Better to brag: Underestimating the risks of avoiding positive self-disclosures in close relationships

Todd Chan, Zachary A. Reese, Oscar Ybarra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Capitalization, or disclosing positive news in close relationships, is interpersonally and intrapersonally beneficial and expected by relational partners. Why do some individuals avoid capitalizing? How do close relational partners react when they later discover that positive news was not directly disclosed to them?. Method: We conducted nine correlational and experimental studies using vignettes and recalled events (N = 2,177). Results: We find that individuals who are concerned about being seen as braggarts tend to avoid capitalizing with their close relationships even when it is likely their partner would ultimately learn of the news. Yet this concern may be relatively unwarranted and these individuals show a forecasting error: They overestimate how negatively their partner would react to disclosure and predict that their partner would react more positively if they discovered the news through external means. However,they neglect to predict that partners who later learn of the news and realize they were not disclosed toward in fact feel devalued. We discuss how this concern with bragging is linked to decreased extraversion, perspective taking, and empathy. Conclusions: Uniquely in close relationships, being concerned about bragging may elicit negative relational outcomes, by hindering the positive self-disclosures that one's partners expect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1044-1061
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • bragging
  • capitalization
  • close relationships
  • self-disclosure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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