Harvard Study Says Humblebragging Is Useless, So Maybe Just Regular-Brag Instead

It's so exhausting being awesome.

humblebrag harvard

Greg Brady, a great regular-bragger. | Image via Youtube

People know by now that it’s really hard being an awesome, impressive human being. How on Earth does one project his or her own importance without coming off as pretentious as he or she actually is? Humblebragging is of course the way to do that, a mere way of combining boasting with griping while also annoying everyone else around you. Ugh, my private driver took me to the wrong country club, so I was forced to play golf with Mark Wahlberg instead of Tom Brady. (I don’t know what kind of person would be in that situation, but you get it.)

Celebrities in particular (as they are the most majestic types within our species) are particularly good at it. Take Taylor Swift, noted queen of the humblebrag:


As lame as humblebrags are, it also turns out that they’re just as ineffective. According to a paper written by a research team from Harvard Business School, humblebragging comes off as false authenticity.

The study asked about 300 people to rate how much they liked a hypothetical person based on three statements: “I am so bored,” “People mistake me for a model,” and “I am so bored of people mistaking me for a model.” The participants in the study say they like complainers the most—perhaps because misery loves company?—then regular-braggers, then humblebraggers.

The researchers write:

While people humblebrag to make a good impression on others without appearing vain, we suggest that humblebragging frequently fails. In fact, because observers find the strategy insincere, humblebraggers are less likeable than those who straightforwardly brag – or even those who simply complain.

What’s a humblebragger to do, then? Well, try being a regular old bragger, the researchers suggest. They claim, “Faced with the choice to (honestly) brag or (deceptively) humblebrag, would-be self-promoters should choose the former – and at least reap the rewards of seeming sincere.”

There you have it, influential citizens. Reap your blessings shamelessly.