As a human, you likely think of pride as an emotion you feel. But is pride actually an emotion, or is it something else? New research suggests pride may be more akin to a cognitive process. Unlike basic emotions like joy, anger, or fear, which arise spontaneously, pride requires self-reflection and evaluation. You have to make a judgment about your own achievements and abilities to feel proud.

Pride also motivates future behavior in a way distinct from emotions. When you feel proud of an accomplishment, you want to achieve more and do better. Pride drives you to take on new challenges to continue progressing. Emotions, on the other hand, typically arise as reactions to events and fade once the triggering situation changes or resolves.

So while pride may feel good and lead to positive outcomes, it may not qualify as a true emotion. Pride could be better characterized as a complex social and cognitive construct that propels you to grow as an individual. The next time you succeed at something and feel that familiar swell of pride in your chest, know that there’s more going on under the surface than a simple emotion. Pride is shaping your self-concept and future in profound ways. As pride became a debatable topic let’s see is pride an emotion for sure.

What is pride? The Definition

What is pride The Definition
What is pride The Definition?

What exactly is pride? Pride is commonly thought of as an emotion, but psychologists actually classify it as an attitude or cognitive-affective state. Pride refers to a sense of satisfaction from your own achievements and the achievements of those with whom you identify.

There are two main types of pride:

  • Authentic pride arises from concrete achievements and a sense of mastery. It motivates you to pursue excellence by acknowledging your abilities and skills. Authentic pride creates resilience and inspires kindness toward others.
  • Hubristic pride arises from an exaggerated sense of superiority over others. It fuels arrogance, aggression, and prejudice. Hubristic pride is associated more with narcissism and less with self-esteem.

While authentic pride feels good, hubristic pride ultimately leads to more negative outcomes. The key difference lies in how you view yourself in relation to others. Do you feel you’ve earned your achievements through hard work and skill (authentic), or do you feel inherently superior (hubristic)?

In summary, pride can be a positive or negative influence, depending on the type. The healthiest pride comes from appreciating your own accomplishments, not comparing yourself to others. Authentic pride inspires motivation and resilience, whereas hubristic pride fuels arrogance and hostility. Pride in moderation, especially when focused inward, can be an adaptive part of human psychology. But taken to an extreme, pride becomes a destructive force that inhibits growth and community.

Pride as a Secondary Emotion: Is Pride an Emotion?

Yes. Pride is commonly thought of as one of the most basic human emotions, but is it really that simple? Some theorists argue that pride is actually a secondary emotion that arises from our interpretations of primary emotions like joy or achievement.

Research shows that pride stems from self-evaluations of our own actions, skills, and accomplishments, whether real or imagined. When we experience success or triumph in an area that is meaningful to us, it leads to feelings of pride in what we have done or achieved. However, pride would not arise without the cognitive assessments we make about ourselves and our performances.

In this view, pride arises secondarily from the primary emotions of joy, excitement, or satisfaction, combined with our self-evaluations and judgments. The experience of pride is highly cognitive and self-reflective. We have to interpret our own achievements or talents as valuable, meaningful, or status-enhancing to feel pride.

Pride also motivates us to act in self-enhancing ways to maintain or increase our perceived status or value. We may work harder, take on more responsibility, or make choices that validate our self-concept. In this way, pride fuels ambition, competitiveness, and achievement. However, it can also lead to hubris, close-mindedness, and a lack of empathy when taken to an extreme.

So while pride feels like a basic emotion, it appears to actually emerge from an interaction between more primary feelings and our self-evaluations. It requires self-awareness, interpretations of social standing, and judgments of self-worth—all higher cognitive functions. This suggests that pride occupies a more complex place in our emotional experiences than traditionally assumed.

What are the primary characteristics of pride as an emotion?

What are the primary characteristics of pride as an emotion
What are the primary characteristics of pride as an emotion?

Pride is commonly thought of as an emotion, but it actually possesses several key characteristics that set it apart.

Subjective feelings

While pride produces good feelings in those experiencing it, these feelings are highly subjective and dependent on one’s self-evaluation and life experiences. The sense of pleasure or satisfaction that comes from a promotion at work will differ from that gained after overcoming a physical challenge. Though the outcomes differ, the underlying emotion—pride—remains the same.


Pride arises from how we perceive and judge ourselves, not just the specific outcomes or events in our lives. Our assessments of our own abilities, qualities, and achievements determine if we feel pride. This self-evaluation can be based on social comparisons, meeting internal standards or expectations, or overcoming obstacles through hard work and perseverance.

Motivator of behavior

Pride also acts as a motivator for future behavior and performance. The good feelings we get from pride drive us to continue improving, developing our skills, and pursuing new challenges. The desire to recreate that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment motivates us to work harder and push further in the activities that elicited pride. In this way, pride enhances resilience, creativity, and ambition.

While pride shares some characteristics with basic emotions, its dependence on self-evaluation and its role in driving behavior and motivation set it apart. Pride may feel good, but it serves a greater purpose: inspiring excellence and fostering growth. Overall, pride is a complex, self-conscious emotion that shapes our sense of identity and purpose. Though it is subtle, its influence on human progress and flourishing is profound.

How does pride differ from other emotions?

How does pride differ from other emotions
How does pride differ from other emotions?

Pride is often thought of as an emotion, but it differs from other emotions in key ways.

1. Pride is a self-conscious emotion.

Unlike basic emotions like joy or anger, which arise spontaneously, pride requires self-reflection. You have to evaluate your own actions or qualities and determine whether you meet some internal standard of competence or excellence. This type of self-evaluation makes pride a self-conscious emotion.

2. Pride motivates achievement.

The good feelings we get from pride motivate us to pursue future achievements and successes. Feeling pride in a job well done makes us want to repeat and build on that success. This drive to achieve is why pride is linked to motivation and perseverance.

3. Pride can be hubristic or authentic.

There are two types of pride: hubristic and authentic. Hubristic pride refers to an inflated sense of self and feelings of arrogance. Authentic pride means feeling good about your actual achievements and skills. Authentic pride is linked to greater well-being and motivation, while hubristic pride can damage relationships and mental health.

4. Pride lasts longer than other emotions.

The self-evaluative process that generates pride also gives it a longer-lasting quality than other emotions. We can feel proud of accomplishments days, months, and even years after they happen. This persistent nature of pride allows it to have ongoing influences on our behavior and self-image over long periods of time.

In summary, while pride feels good like other positive emotions, it differs in key aspects like its self-conscious nature, ability to motivate achievement, two distinct forms (hubristic vs. authentic), and longevity. Recognizing how pride operates can help harness its benefits while avoiding its potential costs to yourself and others.

The Difference Between Pride, Arrogance, and Vanity

The Difference Between Pride, Arrogance, and Vanity
The Difference Between Pride, Arrogance, and Vanity

Pride is often thought of as an emotion, but technically speaking, it is more of a cognitive and social construct. Unlike basic emotions such as joy, anger, or fear, which are instinctive, pride requires self-reflection and an understanding of social norms.

Pride vs. arrogance and vanity

While pride is usually seen as a positive trait in the right amounts, arrogance and vanity are typically viewed as excessive and unhealthy. The main differences are:

  • Pride is satisfaction with one’s own achievements and qualities. Arrogance is an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance, and vanity is an excessive concern for one’s appearance and achievements.
  • Someone who is proud can appreciate others’ accomplishments, while arrogant and vain individuals typically only care about themselves.
  • Proud people don’t think they’re better than others; they just feel good about what they’ve achieved. Arrogant and vain people believe they are superior to most people in some way.
  • Pride is usually rooted in actual accomplishments or skills. Arrogance and vanity are often based on an inflated self-perception unrelated to reality.
  • Pride builds self-confidence from within, whereas arrogance and vanity require constant external validation and admiration from others.

In summary, the healthiest option is to pursue humility, self-acceptance, and nurturing an inner sense of self-worth that isn’t dependent on achievements, appearances, or what others think of you. Appreciate your good qualities and accomplishments, but also maintain a balanced perspective, treating all people with equal dignity and respect.

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Can pride be negative or positive?

Can pride be negative or positive
Can pride be negative or positive?

Pride is a complex emotion that can have both positive and negative effects. While a healthy sense of pride in one’s achievements and self-worth is important for well-being, an excessive amount of pride can lead to negative outcomes.

Positive Pride

Feeling proud of accomplishments, skills, values, and relationships can enhance self-esteem and resilience. This type of pride motivates individuals to achieve goals, work hard, and strengthen connections. When you experience pride in overcoming obstacles through effort and skill, it builds confidence in your abilities and potential for growth.

Negative Pride

However, pride can also manifest as arrogance, self-aggrandizement, and a sense of superiority over others. This hubristic pride ignores personal faults and weaknesses and lacks humility and gratitude. Those exhibiting excessive pride often put others down to lift themselves up, and they have an inflated sense of entitlement. They believe they are inherently better than others in a way that leads to prejudice, close-mindedness, and interpersonal conflict.

Finding the balance

The key is cultivating a balanced and compassionate sense of pride. Feel good about your accomplishments, but also recognize your limitations and shortcomings. Take pride in your positive qualities and values, but do not let them lead you to think you are somehow inherently superior. Pride should inspire you to become a better person through continuous self-improvement, not justify putting others down. Maintaining an attitude of humility, gratitude, and openness helps ensure your pride does not become counterproductive.

Why We Feel Pride: The Purpose and Evolutionary Benefits

Why We Feel Pride The Purpose and Evolutionary Benefits
Why We Feel Pride The Purpose and Evolutionary Benefits

Pride is a complex emotion that serves an important purpose. While often viewed as a negative trait, pride actually provides several benefits when experienced in moderation.

1. An adaptive emotion

From an evolutionary perspective, pride developed as an adaptation to promote social status and hierarchy. Expressing pride in our accomplishments and achievements signals to others that we have desirable traits and skills that increase our social value. This helped our ancestors find mates and form alliances.

2. Motivates Achievement

Pride also serves as an internal motivator. The good feeling we get from accomplishing our goals and excelling at tasks encourages us to continue improving and being productive. The desire to experience pride again motivates us to set new goals and work toward self-betterment.

3. Increases Self-Esteem

Feeling proud of ourselves boosts our self-esteem and confidence in our abilities. When we achieve milestones or master new skills, our sense of self-worth grows. We recognize our own competence and talent, gaining an internal sense of validation.

  • Higher self-esteem gives us the courage to take on greater challenges and risks.
  • It makes us more resilient in the face of failure or criticism.
  • Self-esteem also enhances our happiness and life satisfaction.

4. Fosters social bonds

The pride we feel in our relationships and connections with others strengthens our social bonds. Taking pride in our family, friends, and community boosts feelings of closeness, belonging, and shared purpose. We become more willing to sacrifice for the good of the group and support each other.

While excessive pride can become hubristic and lead to negative outcomes, appropriate levels of pride serve us well. By motivating achievement, increasing self-worth, and strengthening social ties, pride produces benefits that far outweigh its potential costs. Overall, pride is an emotion that should be cultivated and expressed in moderation.

The physical manifestations of pride

The physical manifestations of pride
The physical manifestations of pride

Pride manifests itself physically in humans as well as psychologically. When you experience feelings of pride, your body reacts in several ways:

1. Increased Confidence

Pride causes feelings of accomplishment and self-worth, which lead to elevated confidence levels. Your posture may become upright and open; you may make more direct eye contact; and your voice may project strength and competence. This confidence boost can motivate you to take on new challenges and pursue ambitious goals.

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2. Release of dopamine

The neurotransmitter dopamine is released in the brain when you feel proud. Dopamine activates the reward center in your brain, giving you a rush of pleasure and satisfaction. This dopamine hit makes the feeling of pride rewarding and helps to reinforce the behaviors or accomplishments that led to the prideful state.

3. Changes in Heart Rate and Body Temperature

Feelings of pride can cause physical arousal in the form of an increased heart rate and a higher body temperature. Your heart may beat faster and stronger, pumping more oxygenated blood throughout your body. Your body temperature may also increase slightly due to this arousal. These physical reactions are signs of the activation of your body’s sympathetic nervous system.

4. Improved Physical Performance

The surge of confidence and dopamine brought on by pride can enhance your physical abilities and skills. Feeling proud of your athletic talents or physical achievements may allow you to push yourself further and accomplish more demanding physical feats. Your motivation and perseverance are boosted, and your perceived physical limits are expanded. This can create an upward spiral of continued success and pride.

In summary, while pride in excess can lead to negative outcomes like arrogance or narcissism, in moderation it serves as a useful emotion for self-improvement and ambition. Recognizing the physical impacts of pride can help you harness the benefits of this empowering feeling.

How pride impacts our behavior and relationships

How pride impacts our behavior and relationships
How pride impacts our behavior and relationships

Pride is a complex emotion that significantly impacts our behavior and relationships. While pride is often thought of as a positive feeling, it can have both beneficial and detrimental effects.

How Pride Positively Impacts Behavior

When experienced in moderation, pride can lead to:

  • Increased motivation and perseverance. Feeling proud of an accomplishment gives us confidence and spurs us on to achieve more.
  • Improved performance and productivity. Pride in our work or skills inspires us to continue improving.
  • Stronger relationships. Expressing pride in our partners, children, or friends strengthens our connections with them through praise and support.

The potential downsides of pride

However, excessive pride can negatively impact our behavior and relationships.

  • Difficulty accepting feedback. Too much pride can make us unwilling to acknowledge our weaknesses or mistakes, stunting our growth.
  • Damaged teamwork. An overabundance of pride in ourselves and our own ideas can hinder collaboration with others.
  • Hurtful behavior. Extreme pride often manifests as arrogance, which leads to behaviors like boasting, the judgment of others, and refusal to compromise, damaging our relationships.
  • Lack of empathy. An excessive sense of pride in ourselves can make it difficult to understand other perspectives and show compassion for those who are different from us.

So while feeling proud of our values, skills, loved ones, and accomplishments is healthy and normal, we must be careful not to let pride dominate us. Maintaining an attitude of humility and openness is key to balancing pride and using it as a positive motivator rather than an impediment. The truth about pride is that moderation and self-awareness are required to experience its benefits without its detriments.

How to Develop Healthy Pride

How to Develop Healthy Pride
How to Develop Healthy Pride

To develop healthy pride, you must first understand what constitutes healthy and unhealthy pride. Healthy pride means feeling good about yourself for your efforts and accomplishments. It is acknowledging your strengths, skills, and positive qualities in a balanced way. Unhealthy pride, on the other hand, is an exaggerated sense of self-importance, achievement, or entitlement.

1. Recognize your achievements.

Make a list of your accomplishments, big and small. Think of challenges you have overcome, skills you have gained, and kind acts you have done. Appreciate the work and effort that went into achieving these things. Be specific about your contributions and the positive impact you have made. Review this list when you need a reminder of what you have achieved.

2. Accept yourself

Learn to appreciate yourself for who you are—your personality, talents, values, and spirit. Avoid harsh self-criticism and negative self-talk. Speak to yourself with encouragement and praise, as you would a good friend. Identify qualities you like about yourself and practice self-compassion. The more you accept yourself, the less you will rely on external validation.

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3. Set boundaries

Do not let others take advantage of you or make you feel bad about yourself. Stand up for your needs and say “no” when you need to. Choose to spend less time with people who do not treat you well. Setting boundaries will help build your confidence from the inside out.

4. Focus on self-improvement.

Rather than comparing yourself to others, focus on being the best person you can be. Set small, achievable goals, and acknowledge your progress. Look for opportunities to learn and push yourself outside your comfort zone in a gradual way. Your self-worth should not depend on being better than others but rather on being committed to continuous self-improvement.

Be patient with yourself and maintain an attitude of growth and compassion. Appreciate life’s moments of success and lessons in humility. With time and practice, you will build inner confidence and strength of character.


As you’ve discovered, pride is far more complex than a simple emotion. It encompasses your core beliefs, values, and sense of self. Pride arises from your achievements and the qualities you cultivate, but it also serves a deeper purpose in motivating your behavior and shaping your identity.

While pride can lead to negative outcomes like arrogance or close-mindedness, it remains an essential human experience. Your pride defines what you stand for and who you aspire to become. So embrace pride for its profound impact on empowering your personal growth and purpose in life. Though subtle and often misunderstood, pride is what gives life deep meaning and fulfillment.


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