Why do people ‘humblebrag’? © Getty Images

Why do people ‘humblebrag’?

Asked by: Elizabeth Bailey, London

To brag flagrantly is, most of us realise, unbecoming, and so a favoured mitigation tactic has emerged: the ‘humblebrag’. This is a way of masking a boast, either in a feigned complaint or as fake modesty, such as “It’s so exhausting staying in touch with all my friends” or “If someone told me I’d pass with first-class honours, I’d never have believed them”.


Unfortunately for humblebraggers, however, the tactic doesn’t seem to work: it’s just too transparent. In 2018, researchers at the University of North Carolina and Harvard Business School found that humblebraggers are less liked and are perceived as less competent, and that this is due to their methods coming across as insincere.

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