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No one likes a humblebragger – you’re better off with a blatant boast, study says

A peacock fans his feathers.
A peacock fans his feathers. File photo

You can’t disguise arrogance, and trying only makes you look worse, a new study says.

People are better off genuinely bragging than they are humblebragging – “bragging masked by a complaint or humility” – according to researchers at Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill. Their work on the topic appeared recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The work consisted of nine studies, documenting humblebragging on social media, in a field experiment and in a weeklong diary.

Researchers showed humblebragging to be “a common, conceptually distinct, and ineffective form of self-presentation.”

The researchers also found both complaint- and humility-based humblebragging to be “less effective than straightforward bragging, as they reduce liking, perceived competence, compliance with requests, and financial generosity.” Despite the intentions behind humblebragging, it is seen as insincere, the report says.

“You think, as the humblebragger, that it’s the best of both worlds, but what we show is that sincerity is actually the key ingredient,” Ovul Sezer, an assistant professor of business at UNC, told Time.

Sezer was a doctoral student at Harvard at the time she and Harvard business professors Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton wrote a research paper on the topic several years ago.

Among the results of their experiments, as featured by Fortune in 2015, were that complainers are more tolerable than braggers, and braggers are more tolerable than humblebraggers.

The study involved more than 1,000 people and 740 tweets, according to Inc.

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