Pride is a word of two halves. One side is the description of a positive mental respect for our achievements and decisions well made. The other is used to describe a way of viewing one’s self in a distorted fashion, so to prolong a superior image of one’s self that ultimately leads to unfair biassing personality traits.

Evolutionarily, pride is innately nested onto neural architecture that rewards important achievements. The chin and nose are held aloft as the head tilts back. The neck is openly displayed. A smile adorns the face, and the chest is pushed out. In significant victories, arms are often raised to head height and above and sometimes air pumped with clenched fists – a sort of vertical orgasm. Blind people instinctively exhibit the same features, and other animals display pride too, so it’s not only innate, but it’s a cross species social emotion. Pride instinctively conveys a perception of success, yet it can manifest in two sharply contrasting ways.
Pride frequently describes something that is extremely positive whilst at the same time being used by many others to describe something that is extremely negative. The two descriptions seem to be polar opposites, yet the single word is in common use. Often people initially think that there’s only one meaning. People tend to learn one meaning for the word, usually the one their family uses, and they stick to the initial meaning while learning to acknowledge the other meaning too. This has the tendency of creating a time where people realise and address the issue. Until this point is reached, there can be many misunderstandings when people use the word “pride” in conversations.

It may seem a very simple thing to resolve and hardly worth mentioning as people can take on the additional meaning when they first learn of it. In reality, it’s usually not that simple. The concept has important and complex overtones. It encompasses several emotions in one descriptive state. It takes time to develop personal meaning around each description. Pride is a sharply negative emotion to some people whilst being an admirable quality of success for others. This creates ongoing misunderstandings and sticking points in conversations unless people define the two accurately.
The easier description to define is associated with satisfaction from decisions well made. This concept is heavily associated with personal achievement and success. Pride can be placed in personal characteristics or talents that lead to success. Specifically, pride is often used to describe success over adversity. In this sense, people can be extremely proud of others, and parents will undoubtedly recognise this as positive.
Appreciation and confidence in one’s abilities is one of the most significant aspects of self-esteem. Self-esteem inoculates people against a wide range of depressive scenarios and allows them to succeed in the face of adversity.
When people doubt someone and that individual has the courage in his or her convictions, makes sound decisions, and succeeds regardless, it’s these points in time that typify the essence of pride in the positive sense.

Appreciation of courage, talents and decisions – all wrapped up in a bundle of positive regard. Whereas admiration is filled with overwhelming wonder, pride is filled with overwhelming positive-regard created from appreciation. Pride says “I am really impressed with that decision!” and “I am really impressed with the way you handled that!”

The negative form of pride is unflattering.

A strutting puffed-up peacock is the negative emblem of pride.

In ancient texts, pride was the first of the seven deadly sins, but it was also said that all other sins stem from pride. However exaggerated this view of the negative form of pride is, it’s an historical account of how wary ancestors of the West were in respect to pride.
The negative description of pride is heavily associated with an excessive appreciation of one’s own achievements. This leads to an inflated sense of status that becomes the basis of one’s self-esteem. In this respect, pride can resemble arrogance. A preoccupation with a perceived social status creates a sort of vanity-orientated pride. Fear of losing a perceived status can lead to different behaviours aimed at stopping the loss. When the potential loss of status is caused by another, jealousy can lead to an array of other negative emotions through envy. When people fear the loss of an important status, overly reactive behaviours based on snap decisions can become preoccupied with stopping the perceived loss of status at any cost. These unjust and purely selfish reactions typify the negative description of pride

Snap decisions that are based on pride can be acted-out in milliseconds and to a large extent go unnoticed by either party in a conversation. People commonly notice, in hind-sight, that they’re being prideful when they reflect on their motives, yet because the problem with the situation has been created by their reaction, they have difficulty accepting they acted in a pathetic way as this would threaten their perceived sense of status. People like to think they’re always in control or at least would like others to think so, and that’s a reason why people push the thought of their pathetic impulsive behaviour out of conscious awareness (see Ignorance). Pride can enter into a self-delusive cycle with a motive of maintaining status by ignoring information that would jeopardise the current feelings of self-esteem. Feelings that are based on an inflated sense of status. Pride has got its definition of unreasonably maintaining self-interest due to such biassing. Even though others can clearly see that people are being selfish and unreasonable, they cannot admit it to themselves.
The elements of this description of pride are overvaluing of status, air of superiority, and contempt for others. This can be seen in terms of an ego-trip where people think of their self (ego) as being of great importance, and more valuable than others around them. Although, because of the overvaluing of their self-concept, if the truth were to be known, their status and ego-trip would be threatened, so the self-delusive aspect to this form of pride is employed. This denial of new information (ignorance or cognitive-avoidance) can be seen as an attempt to prolong the ego-trip. In so doing, the side-effects of excessive confidence and self-esteem are created. The self-concept is prevented from updating.

Contempt can mentally be used to intimidate people, and it has a long-standing relationship with pride. Proud people exhibit their superiority over others by walking around in a puffed-up fashion. Radiating self-confidence, they hold their nose aloft as if not to smell nearby inferior persons. In doing so they express contempt. This spectacle can make recipients of the contempt feel insecure; it can induce passiveness. The prideful people are then at liberty to dominate the situation. Pride and contempt coupled together can be used to probe the confidence of others. A survey of reactions that may be taken advantage of is noted. A passive or submissive response suggests a person is open to domination or befriending.


Old English. Pryto = congratulate (oneself).

1. A high or inflated sense of one’s own qualities, attainments, or estate, which gives rise to a feeling or attitude of superiority over and contempt for others; inordinate self-esteem.

2. A feeling of elation, pleasure, or high satisfaction derived from some action or possession, ‘to take pride in’.