Regular users will have come across the occasional “humblebrag” post on social media but scientists say showing false modesty is actually far less effective than self promotion.
Researchers in the US have found that humblebragging, which is defined as “bragging masked by a complaint or humility”, comes in two distinct types – complaint-based and humility-based.
Somebody obviously told people I was there as a load of kids were waiting for my autograph afterwards! #embarrassing— michael owen (@themichaelowen) February 7, 2012
Just won GQ style award in Germany. Obviously they made a mistake. I wonder how long till they come take it back. ;) #andthewinnerisWHOOPS!— JARED LETO (@JaredLeto) October 28, 2011
The team from the universities of Harvard and North Carolina Chapel Hill conducted nine studies – which included a week-long diary study and a field experiment.
Of the 646 people surveyed, 70% of them were found to have come across a humblebrag recently.
They also found humblebragging to be less effective than regular bragging.
The team wrote: “We first document the ubiquity of humblebragging across several domains, from everyday life to social media.
Apple, I'm so sorry I broke your App Store!!!— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 21, 2015
“We then show that both forms of humblebragging – complaint-based or humility-based – are less effective than straightforward bragging, as they reduce liking, perceived competence, compliance with requests, and financial generosity.
“Despite the belief that combining bragging with complaining or humility confers the benefits of each strategy, we find that humblebragging confers the benefits of neither, instead backfiring because it is seen as insincere.”
Study author Ovul Sezer, of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, told Time magazine: “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.
Totally walked down the wrong escalator at the airport from the flashes of the cameras... Go me— J O E J O N A S (@joejonas) December 30, 2010
“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.
“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.”
The findings are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.