The Psychology of Pride and Its Positive Side

The Psychology of Pride and Its Positive Side

Pride as a Positive Emotion

Positive psychology formulates pride as a positive emotion. Yet pride is not a constructively portrayed emotion among individuals. Pride is regarded as a manifestation of ego and hubris. In previous research, pride is often considered a selfish emotion and thus is stigmatized in society attributing an egotistic and arrogant personality to those who are high on pride. Thus individuals tend to suppress their pride emotion in order to be included and accepted among others. Psychological research also seems to ignore pride as a matter of study due to these cultural stereotypes. People fundamentally see pride as a positive emotion that strongly influences our self-esteem and positive outlook.

What is Pride?

As explained by Lewin in his cognitive appraisal theory, an individual feels pride whenever he or she believes that their performance has exceeded their goals and expectations as well as met a certain standard of excellence. Pride is classified into authentic and hubristic types. Authentic pride boosts self-confidence, while narcissistic traits are associated with hubristic pride. This article is an attempt to identify the major outcomes of authentic pride in one’s own accomplishments and its association with overall psychological well-being.

Pride as a Motivator

A study conducted in 2008 by Williams and Desteno proved that pride can act as a motivator in sustaining our perseverance. Pride can act as an excellent goal directing emotion and thus encourage us to stick to our tasks and to overcome any challenges faced in between. Pride also has a significant influence on social anxiety. Cohen and Huppert in 2018 identified that pride is negatively correlated with social anxiety and has more impact than global positive affect. In 2000, Gilbert proved that feeling pride in achievements decreases social anxiety even in depressed individuals. Pride can also reduce inferiority feelings in such individuals.


Thus depression tends to lower with increased pride. However, the research also indicated that depressed individuals tend to attribute their success to external sources and feel inferior to themselves. They are afraid of pride because of fear of social isolation. They also might be apprehensive about the future and fear of failure might deflate their pride.

Self Awareness

Thus the research suggests that boosting one’s perceptions about social status is necessary in such instances. Pride can also increase our self-respect and thereby reduce any kind of shame or guilt associated with life experiences. Since shame and guilt are potential unconscious triggers of many psychological issues, pride can positively impact our mental health.

Social Acceptance

Saito et al. found, in their 2019 research, that pride positively influenced the impression formation of others, including ratings of their competence and attractiveness. Apart from self-awareness, this study revealed the broader impact of pride on social perceptions.

Thus pride could play a crucial role in awareness and acceptance not only of oneself but also of others. Research has also studied how pride can influence one’s group identification.

Salice and Sanchez in 2016 pointed out that we feel and express pride based on how our community perceives it as an emotion. Also, our collectivistic orientation makes pride a hetero-induced emotion. Apart from one’s own achievements,  we often feel pride for the accomplishment of someone dear to us as well.

Pride Perceived as a Negative Emotion

The majority of people feel inferior and worthless because they don’t accept themselves. It is thus necessary to realise our own potential and find confidence in ourselves. It is this lack of pride that makes many of us withdrawn and afraid to take up obligations. On the other hand, there are few people who though feel pride in themselves are scared to express their emotions. Society ostracizes and labels individuals as boastful if they talk about their own achievements.

It has even become ornamental among laymen to diagnose them with narcissistic symptoms. People often believe it’s morally wrong to feel or express pride in oneself, acting as if they’re indifferent to their achievements. Lack of pride in both these instances can bring down one’s self-esteem and feelings of worthiness. 

Thus absence of pride, if not regulated, can lead to depression, social phobia, and other such emotional problems in one’s social life. Furthermore, research by Stanculescu in 2012 revealed that authentic pride have a mediating effect on self-esteem and positive affect and thus boosting pride, especially among students, is necessary to inflate their self-awareness, self-acceptance, goal-directed satisfaction, and overall subjective well-being.


However, the positive and negative aspects of pride are still debatable in the research fraternity, leaving a huge gap for further exploration. As mentioned earlier, individuals fear social exclusion and refrain from expressing pride due to cultural constraints. Also if not controlled and used to exploit others with self self-inflated superiority complex and narcissism, pride can be hubris as well. Thus to what extent is pride a positive emotion and what manifests it as a negative emotion is still an open question in psychology.

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