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Why Self-enhancement Provokes Dislike: The Hubris Hypothesis and the Aversiveness of Explicit Self-superiority Claims

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Most people believe that they are in many respects superior to others. When they publicly express their superiority, they may do so in an explicitly or implicitly comparative manner (“I am better than others” vs. “I am good”). According to the hubris hypothesis, observers dislike explicit self-superiority claims, because these suggest a negative view of others and hence of the observers. The results of two experiments were consistent with the hubris hypothesis. Participants evaluated explicit self-superiority claimants more unfavorably than implicit self-superiority claimants (Experiments 1–2). They attributed less warmth, but not less competence, to explicit than implicit self-superiority claimants (Experiment 2), and this occurred to the extent that participants inferred a negative view of others (Experiments 1–2) and hence of them (Experiment 2).
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Keywords: Self-enhancement; hubris hypothesis; self-presentation; social comparison; superiority

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Social and Cultural Psychology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium 2: Center for Research on Self and Identity, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

Publication date: March 3, 2016

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