Tuesday, April 7, 2009

should pride go into your speaker toolkit?

Today's New York Times science section looks at times when pride becomes a useful emotion, rather than 'going before a fall.' Here's what I gleaned from the article that may be useful in your speaker's toolkit:
  • Pride can help you thrive in a tough spot: The article quotes David DeSteno, a psychologist at Northeastern University: “...we are finding that pride is centrally important not just for surviving physical danger but for thriving in difficult social circumstances, in ways that are not at all obvious.” Psychologists suggest you make this a "social strategy" you use when facing such situations, which might include your next speech.
  • Pride sends a strong, nearly universal signal to your audience: Despite other differences in how audiences in different cultures view body language, such as eye contact, the look of pride is remarkably consistent across cultures, the article notes. It also conveys power. Psychologist Jessica L. Tracy of the University of British Columbia, who's studied this effect, notes, "It’s the strongest status signal we know of among the emotions; stronger than a happy expression, contentment, anything.” Your viewers will associate a look of pride with higher status and importance.
  • Pride is catching--in you and with your audience: The article describes experiments in which participants were praised and encouraged. They reported feeling proud, and others interacting with them ranked them as more likeable and dominant in a group exercise. The researchers note that this didn't come off as arrogance, an important detail if you're concerned about looking too full of yourself. A little pride, apparently, goes a long way.

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