It’s an old, old story: cocky guys impress the ladies while modest guys impress their mothers. How much I’d like to tell you that I just came across a study suggesting that this assessment is all wrong; just a tired cliche that cocky guys repeat for self-serving reasons.
Regrettably, I have to tell you exactly the opposite. A new study out of Rutgers University adds support to this celebration of arrogance by concluding that women really don’t like modesty in a man. Less surprising, the study also found that other men don’t appreciate male modesty, either, classifying it as “weak.”
Researchers showed more than 200 people videotapes of a man and a woman applying for a job as a computer lab manager. The people in the videos were really actors following the same script in the fake interview. All of the actors were instructed to act humbly about their achievements.
Study participants were asked to rate them for modesty, likeability and other factors. Although the applicants were portrayed as equally qualified, both women and men viewing the video rated the male applicant significantly less likable than the female one.
“Modest men were not liked as much as modest women because they were viewed as ‘too weak’ for a man and because they were viewed as insufficiently confident and ambitious,” the researchers wrote in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity.
If correct, these findings suggest that men more prone to modesty try to act less so for fear of being seen as weak and unambitious. Forcing that sort of personality twist rarely turns out well, and often produces a higher level of jerkiness than actual jerks are capable of.
Funny thing is that in a previous study, the same researchers found that when women act assertively, they are judged as lacking social skills.