Why Your Humblebragging Doesn't Even Work

Illustrated by Emily Turner.
Even if it's good for you, we're not big fans of complaining. But, according to new research, complainers are apparently less awful than braggers and humblebraggers, reports Science of Us.

The paper, published last week by a group of researchers at Harvard Business School, used a series of five studies to look at how humblebragging actually works. The exemplar "humblebrag" in the second study was the statement "I am so bored of people mistaking me for a model." The study's 302 participants reviewed that sentence along with a simple brag ("People mistake me for a model") or a complaint ("I am so bored"). All statements were rated for sincerity, credibility, and likability.

Results showed that the humblebraggers were the least liked, followed by the braggers and then the complainers. But, all were still firmly in the "disliked" camp. So, while complainers weren't necesarily liked, they were the least least-liked out of all three groups. They were also rated as being the most sincere, a trait that the study authors speculate was fueling the complainers' likability. Compared to other Internet personalities, that's not half bad!

The other studies described in the paper concentrate more fully on humblebragging, a term coined by the late Harris Wittels. Overall, results suggest that adding a humble kick to any brag tends to do more harm than good, especially because it's so clearly a self-promotional strategy. In fact, participants rated humblebrags and humblebraggers as less likable, sincere, and competent than those who simply bragged. So, even if you hate complainers, you may still appreciate their honesty. 
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