Enough with your false modesty, we can see through that crap.
According to a new study from researchers at Harvard and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, humblebragging — defined as “bragging masked by a complaint or humility” — actually makes people dislike you more than just straight-up self-promotion.
“It’s such a common phenomenon. All of us know some people in our lives, whether in social media or in the workplace, who do this annoying thing,” says study author Ovul Sezer, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. “You think, as the humblebragger, that it’s the best of both worlds, but what we show is that sincerity is actually the key ingredient.”
Together with her team, they looked into how common humblebragging is and what people thinks of it. And perhaps unsurprisingly, results showed that it's everywhere! 70% of 646 participants said they could remember a humblebrag they’d heard recently.
Moreover, researchers categorized humblebrags into two: complaint (“I hate that I look so young; even a 19-year-old hit on me!”) and humility (“Why do I always get asked to work on the most important assignment?”). And about 60% of those humblebrags recalled are from the complaint category.
With this, researchers then looked into the people's response to humblebrags, specifically on people's perception on the bragger's likability and competence. And guess what? You better start outright bragging for this was better than both counts. Even those who complain so much are more likeable and are perceived to be more competent than humblebraggers of any type! This could be due to that these peopleat least comes off as genuine, Sezer says.
“If you want to announce something, go with the brag and at least own your self-promotion and reap the rewards of being sincere, rather than losing in all dimensions,” Sezer says. Or just have a close “wingman” do the boasting for you. “If someone brags for you, that’s the best thing that can happen to you, because then you don’t seem like you’re bragging,” Sezer says.
Nonetheless, just try to not get too affected when somebody humblebrags because hey, you may not just realize it but you've done it at some point. “We all do it, to some extent,” Sezer says. “I hope I don’t sound like I’m humblebragging when I talk about this research.”
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