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Why social media bragging means you may be a secret genius

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Anna Brech
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Far from needing validation, those who boast about themselves on LinkedIn and elsewhere could actually be onto a very smart strategy 

Let’s face it, social media bragging is a frowned-upon art.

Like all guilty pleasures in life - eating crisps in the office, rocking out to Beyoncé on the bus - you have to be careful how you do it. 

Dreamy holiday snaps are acceptable in moderation, for example, but endlessly harping on about your new book/job promotion/perfect relationship is not.

And if you boast too often or too loudly, the world will automatically assume that you’re a bit insecure.

However, new insight from a behavioural theorist suggests that - contrary to common perception - social media braggers aren’t desperately seeking validation. 

Instead, their self-congratulatory missives may all be a savvy ploy to get ahead in life.

Social media bragging provides a short-term “motivational jolt”

In an intriguing piece for Psychology Today, Texas-based marketing professor Utpal M. Dholakia explores how social media bragging “benefits the braggart”.

According the research he’s scoured through, posting a brag on LinkedIn or Instagram has a two-fold effect on performance.

Firstly, it provides a short-term “motivational jolt” that is similar having a cup of coffee during a mid-afternoon slump. 

You’re fuelled by recognising your own worth, and also by the likes and comments that your recognition attracts (an extra shot, if you will).

The effect of this boasting means you’re likely to see yourself as more influential than you actually are - at least in the short-term. 

“After you’ve bragged about something, you’ll feel in control of your work for the rest of the afternoon,” says Prof. Dholakia.

And secondly, when you receive positive feedback from other people about your brag, you self-esteem spikes (as this study shows).

Let the feel-good feelings flow with a spot of LinkedIn boosting

So, used well, a carefully crafted social media brag could propel you forward both in your career and in your life more generally.

There are, however, a few caveats. You still need to weigh up the cost of bragging against its potential benefits, to pitch your boast just right.

And, says Dholakia, a humblebrag - the go-to favourite of us Brits - just won’t cut it when it comes to getting these results (presumably because it’s too ambiguous).

“Provide useful information in the boast,” he advises. “Boast about a topic that is close to your self-identity. Make a claim that is specific and narrow.”

So there you have it, folks - go out there and brag to you heart’s content.

It means you’re utilising a highly sophisticated - and modern - success system to your advantage. And who in their right minds could fault that?

Read Professor Utpal Dholakia’s piece in full on Psychology Today

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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