Conveying Confidence: It’s What You Say, Not What You Do

A student raises his hand in classEveryone knows a braggart, and most people have witnessed endless self-promotion on social media sites. For those who are more self-conscious, preferring humility to self-aggrandizement, the idea that people are judged on what they do rather than what they say can be comforting. According to new research, though, overestimating yourself may encourage others to overestimate you as well. Braggarts may actually be seen as more competent.

When Bragging Helps You Get Ahead

The study asked 72 university students to predict their final grade on the first day of class. Fifteen percent of students correctly predicted their grades, while 45% underestimated their final grades and 40% overestimated their grades. Students were also asked to predict their classmates’ final grades. Researchers found that students were more likely to predict good grades for students who overestimated their own eventual grades. Thus students perceived excessively confident students as more competent than they actually were.

The study’s authors point out that their results show that confidence and self-promotion can be just as important in others’ assessments as achievement. Indeed, confidence could be even more important than achievement. In the working world, assessment of one’s abilities can become key to getting ahead, and this latest study suggests that managers might promote the most aggressive self-promoter or the most confident employee—rather than the one who quietly and diligently works to get ahead.

Self-confidence can be a positive trait in academic settings. Previous research has shown that self-confidence can affect learning. For example, in one 2011 study, students’ self-confidence increased the more they learned, so confidence was a good measure of a student’s skill level. For students and workers hoping to get ahead and be positively perceived, faking confidence could prove to be a convincing strategy.


  1. Preidt, R. (2014, August 27). Overconfident folks may blind others to their real abilities. Retrieved from
  2. Student confidence correlated with academic performance, horticultural science class study finds. (20111, April 4). Retrieved from

© Copyright 2014 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Shane


    September 2nd, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    But do I really want to have to fake it? I suppose that the words fake it til you make it still ring true, but to me that feels like I am not being my real and authentic self and that is not what life is supposed to be about to me. I don’t wnat to have to fake it, because I know that when you REALLY know the truth and what you have been working toward then you can be your real self, and you don’t have to worry about trying to be something that you aren’t.

  • jonathan


    September 3rd, 2014 at 4:04 AM

    as long as you understand that being a confident braggart probably won’t help you make any friends…

  • Delia


    September 3rd, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and go with it. A little BS never hurt anyone too much did it, and you know that there are going to be those people who will totally eat it up, they like feeling as if they are being cared for or given advice by someone who is strong and confident. You may feel a little weak on the inside but you don’t always have to show that on the outside. I can almost promise you that someone who is a good talker and who seems confident in what they are saying is bound to go a lot farther than someone who is a little wishy washy and does not seem all that confident.

  • james


    September 5th, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    I agree that exuding a lot of confidence can really help to elevate you in the eyes of others. But you do have to be careful that you are not too overly confident and that your lack of real knowledge does not eventually catch up with you. It is okay to be that confident but you also need to have the intelligence to back all of that up with. It can’t all be a facade because sooner or later someone is going to find out that you have been bluffing your way through something and that could ultimately be very damaging to your career and reputation.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.