Posted by: Chris Maloney | February 2, 2018

Why We Believe What We Believe: Does Pride Come Before A Fall?

If I were to tell you that pride cometh before a fall, you’d probably nod your head. After all, Proverbs 16:18 is pretty clear. It says a haughty spirit goes before a fall, but we know that is basically the same thing. But is it true? It is literally true? Do people with a lot of pride fall down more? pexels-photo-772286.jpeg

A group of English researchers tracked a group of elderly patients over time. One of the questions the patients answered early on was how much pride they had. The groups were divided into low pride, moderate pride, and high pride. Over time, the groups did differ in how often they fell down. One group fell down almost half as often as the other groups. 

Yep, pride cometh before not falling. Researchers found that self-reported high pride was an independent factor for not falling down. And that’s after factoring out confounding things like: previous falls, eyesight, etc. The people with the most pride fell down less.

That got me interested in whether pride is a major factor in community falling. Bankruptcy is an easy marker of a community failure. And pride is not really a major player. “Research has found that the primary cause of personal bankruptcy is a high level of consumer debt often coupled with an unexpected insolvency event, such as divorce, job loss, death of a spouse or a major medical expense not covered by insurance.” Pride might have caused the initial debt, but the rest sounds like non-pride issues.

What about emotional? Are people with high levels of pride more prone to emotional problems? Not really. Pride in leisure activities for Americans and altruism among Koreans could alleviate depression. While regrets and pride explained a small amount of the variance in the GDS scores, current life stressors greatly contributed to geriatric depression.”

OK, but surely proud people are more prone to spiritual failure? This is problematic because most studies find people take a lot of pride in their religion. If a person is proud because they are religious, how can that pride make them more prone to religious failure? So there is no clear answer here as well.

I’m not sure we can make any broader associations, I just thought the English study was cute enough to write about. But perhaps this post will lead to some questioning of what we unthinkingly believe about the world.

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