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A leading psychologist reveals how our most misunderstood emotion—pride—has shaped our minds and our culture, and shows how we can harness its power.
Why did Paul Gauguin abandon middle-class life to follow the path of a starving artist? What explains the massive success of Steve Jobs, a man with great ideas but weak programming skills and a questionable managerial style? How did Dean Karnazes—the famed “Ultramarathon Man”—transform himself from a directionless desk jockey into an extreme athlete who once ran fifty marathons in fifty days?
As the renowned emotion researcher Jessica Tracy reveals in Take Pride, each of these superachievers has been motivated by an often maligned emotion: pride. Its dark, hubristic side is well known, but Tracy shows that pride is also essential for helping us become our best, brightest selves. By making us care about how others see us and how we see ourselves, pride makes us strive for excellence. In the right doses and the right contexts, it has been proven to boost creativity, motivate altruism, and confer power and prestige on those who display it. But while pride can inspire feats of genius, Tracy explains, it can also compel acts of apparent insanity and spectacular self-destructiveness, causing some people to seek status not through hard work but through intimidation, deception, and self-aggrandizement. Avoiding the bad kind of pride while nurturing the good kind might just be the secret to success.
In Take Pride, Tracy explains why our species came to feel pride in both its good and bad varieties, and how we can make this double-edged emotion serve us—rather than the other way around.
About the Author
JESSICA TRACY is professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where she also directs the Emotion & Self Lab. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, in 2005. Her research focuses on emotions and emotion expressions, and, in particular, those emotions that are most intricately intertwined with our sense of self: pride, shame, and guilt. She has coedited two academic volumes, The Self-Conscious Emotions and The Psychology of Social Status, and has published over eighty journal articles, book chapters, and theoretical reviews in psychology and interdisciplinary science journals. Winner of the James McKeen Cattell Dissertation Award from the New York Academy of Sciences and of the International Society for Self and Identity Early Career Award, she has had her research findings covered by hundreds of media outlets, including ABC’s Good Morning America, NPR’s All Things Considered, the New York Times, The Economist, and Scientific American. Tracy was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and now lives in Vancouver with her daughter, her partner, and their small dog.
"An intriguing new way to think about a complicated emotion."—New York
"What is pride? Is it the joy of an athlete who has just won an Olympic event, or the boasting of a rich businessman? It's both, says Tracy (psychology & director, Emotion and Self Lab, Univ. of British Columbia, Canada). Pride can motivate people to achieve success or can be twisted into a kind of hubristic quality that seeks power rather than accomplishment. Moreover, the author's research program has established that displays of pride—expanded chest, head held high, clenched fists raised—are recognized by people with minimal exposure to Western culture, meaning that pride should be included in what are called the universal 'essential emotions.' Donald Trump supporters won't like this book—he's used as a prime example of hubristic, or negative, pride. VERDICT Politics aside, readers who are interested in experimental psychology and enjoy the work of Steven Pinker and Judith Rich Harris will appreciate this title." —Library Journal
"Fascinating...Readers will be particularly intrigued when Tracy claims that pride can trump pleasure as a motivating force, stating that many notable achievements and inventions throughout history can be traced back to it. Though the subtitle reminds readers that pride is traditionally regarded as the “deadliest sin,” Tracy suggests it plays a key role in the lives of most successful individuals. The first six of the book’s seven chapters are devoted to an analysis of how pride is expressed in different cultures and a revealing exploration of narcissism. The last chapter, however, is the meat of the book, the part readers will find the most interesting and helpful...This book is a must-read for anyone pursuing noteworthy goals, with Tracy aspiring to instill in her readers the message that 'you might just need a little pride.'" —Publishers Weekly
"Sometimes a major component of human experience falls into the cracks and is overlooked by psychology, and that has been true of the emotion of pride and its associated phenomena like accomplishment, ambition, and arrogance. No longer! With scientific and personal insight, and with a gift for vividly presenting both technical research and real-life personalities, Jessica Tracy enlightens us about how this emotion permeates our waking lives and shapes our social worlds."—Steven Pinker, bestselling author of How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate
"Pride gets a bad rap, says Jessica Tracy. Instead of being an unalloyed vice, it can become something closer to a virtue. In this fascinating book, Tracy uses original research to show that pride is a major part of what it means to be human and can be harnessed as a force for good.”— Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and To Sell is Human
“An insightful and engaging exploration of a noble joy, a deadly sin, and an essential piece of the human experience.”—Daniel Gilbert, bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
“Take Pride is a revelation. A renowned psychologist, Jessica Tracy explains that seeking our best self is nothing to be ashamed of, but that seeking praise at all costs gets us into the worst kind of trouble.”—Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit
“Jessica Tracy has flipped the script on pride, showing that it’s not just a deadly sin to be avoided, but also a vitalizing virtue to be nurtured. She does it so convincingly and engagingly that she ought to be proud.”—Robert Cialdini, bestselling author of Influence
“This book stopped me in my tracks and left me questioning my beliefs about what motivates us. Jessica Tracy is the world’s leading expert on pride, and reading this book is like having a coveted front-row seat in her classroom.”—Adam Grant, bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
“Pride drives us to success and achievement, but also arrogance and hubris. Tracing its roots to primate social dominance, Jessica Tracy found that humans everywhere express this emotion the same way. Here she offers an eye-opening discussion of both its indispensability and pitfalls.” —Frans de Waal, bestselling author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?