In a summary of current scientific thinking on the nature of pride and a review of four of their own papers on the topic, Jessica Tracy, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and Richard Robins, a UC Davis psychology professor, suggest that pride is a cross-cultural phenomenon -- that even remote-living tribal cultures know it when they see it -- and that humans recognize two distinct types of pride: justifiable pride and arrogant, or conceited, pride.
In a series of seven studies that canvassed more than 2,000 students at UC Davis, the scientists found the most concrete evidence to date that expressions of pride are generally perceived either positively, as a state related to an accomplishment (termed "authentic pride" by the researchers), or negatively, as one caused by arrogance or conceit (so-called "hubristic pride").
"When Brian Boitano won the Olympic gold medal in men's figure skating in 1988," he says, "he stood stone-faced next to the runner- up. Later Boitano explained, 'I had to hold back. My facial expression could only make him [the opponent] feel worse. I was not going to gloat.' "