Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Pride

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What are the pros and cons of pride?

Overview[edit | edit source]

This chapter outlines the emotion of pride. Pride is an emotion which stems from a sense of happiness in oneself for achieving a socially favourable outcome (Mascolo & Fischer, 1995). Pride has often been considered to be amoral and even sinful throughout history because of the close association with arrogance and narcissism (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010). This however is more reflective of hubristic pride which appears arrogant and conceited as opposed to authentic pride which is based in confidence and self-esteem (Stanculescu, 2012). There are pros and cons to both types of pride, but one important pro is the motivational role pride plays in task perseverance and performance (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). The experience of pride motivates future achievement in socially valued tasks and behaviours through operant conditioning,[grammar?] people are more likely to engage in future similar behaviours if they experienced positive affect as a reinforcement on a previous behaviour (Williams & DeSteno, 2009). This chapter also explains how pride can be motivating in terms of application in expectancy theory.

But overall, is being proud a good thing? Well yes, being authentically proud exhibits benefits in self-esteem, mental health, motivation, and social status (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). Whereas, hubristically proud often leads people to believe you may be arrogant and distance yourself from people of a lower social value (Tagney & Fischer, 2011)[grammar?].

What is pride?[edit | edit source]

Pride is an emotion, which is generated by the sense that an individual is responsible for a socially favourable outcome (Mascolo & Fischer, 1995). Pride has been described as a "self-conscious emotion", meaning that the experience of pride is secondary to self appraisals (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010). Pride is experienced when people achieve in socially valued tasks,[grammar?] it can be considered as happiness which becomes pride when the credit for the happiness is owing to the individual (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). It is like when you get a good result on an exam you studied really hard for, you feel a sense of happiness not just about the result, but about the effort you put into achieving that outcome (Hart & Matsuba, 2007).

According to [what?] literature there are two socially formed constructs of pride: authentic pride and hubristic pride (Stanculescu, 2012). Authentic pride stems from the idea that your choices and the effort you put into a task is the cause of a good outcome (Stanculescu, 2012). Hubristic pride is not dissimilar to arrogance, in that the individual feels pride because they think they are consistently great at a task (Stanculescu, 2012). Hubristic pride is the type of pride religions and philosophers throughout history have claimed to be amoral (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010). This concept can be considered in terms of confidence (authentic pride) and arrogance (hubristic pride). People who appear arrogant are often more abrasive and arrogance is considered non-virtuous (Tangney & Fischer, 2011).

History of pride[edit | edit source]

Pride generally has been viewed quite negatively throughout history (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010). Religions including Christianity, Judaism, and even aspects of Buddhism suggest that pride is amoral (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010). Philosopher Dante claimed that pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and that pride will ultimately be a persons downfall (Alighieri, 2003). Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said "those who glorify themselves have no merit, those who are proud of themselves do not last" (Tzu, 1997). This gives an idea not only of how polarising pride as an emotion is, but also how many different cultures and religions held negative views on pride through history (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010). People are expected to feel pride, but not be so proud that they appear arrogant, thus there is a fine balance to be maintained (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010).

These religions and individuals are referring to hubristic pride,[grammar?] it wasn't until recently that the two aspects of pride were theorised (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010). Now there is a word for a type of pride which isn't rooted in arrogance, and it is able to be examined in order to demonstrate any benefits or disadvantages it may have (Stanculescu, 2012).

Pride, motivation, and psychological theories:[edit | edit source]

Feelings of pride are pleasurable and subsequently reinforce behaviours which result in pride (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). There are no other emotions that cause a person to feel good about their achievement but also feel good about themselves as a direct result (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). Pride as an emotion motivates people to work harder on achievement based tasks,[grammar?] it encourages people to demonstrate and acquire socially valued abilities (Stanculescu, 2012). In understanding this, it helps to look at theories of motivation.

Expectancy theory[edit | edit source]

One theory of motivation is expectancy theory,[grammar?] this theory states that a motivational force is created when a person believes that:

  1. putting in effort will result in a better performance
  2. that a better performance will lead to a better outcome
  3. the individual finds this outcome to be a reward they value (House, Shapiro, & Wahba, 1974).

Applying pride to this theory of motivation is simple, when you consider pride to be a positive affective state. In expectancy theory pride is the valued reward in criterion 3, that is, the experience of pride is a reward for the effort put in to achieve a favourable performance. This theory helps to explain the process by which pride can be used to motivate an individual. The individual puts more effort into a task because their expectation is that the effort will lead to a better performance which is a direct result of their effort, subsequently feeling proud. This ties in with the earlier example of receiving a good result in an exam, and consequently feeling proud of your achievement, and attributing the valued result directly to the effort applied.


Select an answer and click "Submit":

Which of these is not a factor of expectancy theory?

People put more effort into a task if they believe it will result in better performance
People need to deem the end result/reward as desirable
People need to enjoy doing the task
People believe the amount of effort they put into a task will lead to a favourable outcome

Operant conditioning[edit | edit source]

Another theory to consider is operant conditioning,[grammar?] this is a learning theory and this type of conditioning occurs when an individual is rewarded or punished for a particular behaviour[factual?]. In the case of pride, pride is a positive affective state which acts as a positive reinforcement (or reward) for achieving a desired result. Similar to expectancy theory, the individual continues to perform that behaviour in order to experience the reward again (pride). In operant conditioning people are taught to expect what their previous experiences have yielded. To use the exam results example again, the individual learns that studying for their exam will lead to a better exam result, and achieving a good exam result will make them happy and proud, which makes the studying feel worthwhile.

The pros and cons of pride[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

The pros of pride[edit | edit source]

In terms of social value, those who experience pride frequently are often viewed as more socially dominant or of higher social status (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). Additionally, pride is associated with greater self-worth and has subsequently been linked to a lack of depression, the theory being that feelings of being socially valued could be a protective factor against depression (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). As mentioned above, pride plays a role in motivation which can lead people to excel in diverse areas in their lives, including in their career. In a study on sales persons, it was found that salesmen who felt pride in response to successes in their work, demonstrated not only an increase in motivation towards future success and productivity, but also they exerted more effort at work (Verbeke, Belschak, & Bagozzi, 2004). Increasing peoples motivations to become more successful benefits the individual socially and psychologically[factual?]. This demonstrates that experiencing pride leads to an increase in effort on tasks, which results in better performance, ultimately leading to an increase in self-worth because they feel like they are socially valued.

The cons of pride[edit | edit source]

Religious views on pride have impacted the societal value of pride. The negative interpretation of pride is mainly about hubristic pride, and peoples failure to place value in authentic pride (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). Hubristic pride is associated with narcissism and arrogance which are not socially desirable qualities, therefore people who experience greater hubristic pride would be less likely to be regarded positively by society (Stanculescu, 2012). As mentioned above, being socially valued significantly contributes to self-esteem and self-worth which plays a protective role in depression and anxiety, hence why hubristic pride can be considered to have a negative impact on a persons day to day life (Tangney & Fischer, 2011)

One study found that greater levels of pride tended to promote a sense of similarity[say what?] with ‘strong’ but not ‘weak’ others, suggesting that pride may cause a reduction in compassion towards people in need (Tagney & Fischer, 2011). Lack of compassion and empathy are often viewed as negative traits by society and a persons social status and relationships could potentially suffer because of this.

Quiz question[edit | edit source]

Select an answer and click "Submit":

Which of these can be considered a con of pride?

Being viewed as narcissistic or arrogant by society.
Having a greater sense of self worth.
Experiencing greater pride could lead to increased effort on a variety of tasks

Criticisms of current literature[edit | edit source]

One of the big issues with assessing secondary emotions like pride and guilt, is that they are often very covert (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). Therefore there is a tendency to rely on self-report in feelings of pride. A problem with the history of perceptions of pride being so negative is that people often feel ashamed or embarrassed to report that they feel proud - this may influence the results of studies reliant on self-report (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010).

Further, emotions are typically experienced on a spectrum, that is, that there are differing degrees or amounts of pride dependent on a wide number of variables. Does moderate pride only lead to moderate incentive to achieve again? Is more significant pride likely to encourage greater future motivation than only moderate pride?

Conclusion:[edit | edit source]

Ultimately pride can be considered to be a strong motivating force as demonstrated within the constructs of expectancy theory. Understanding how pride motivates behaviours is important to utilising aspects of pride to enhance peoples everyday lives. Not only is pride important in motivation for achievement based tasks and jobs, but it has also been suggested to be a protective factor against depression (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). Further to this point there is a growing and substantial amount of research which suggests that pride helps maintain and promote self-worth and a persons social status (Tangney & Fischer, 2011). Motivating people to achieve results they deem valuable is something that should be maximised, and feeling pride does this. The more goals and tasks a person achieves can ultimately bolster their self-esteem. Pride also helps people to be more productive.

While there are downsides to experiencing pride, they are largely related to hubristic pride which is based in arrogance (Stanculescu, 2012). Regardless, "true" pride or authentic pride (which holds most of the benefits of pride) is largely experienced covertly, so societal impressions of a persons experience of authentic pride is not often as much of an issue as with hubristic pride.

To summarise, historical interpretations of pride (now known to be hubristic pride) have claimed that pride can be a persons downfall (Alighieri, 2003). We now know there is a more positive form of pride (authentic pride) which is experienced largely internally and has many positive impacts on motivation, self-esteem, and mental health.

References[edit | edit source]

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Alighieri, D. (2003). The divine comedy (J. Ciardi, Trans.). New York: New American Library

Hart, D., & Matsuba, M. K. (2007). The development of pride and moral life. The selfconscious emotions: Theory and research, 114-133 

Mascolo, M. F., & Fischer, K. W. (1995). Developmental transformation in appraisals for pride, shame, and guilt. In J. P. Tangney & K. W. Fischer (Eds.),

Self-conscious emotions: Shame, guilt, embarrassment, and pride (pp. 64-113). New York: Guilford Press.

Ross, M., Heine, S. J., Wilson, A. E., & Sugimori, S. (2005). Cross-cultural discrepancies in self appraisals.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1175-1188.

Stanculescu, E. (2012). The self-conscious emotion of pride as mediator between selfesteem and positive affect. Procedia - Social and Behavioral

Sciences, 33, 263-267.

Tangney, J. P., & Fischer, K. W. (Eds.). (2011). Self-conscious emotions: The psychology of shame, guilt, embarrassment, and pride (rev. ed.). Handbook

of self and identity. New York: Guilford Press

Tzu, L. (1997). Tao Te Ching, 25th anniversary edition (G.F. Feng & J. English, Trans.). New York: Vintage.

Verbeke, W., Belschak, F., & Bagozzi, R. P. (2004). The adaptive consequences of pride in personal

selling. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 32, 386-402.

Williams, L. A., & DeSteno, D. (2009). Pride: Adaptive social emotion or seventh sin? Psychological Science, 20(3), 284-288.