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From Boasting to Boosting: Positive Consequences for Observers of High-Rank Braggarts
This research examines how bragging conducted by higher-ranked individuals affects observers’ emotions and motivation. We developed and tested the idea of a Bragging Boost, that superior braggarts inspire lower-ranked observers by sharing achievement-related information that reflects opportunities to succeed in relevant domains. Results from five experimental studies revealed that (1) observers of superiors’ (versus peers’) bragging report feeling inspired and motivated by bragging, (2) conversations involving bragging by superiors (versus no bragging) lead to greater experiences of positive activating emotions, (3) these positive activating emotions are reliably induced by superior, but not subordinate, braggarts. (4) These affective changes lead to greater observer-reported motivation. Finally, (5) these effects arise only when superiors brag about performance achievements (versus personal consumption achievements), and (6) diminish when superior braggarts repeatedly brag about the same accomplishments. Our findings illustrate the positive effects bragging can have on observers, and how this behavior can increase observer motivation.