Self-praise: Show off our strengths

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Robert Maurer
@robertmaurer
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Self-praise: Show off our strengths

We need to show our positives, our skills and our abilities. This is a normal, adaptive behavior that we should all be doing.

Last update: January 18, 2021

Self-praise is one of the three motivations associated with ego evaluation, a motivation that allows us to maintain a positive idea of ​​ourselves. Thus, while we respond to the need to preserve a positive image of ourselves, we also strive to show it to others. Sometimes we do it consciously and explicitly, but in many cases we are not aware of it.



If a person's image is damaged or hurt in some way, they may want to redeem it. Thus, one of the most natural responses can be self-praise as a tool to try to compensate or minimize negative aspects.

Even when our image is not damaged, we feel the need to show off our strengths and abilities. This inclination is not pathological nor does it compromise our adaptation to the surrounding circumstance; this as long as it does not break the balance and turn into a problem or a need that hides a more serious problem.

Reports in the workplace or at the university are a clear example of this, when excessive self-praise can be a symptom of low self-esteem.

L'autoelogio ei bias

There is a tendency to give causal explanations for one's successes or failures. It may be that as we grow up we stop constantly asking ourselves “Why ..?”, But this does not mean that the causes or reasons that favored the events no longer interest us. On the other hand, we often attribute the achievements to our personal characteristics (self-praising attributions).

Conversely, and with the exception of specific emotional states that make us tend to the contrary, it is not uncommon to attribute the responsibility for our failures to external causes, such as bad luck or the intervention of third parties. These are self-protective attributions.



Certainly motivational self-praise behavior presents cognitive distortions of different nature, which is good to know in order to be able to identify them, especially in oneself. We're about to find out, but we'll do a little test first.

A short test

      Situation                                      Compared to other people like me, the fact is

1. Failing an exam
  1. More likely to happen to others.
  2. Likely to happen to me as much as it does to others.
  3. More likely to happen to me.
2. Trying to acquire a new skill (cooking, playing sports, learning to play a musical instrument)
  1. More likely to happen to others.
  2. Likely to happen to me as much as it does to others.
  3. More likely to happen to me.
3. Missing an important appointment due to forgetfulness
  1. More likely to happen to others.
  2. Likely to happen to me as much as it does to others.
  3. More likely to happen to me.
4. Losing contact with a good old friend
  1. More likely to happen to others.
  2. Likely to happen to me as much as it does to others
  3. More likely to happen to me.
5. In a large group (with more than 5 people) make a funny comment that makes everyone laugh
  1. More likely to happen to others.
  2. Likely to happen to me as much as it does to others
  3. More likely to happen to me.
6. Let someone complain about your behavior
  1. More likely to happen to others.
  2. Likely to happen to me as much as it does to others.
  3. More likely to happen to me.
7. Make a new acquaintance with which a long friendship will be born
  1. More likely to happen to others.
  2. Likely to happen to me as much as it does to others
  3. More likely to happen to me.
8. Feeling great euphoria over achieving a goal or accomplishing something
  1. More likely to happen to others.
  2. Likely to happen to me as much as it does to others
  3. More likely to happen to me.

Results

All 1 = -1; or all 2 = 0; all 3 = -1



To get the average score according to the negative and positive events, the scores of all negative items (1,3,4,6) will be added and the result will be divided by four. Similarly, we need to add the positive ones (2,5,7,8) and divide by four.

For negative events: if the average is greater than zero, it indicates the existence of pessimistic distortions; if the mean is less than zero, it indicates the existence of optimistic bias.

For positive events: if the average exceeds zero, then it indicates the existence of optimistic distortions; if the average is less than zero, it indicates the existence of pessimistic distortions.

NB: the exposure and score of this test have no diagnostic value. They have a purely expository value and their inclusion in the article has the sole purpose of promoting a greater compression of the concepts dealt with.

The favorable interpretation of the ego

A favorable interpretation of the ego performs an adaptive function, although it may be more or less distorted. Distortions are sometimes necessary to protect the ego itself, therefore to curb anxiety. Like this, it is interesting to ask how many of these distortions can be recognized in oneself and to what extent.

Knowing the traits of self-praise and trying to spot them in yourself or others helps manage stress and can even be fun.


Some believe that psychology has recognized more phenomena than there are. Seriously, of course very often the dynamics described go completely unnoticed until we see them defined in black and white. And this is exactly what the game consists of, recognizing them. The most common self-praise cognitive biases (or biases) are:

  • The false singularity. That is the systematic tendency to think that our abilities and capabilities are very different from those of any other mortal.
  • False consent. We usually overestimate how much most people really agree with our ideas. How many times have we said “let's ask an expert or a neutral person” and were we surprised by the answer?

Other cognitive distortions of self-praise:

  • In effect "first among equals" it is very curious and more common than we might think. It is the tendency to believe that we are superior or better than our peers. And that's why, for example, most motorists think they drive better or commit fewer offenses than the average.
  • Pluralistic ignorance. Dynamic that makes us repress or give up expressing our opinion or our feelings because we think they are not acceptable to most. This distortion comes from overestimating our intuition abilities.
  • Illusion of invulnerability. It comes into play when we underestimate the odds of something unpleasant happening to us.

In search of our distinctive features

Self-esteem is the feeling that a person has for himself. It affects the way we treat ourselves and the idea we have of ourselves. It encompasses the emotional state that derives from the concept of self.


We remember that we often give more weight to what is difficult to find, which distinguishes us from the rest, even when it is not a particularly relevant element.

Thus, when we think that the most appreciated personal characteristics, those that represent the backbone of the definition of oneself, are common in others, a greater dose of negativity takes over in that emotional state called self-esteem.

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