Why We Shouldn’t Be Too Modest

According to one new study, when we anticipate feeling pride in something, it’s because it evolved to provide us — and the people around us — with social benefits. Leda Cosmides, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, explains that, in the hunter-gatherer societies of early humans, it was essential to convince other people that your welfare was important. The work she’s conducted with colleagues suggests that the pride we feel if we undertake a difficult task, or nurture a particular quality, is a powerful evolutionary motivator. “If you’re going to invest your time in cultivating a particular skill, you’re going to be better off cultivating skills that other people value,” she says. And one way to show that you have a worthwhile skill is to show your own pride in it.

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