A control group did neither.
They were then asked to play a fishing game, where they caught 13 to 17 fish for every 60 attempts. They were led to believe this was a team effort–that another person was fishing in their “pond,” also trying to land as many fish as possible. The catch: If the pond was over-fished, both players would lose everything.
You’d think the confidence-boosted essayist would hoard as many fish as they could, regardless of consequence, right?
Surprisingly, the participants who wrote about a pride-filled anecdote threw back more fish, to avoid depleting the population too much. Those who wrote about a joyful time returned no more or less than the control group.
Pride, we’re taught to believe, is a negative emotion–preceding a fall, if the adage holds–and a self-confident person is seen as oil in water when it comes to teamwork. Humility is lauded as the better personality trait. This study’s experiment show the opposite: Give people something to boast about, and the emotion can be a positive force.
You might not want “Mr. Wonderful”-level arrogance on your team, but a little self-confidence is a good thing. Teammates can brag on their ability to succeed together.
Hat tip: Pacific Standard