Pride, personality, and the evolutionary foundations of human social status

Joey T. Cheng, Jessica L. Tracy, Joseph Henrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on evolutionary logic, Henrich and Gil-White [Evolution and Human Behavior, 22(3), 165-196] distinguished between two routes to attaining social status in human societies: dominance, based on intimidation, and prestige, based on the possession of skills or expertise. Independently, emotion researchers Tracy and Robins [Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(3), 506-525] demonstrated two distinct forms of pride: hubristic and authentic. Bridging these two lines of research, this paper examines whether hubristic and authentic pride, respectively, may be part of the affective-motivational suite of psychological adaptations underpinning the status-obtaining strategies of dominance and prestige. Support for this hypothesis emerged from two studies employing self-reports (Study 1), and self-and peer-reports of group members on collegiate athletic teams (Study 2). Results from both studies showed that hubristic pride is associated with dominance, whereas authentic pride is associated with prestige. Moreover, the two facets of pride are part of a larger suite of distinctive psychological traits uniquely associated with dominance or prestige. Specifically, dominance is positively associated with traits such as narcissism, aggression, and disagreeableness, whereas prestige is positively associated with traits such as genuine self-esteem, agreeableness, conscientiousness, achievement, advice-giving, and prosociality. Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for our understanding of the evolutionary origins of pride and social status, and the interrelations among emotion, personality, and status attainment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-347
Number of pages14
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Authentic pride
  • Dominance
  • Hubristic pride
  • Prestige
  • Social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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