November 18, 2016

Who WOULDN’T be proud of those awesome feathers? Credit: Danny Perez Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

What does it mean to be proud? Is it a good thing that gives you an incentive to accomplish? Or is there something sinister about it? After all, pride is one of the seven deadly sins. We weren’t too proud to talk to Jessica Tracy about the science of this powerful emotion. She’s the author of Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success.

Three Takeaways:

  • Tracy views pride as an intrinsic human emotion, like anger or sadness. She thinks that pride probably evolved to serve a social role, as a way to maintain status in a group or a tribe. There is definitely a good side to pride. It motivates us to do things like run a marathon or create art. 
  • According to Tracy, “Things that are painful, tedious, difficult, not particularly exciting, but that people do despite the pain, I think the only way we can explain [people doing them] is this desire to feel good about the self.” In other words, pride. 
  • As for being one of the seven deadly sins? Tracy thinks there are two types of pride: authentic pride and hubristic pride. Authentic pride is what motivates people to achieve, to stand out, whereas hubristic pride is the sense of arrogance and conceitedness, the desire to dominate.

More Reading:

NPR, Jessica Tracy, innovation hub, Kara Miller, WGBH, pri

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