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Making a Boast Believable: Disclaimers Increase the Effectiveness of Seemingly Untrue Brags
Communicating about one’s accomplishments and abilities to others is an important part of navigating the social world, yet people are not always believed when making self-promotional claims. In this research, we investigate how people can brag about themselves more effectively when their audience is not likely to find their claim very credible. We find support for the efficacy of disclaimers (e.g. “This may sound strange to you, but…” or “I’m not that smart, but…”) as an effective tool that can address a brag’s lack of believability and thereby improve perceptions of the braggart. However, we also find evidence that such disclaimers are ineffective when the speaker is already perceived as credible in their claim, and that other types of disclaimers (that address other negative aspects of the statement besides the lack of believability) are ineffective, regardless of speaker credibility. Results are discussed in terms of perceived speaker self-awareness and sincerity.