What is the Christian view of pride

The psychology of pride

When the next soccer World Cup takes place, with all the hustle and bustle, please pay attention to a fine but striking detail: the choice of words used to comment on the outcome of the game. If the German team has won, many fans are sure to cheer with swelling chests: "We swept the opponent off the pitch!" Even though they hardly contributed to it themselves. In the event of a defeat, on the other hand, people often say soberly: "But the boys were embarrassed." People like to adorn themselves with the successes of others, but in a defeat they prefer to distance themselves. A well-known phenomenon. “We are Pope!” Proclaimed the “Bild”, for example, in 2005. Strictly speaking, at that time the conclave only elected one person for the high office, Pope Benedict XVI. namely. The physicist Albert Einstein jokingly remarked in a speech in 1922: “If I am right with my theory of relativity, the Germans will say I am German and the French that I am a citizen of the world. If my theory turns out to be wrong, the French will say that I am German and the Germans that I am a Jew. "

This effect is called "basking in reflected glory," something like basking in someone else's success. As proof of this, the psychologist Robert Cialdini presented several "(football) field studies", as he called them, in 1976 - the experiments have now become a classic in social psychology. Almost 200 students took part in what was supposed to be a telephone survey that included a knowledge test. After six questions, the test subjects received feedback on how often they were correct. However, this was completely arbitrary: according to the principle of chance, the test managers reported either an excellent or a miserable performance. The minor intervention had a measurable impact on the participants' self-esteem. Afterwards, they were supposed to describe the last match of the football team at their university - that was also supposedly part of the knowledge test. In the evaluation, Cialdini's working group was only interested in the words used by the participants to describe the outcome of the game. If they lulled themselves into the belief that they had failed the knowledge test, they used the word "we" more often when they meant the university's own team - apparently the victory of their reference group consoled them over the (apparent) personal failure. Which pronoun they used also depended on the team's performance: after winning a match, the test subjects ennobled the team's performance with a "we" more often than after a defeat.

Good pride - bad pride
  1. Pride can manifest itself in very different ways. Sometimes we are proud of our own performance, sometimes that of others - and sometimes even of things like our country of origin.

  2. Because pride can affect us both positively and negatively, some researchers distinguish two forms of emotion: authentic pride and arrogant pride.

  3. While authentic pride motivates us and can spur us on to better performance, arrogant pride is associated with narcissism and envy.

This article is featured in Spectrum Compact, The 7 Deadly Sins - Dark Facets of Our Character

The research duo Alessandro Salice and Alba Sánchez called this phenomenon hetero-induced pride in a current study - 40 years after Cialdini's much-cited study. It is true that it is not a very own achievement that we are proud of in such cases - but according to the theory of social identity, we also have a social ego in addition to our personal ego. This leads to the fact that we occasionally adorn ourselves with strange feathers. "It is yourself as a member of a group that you are proud of," Salice and Sánchez explain this feeling.

The queen of all vices

Pride is an elusive phenomenon. Also because it occurs in so diverse forms: Sometimes we are proud of our own achievements, sometimes of those of others, which we then post as our own thanks to this cognitive trick. Some people are even proud of things that are completely beyond their sphere of influence, such as their ethnicity or their country of origin. This kind of pride can have nasty consequences. Excessive national pride can fuel wars - think of the exuberant patriotism of many European countries on the eve of the First World War. Traditional Christian doctrine even elevates "superbia" (which can be translated as "arrogance" or "pride") to the queen of all deadly sins, from which all other vices would result. According to the ancient Doctor of the Church Augustine (354-430), proud man, like fallen angels, would turn away from God and rebel against him.

Series "The Seven Deadly Sins"

Pride, avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, indolence - these are the seven deadly sins in Christian doctrine. The term "mortal sin" is basically misleading because it actually refers to seven vices that make people sinners in the first place. On »Spektrum.de« we present all seven deadly sins from a scientific point of view.

Part 1: can we be proud?

Correspondingly, proud people are said to have a typical posture: the head boldly turned towards the sky, the chest stretched forward. Psychological research also supports this finding empirically. However, people do not express pride in the same way all over the world. Together with her colleagues, the Dutch researcher Yvette van Osch examined the posture and facial expressions of Chinese and American professional athletes at important competitions. To do this, test subjects were asked to look at photos of the athletes and then evaluate their emotional expression - without knowing what kind of competition it was. In photos of the winners from the Olympic Games, the participants could hardly see any differences. The expression that is so typical of pride was seen in the same way among Chinese and American medalists. The situation was different at the national competitions: Here only the US athletes showed clear pride, comparable to those of Olympic champions. The Chinese athletes were noticeably reluctant to participate in national competitions - they expressed their pride much less than at the Olympic Games.

The author's summary: On the one hand, pride is a universal emotion that can be found in numerous cultures. But their exact form depends heavily on socialization and societal norms. For example, many Asian cultures uphold harmony within the community - which is why it is not right to show one's own pride too much in a competition against compatriots. In an international competition like the Olympics, however, this phenomenon took a back seat - here the medalists from both countries apparently swelled their chests to the same extent.