The feeling when you possess or have accomplished something that other people find praiseworthy. You feel vigorous and have the urge to show off to others.

Pride is primarily about yourself, even when it is not you who did something that you are proud about. You can also be proud of something someone else did, who you associate with, such as your children or your favorite football team. People can feel proud of their culture, their family name, or their appearance, none of which require them to actively contribute to the praiseworthy thing1. However, the opinions of others are of crucial importance, as best demonstrated when you purposefully do something that other people praise.

Pride is a social emotion, and to feel proud, you need other people’s (real or imagined) confirmation that you have a reason to feel that way. Because of this, other people can also ‘be in your head’ and prevent you from feeling pride. Namely, what is praiseworthy is subjective. Things that may be considered good in a certain (cultural) group may not be praiseworthy in another (e.g., if you grew up in a family that greatly values academics, your athletic abilities may not evoke much praise). Moreover, what is praiseworthy is relative (e.g., if you are a good runner in an athletically average school, you may regularly feel proud about your times; but if you move to a school with highly competent athletes, these same times may seem unremarkable to you). Thus, the more exclusive your quality is in your surroundings, the prouder you feel.

Pride has recognizable features. Although its static facial expression (typically a smile or laugh) does not clearly distinguish it from other positive emotions, it typically results in a bodily posture, gestures, and behavior that are clearly recognizable: lifting your chin, looking people in the eye, walking confidently, or in extreme cases, raising arms above your head. In a way, you try to make yourself larger and more noticeable, as if to say: ‘look at me!’ You may also exhibit more perseverance in your activities2.

People generally find it very pleasant to experience pride, as it elevates our feeling of social self-worth and status3. At the same time, many social groups, religions, and cultures (especially those that are highly collectivistic, such as the East Asian or African culture) believe that pride needs to be checked. Unchecked pride leads to arrogance and misplaced feelings of superiority (‘letting something get to your head’, ‘hubris comes before the fall’), and social groups typically do not tolerate members feeling like they are superior or deserve special treatment.

Movie clips


Typical expressions

“I did great.”

Sources and further reading