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What ‘Humblebragging’ Reveals About A Person

What ‘Humblebragging’ Reveals About A Person post image

“Humblebragging” is wrapping up a brag in a complaint or false humility.

People hate ‘humblebragging’ even more than unadorned boasting, a new study finds.

Humblebragging is when a person brags about something, but wraps it up as a complaint or false humility to try and hide the brag.

Humblebraggers were less liked and less trusted than others, the research found.

Here are two examples of humblebragging culled by the researchers from social media:

“Hair’s not done, just rolled out of bed from a nap and still get hit on, so confusing!”


“Graduating from 2 universities means you get double the calls asking for money/donations.

So pushy and annoying!”

It is better to just boast, as the study’s authors explain:

“…humblebragging is less effective than simply complaining, because complainers are at least seen as sincere.

Despite people’s belief that combining bragging and complaining confers the benefits of both self-promotion strategies, humblebragging fails to pay off.”

Humblebragging is common because people want to show off their achievements, but don’t want to appear full of themselves.

Unfortunately, across the nine studies the researchers carried out, people saw right through it.

The study looked at humblebragging on social media and in the real world.

The most irritating kind of humblebragging is when it involves false humility.

For example:

“Why do I always get asked to the dance by so many guys?”

However, most people admitted humblebragging at one time or another.

The study’s authors conclude:

“The proliferation of humblebragging in social media and everyday life suggests that people believe it an effective self-promotional strategy.

Yet, our results show, people readily denigrate humblebraggers.

Faced with the choice to (honestly) brag or (deceptively) humblebrag, would-be self-promoters should choose the former – and at least reap the rewards of seeming

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:

Dr Dean’s bio, Twitter, Facebook and how to contact him.

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Sezer et al., 2018).