The age-​​old ques­tion of whether pride is the sev­enth sin or an adap­tive virtue has been answered by two North­eastern Uni­ver­sity sci­en­tists. Con­trary to pop­ular belief, the researchers found that pride not only leads indi­vid­uals to take on lead­er­ship roles in teams, but also fos­ters admi­ra­tion, as opposed to scorn, from teammates.

We found that pride is quite unde­serving of its neg­a­tive rep­u­ta­tion,” said David DeSteno, asso­ciate pro­fessor of psy­chology and co-​​author of the study. “Pride actu­ally con­sti­tutes a func­tional social emo­tion with impor­tant impli­ca­tions for lead­er­ship and the building of social capital.”

DeSteno and lead author Lisa Williams designed an exper­i­ment including indi­vidual and group activ­i­ties. For the indi­vidual activ­i­ties, cer­tain par­tic­i­pants were induced to feel proud. Par­tic­i­pants next inter­acted coop­er­a­tively on a problem-​​solving task and were asked to eval­uate their part­ners’ lead­er­ship and lik­a­bility. The par­tic­i­pant who received the pride induc­tion took on a dom­i­nant role and was per­ceived as the most “hands-​​on” during the activity. In addi­tion, their team­mates viewed them as more lik­able than the other participants.

These are some of the first find­ings that show func­tional out­comes of pride within the con­text of actual social behavior,” said Williams. “Although when taken to extremes, pride can cer­tainly be mal­adap­tive, this research demon­strates the emotion’s poten­tial for fos­tering suc­cessful inter­per­sonal interaction.”

The find­ings were pub­lished in the March issue of the journal Psy­cho­log­ical Sci­ence. The authors believe that these find­ings hold impli­ca­tions for suc­cessful man­age­ment and team dynamics, espe­cially in the con­text of orga­ni­za­tional behavior.

Pride,” they note, “can play an inte­gral role in enhancing team func­tioning by fos­tering con­fi­dence and admiration.”