Why are people who humblebrag so annoying? © Dan Bright

Why are people who humblebrag so annoying?

Published: 09th August, 2022 at 08:30
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Complaining about an achievement or using false modesty can make you seem insincere.

The definitive research on the topic remains a 2018 paper by psychologists at the University of North Carolina and Harvard Business School.


They identified that there are two types of humblebragger and that the most annoying kind is the complain-bragger. They say things like, “I never have time for myself because my friends want to see me all the time.”

Only marginally less annoying is the humblebragger who deploys false modesty, such as: “I don’t understand why I keep getting hit on”.

Both kinds of humblebragger are seen as less likeable and competent than more straightforward self-promoters, and the key reason is that their complaints and modesty come over as totally fake.

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Asked by: Lily Williams, London


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Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.


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