Event Information

PsychFest is Pleased to Announce the 2017 Keynote Presentation!
Friday, June 2, 2017, 3:45 pm - 4:45 pm, AW 204

Title of Presentation: The Nature of Pride: The Emotional Origins of Social Rank

Presenter: Dr. Jessica Tracy, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia

About the Presenter: Dr. Jessica Tracy is a Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, and a Canadian Institute for Health Research New Investigator. Her research focuses on emotions and emotion expressions, and the self-conscious emotions of pride and shame. She has published over 90 journal articles, book chapters, and edited volumes, many in leading psychology (e.g., Psychological Science, JPSP) and cross-disciplinary (e.g., PNAS) journals. She is the author of the recently released trade book Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success (2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and currently serving as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Presentation Overview: Why do people respond to their most impressive and apparent successes by engaging in verbal and nonverbal displays of self-celebration, superiority, and even arrogance? I will present a series of studies demonstrating that humans may have an evolved tendency to respond to success by showing pride, a distinct and universally recognized emotion expression. I will further argue that this expression evolved to serve a fundamental social function: communicating to others an individual’s deservedness of high status or social rank. As I will show, the pride expression is a powerful status signal, sending a message that is distinct from other emotions, implicitly perceived, and strong enough to counteract contradictory contextual information in shaping status-based decision-making. Furthermore, findings from a separate line of research on the psychological structure of pride support this functionalist account. Individuals subjectively experience and think about pride in two distinct ways, consistent with a theoretical distinction between a confident and effort-based “authentic” pride, and a more grandiose and self-aggrandizing “hubristic” pride. These findings explain how the experience of pride may serve a complementary function to its expression. Specifically, each form of pride is linked to a distinct rank-attainment strategy (i.e., “dominance” vs. “prestige”), suggesting that each motivates a divergent set of behaviors needed to attain each of these two forms of rank. Overall, this research suggests that pride is a complex and multifaceted social emotion that is closely linked to self-esteem, narcissism, achievement, and status, and may be an evolved part of human nature. 


We are grateful to the PsychFest 2017 Sponsors!

  • Dean's Office, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Department of Psychology, Western Washington University
  • Center for Cross-Cultural Research, Western Washington University
  • Western Associated Students Bookstore
  • And the following publishers:



For more information, please consult with your faculty research mentor. You also may contact a member of the PsychFest Committee:

Jennifer Devenport, Committee Chair
Jeff Carroll
Todd Haskell
David Sattler
Larry Symons

Post Event Information

5:30 pm - Apres PsychFest Soiree
Location: Aslan Brewery
1330 N. Forest St., Bellingham


PsychFest Keynote Speakers

2017 – Dr. Jessica Tracy, University of British Columbia. Area: Social/Personality. Title: The Nature of Pride: The Emotional Origins of Social Rank

2016 – Dr. Ryan Reese, Oregon State University, Cascades. Area: Counseling. Title: From Western to Faculty Member:  Key Learnings on Becoming a Researcher-Practitioner 

2015 – Dr. Andrea Stocco, University of Washington. Area: Cognitive/Neuropsychology. Title: Manipulation and Representation of Symbolic Knowledge in the Human Brain

2014 – Dr. Kevin Haggerty, University of Washington. Area: Developmental/Clinical. Title: Power of Family to Promote Well Being: Results from the Family Connection Studies

2013 – Dr. Izabella Schultz, University of British Columbia. Area: Clinical. Title: Mental Disorders and Work

2012 – Dr. Eric Eich, University of British Columbia. Area: Cognitive/Neuropsychology. Title: Remembering the Personal Past from Field and Observer Perspectives

2011 – Dr. Edith Chen, University of British Columbia. Area: Health/Developmental/Neuropsychology. Title: Psychobiological Pathways linking SES to Childhood Asthma

2010 – Dr. Cheryl Kaiser, University of Washington. Area: Social/Cross-cultural. Title: Group Identity and Experiencing Discrimination

2009 – Dr. Ross Thompson, University of California, Davis. Area: Developmental. Title: Parent-Child Conversation and Psychological Understanding