Arrogance is having an inflated opinion of one’s self or one’s abilities.
It’s caused by too much conviction being placed in an inaccurate perception. This misplaced conviction gives people emotions that are too strong for the reality of the situation. Expressions of abilities and beliefs seem out of place and overbearing to onlookers. At the same time, they seem like strong and confident statements to the people expressing them.
The misplaced strength of conviction may fool others into thinking they know what they’re talking about. Nonetheless, it’s a false security that leads to conflict when around people who know different. This can lead to arrogant people feeling embarrassed or belittled, which results in a bruised ego, and this threatens their perceived social status within a group. It’s not uncommon for people holding arrogant opinions to bully a person, who is well informed, from fear of being seen as mistaken and thus undermined by personal error. Arrogance often leads people towards acting in a pushy manner. The scenario created by placing too much conviction in something leaves people on shaky ground. Views are often protected in a defensive manner as errors in judgement are guarded.
Being in a safe, confidential and self-reflective environment, such as a counselling room, is ideal for working through issues of arrogance.1 Because the embarrassment and loss of status created by others is virtually eliminated, it’s much easier to work with the actual inaccurate perception rather than the reactive behaviour. A caring friend can be good to work through such issues with. However the inaccurate perceptions are addressed, they always have to be reflected on and adjusted to better represent reality. This will reduce the misplaced conviction. Then the emotional expressions the conviction funds will be less overbearing and more appropriate.
Arrogance is a weakness. People unknowingly overstep the mark in confident displays that leave a chink in their armour that others can see. Arrogance also annoys others as it “steps on toes” and forces untrue issues with strong conviction. It stubbornly refuses to accept truths.
Arrogant views can be passed on from person to person and everyone inherits many. People grow and absorb the convictions of their parents, friends, teachers, groups and cultures without knowing it. It can be very difficult to tell what arrogant beliefs one holds. Personally held arrogant views so often can seem like normal accepted things, so people don’t question them. They’re overlooked.
In the Visual Cliff experiment, toddlers are placed near a sudden drop in the floor (a visual illusion). Toddlers approach the cliff and glance towards their mothers who are positioned nearby. Mothers are asked to use negative, positive or neutral facial expressions to communicate with their babies (e.g. smiles, nods, frowns, shaking of the head or no expression).2 The babies’ responses systematically and appropriately correspond to their mother’s emotional cues. This includes crawling over the edge of the cliff if they are encouraged with a smile. Mothers can encourage or discourage their children with simple positive or negative emotional expressions. This ability to shape a child’s convictions around behaviour is disproportionately biassed toward the mother – the primary caregiver – in a hierarchical structure (e.g. mother then father then grandma) relating to significant others. Just as babies that are several days old have been proven to distinguish their mother’s milk and scent, a toddler will respond to a stranger’s emotional expressions with suspicion. Babies and toddlers are genetically programmed to form convictions from their mother’s expressions above and beyound anyone else. Trust is an innate mechanism in emotional development.
Parents instil convictions in their children. This means that until people question their views they are largely directed by the convictions their parents instilled in them. The degree a parent approved or disapproved of a specific behaviour will directly relate to the strength of convictions their child inherits. This natural process evolved so children’s behaviour can be appropriately adapted to their environment – to give children a greater probability of succeeding that’s based on updates from their parent’s experience. This conditioning of conviction happens whether the parent knows it’s happening or not. Meme inherited principles are idiosyncratic. They are unique to every individual. This represents the most significant way people can express too much conviction in an ability or opinion without realising it.
On the other hand, people do not only receive thoughts endowed with too much conviction from psychological processes alone. Drug users are very susceptible to developing arrogant views. Their perceptions are sometimes massively altered. They feel the biologically positive feelings that usually accompany experiences of great success. Strong convictions and subconscious biasses are placed in these altered perceptions. The biological sensations, of say elation, that naturally would be created by perceiving massive success are associated with behaviours in no way remarkable.
The theory is that this skews people’s biological and neurological memory, for it creates errors in people’s instinctive way of relating to the memorised events. The biological portion of the memories – somatic markers – then misrepresent reality and associate massive conviction with thoughts and behaviours that do not deserve such conviction and bias.3 There are no foundations to those perceptions. No enduring step-by-step process takes drug users to their lofty heights. This represents a mismatch between the subjective value of a memory and reality that subsequently biasses their decisions inappropriately. Long-term drug abuse can leave people expressing weird and wonderful views with a conviction that is hard to justify for the reasonable sober person.
John Lennon once claimed that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus”. Margaret Thatcher once said “there is no such thing as society!” A frequently high member of a left-wing pop band that thinks his group is bigger than Jesus. An elected, right-wing, conviction politician in charge of organising British society who does not believe such a thing as society exists. Arrogance is not limited to left-wing or right-wing thoughts. Arrogant views support the psychological architecture of the people that hold them, but people are boldly endowed with too much conviction. The views prop up the inclinations and ideologies of the people that hold them, but the views do not represent an accurate perception of reality.
Although people do not have to be ignorant to be arrogant, a similar situation will also occur for people who use ignorance excessively. Their views will have denied countless reasonable arguments, gestures and suggestions. This again leads to perceptions that are maladjusted and inaccurate to the reality of a situation, so they will hold too much conviction in their perceptions. The arrogance of ignorance is for opposite reasons when compared with the drug user’s arrogance. Whereas drug users let wildly out there perceptions alter their awareness, ignorant people let nothing in to alter theirs. Nevertheless, both lead to the development of arrogant views.
Arrogance is a troublesome emotion that’s related to misplaced and inflated convictions.
Latin. Arrogantem = assuming, overbearing, insolent.
1. The taking of too much upon one’s self as one’s right; the assertion of unwarrantable claims in respect of one’s own importance; undue assumption of dignity, authority, or knowledge; aggressive conceit, presumption, or haughtiness, overbearing.