Self-deprecation is the act of reprimanding oneself by belittling, undervaluing, disparaging oneself,[1] or being excessively modest.[2][3] It can be used as a way to make complaints, express modesty, invoke optimal reactions or add humour. It may also be used as a way for individuals to appear more likable and agreeable.[4]

Purposes edit

Self-defense edit

Self-deprecation was recommended by philosophers of Stoicism as a response to insults. Instead of getting defensive, people should join in by insulting themselves even more. According to the Stoics, this will remove the sting from the insult.[5] It will also disappoint the interlocutor because the person failed to show upset in response to words that were supposed to hurt them, thereby reducing the chance that they will try to upset the person like that again.[6] People prefer self-criticism over being criticized by others.[4]

However, researchers believe it can have an overall negative effect on users. It can result in them feeling that they don't deserve praise and undermining their own authority.[7]

Likability edit

Engaging in self-deprecation allows individuals to appear more likable by showing off their flaws and deflecting praise.[8] People tend to have more negative impressions of individuals who seem boastful and who talk positively about themselves. They are often perceived as arrogant, but this doesn't occur when one describes themselves in a negative way.[8] A person might self-deprecate after achieving something in fear of their accomplishment threatening the self-concept of others. People with higher statuses (i.e., is wealthy, has many accomplishments, are physically attractive) are perceived more positively if they self-deprecate by highlighting their own personal flaws and downplay their successes.[8]

Politeness edit

In traditional British English culture, self-deprecation is considered to be an element of modesty. Modesty is considered a virtue, often contrasted to the North American demonstration of self-confidence, often taken for boasting.[9] This is characteristic such as in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, where "blowing one's own trumpet" is frowned upon.[10] In stereotypical English behavior, belittling themselves means appearing polite by putting someone else first.[9]

Comedy edit

Self-deprecation is seen as a major component of the comedy of many North American comedians such as Rodney Dangerfield,[11] Woody Allen,[12] Nathan Fielder,[13] Don Knotts,[14] and Joan Rivers.[15]

In social media edit

Since the rise of social media, self-deprecating humor has become increasingly popular on certain social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, especially among Gen Z.[16][17] This phenomenon can also be observed among millennials who find satisfaction in self-humiliation.[18] Self-deprecating jokes frequently mention feeling dead inside, having a mental illness or people blaming themselves for anything bad that happens in their life.[7] These posts tend to be more popular because it allows users to not feel alone in not being able to live a perfect life.[16] According to the American Psychological Association, 91% of Gen Z between ages 18-21 in the last month have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom due to stress. This statistic is the highest rate ever recorded, demonstrating the increase of mental health issues that Gen Z experiences. In return, users turn to self-deprecating memes on social media to cope.[17]

Social media can be public yet personal and has norms most users follow to avoid being criticized. These types of self-deprecating jokes can let people feel free from the pressure of needing to appear perfect. It lets users display their less-desirable traits or habits while preventing feelings of embarrassment.[18]

Boasting on social media, just like in real life, is often perceived negatively and is another reason why users gravitate towards self-deprecation to appear more likable.[8] People also tend to like a person more if positive information about them is presented by a third party rather than from themselves, even if it is the same information. Furthermore, using self-deprecating hashtags allow individuals to be perceived as less arrogant and more humorous.[8]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Self-deprecation". The Free Dictionary. Farlex. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
  2. ^ Self-Deprecation - Personality & Spirituality
  3. ^ Self-deprecation | Define Self-deprecation at
  4. ^ a b Speer, Susan A. (2019). "Reconsidering self‐deprecation as a communication practice". The British Journal of Social Psychology. 58 (4): 806–828. doi:10.1111/bjso.12329. ISSN 0144-6665. PMC 6851542. PMID 31102414.
  5. ^ Jesper (2021-07-20). "Stop Seeking Approval: Respond to Insults Like a Stoic". Mind & Practice. Retrieved 2023-08-28.
  6. ^ Irvine, William B. (2017) [2013]. A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt—And Why They Shouldn't. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-066504-3. OCLC 1004818985.
  7. ^ a b McMullin, C. (2019). "Self-Depreciation: Why Do We Do It?". From Backpacks to Briefcases. Arcadia University. Retrieved 2022-02-24.
  8. ^ a b c d e Austin, Adrienne B.; Costabile, Kristi A.; Smith, Lauren (2021). "Social judgements, social media, and self-deprecation: Role of information source and valence on trait and favorability judgements". Journal of Media Psychology. doi:10.1027/1864-1105/a000299. S2CID 238075562.
  9. ^ a b Mills, Sara (2017). "§ 3.3.4 Self-deprecation". English Politeness and Class. Cambridge University Press. pp. 66–68. ISBN 978-1-108-34041-0.
  10. ^ "Self-Deprecation". Debrett's. Archived from the original on 5 April 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  11. ^ Muresianu, John (2 August 2021). "Liberal Arts Blog — Rodney Dangerfield (1921–2004) and the Art of Self-Deprecation". Medium. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  12. ^ Forward, The (2009-06-10). "Is self-deprecation killing Jewish comedy? - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper". Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  13. ^ Sarah, Osman. "CHATTING WITH: "NATHAN FOR YOU" CREATOR NATHAN FIELDER". Young Hollywood. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  14. ^ "Don Knotts Obituary: View Don Knotts's Obituary by The Washington Post". 2006-02-25. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  15. ^ Morris, Wesley (2010-06-20). "The many faces of Joan Rivers". The Boston Globe.
  16. ^ a b "Antisocial network: how self-deprecation is taking over the internet". The Guardian. 2016-05-25. Retrieved 2022-02-24.
  17. ^ a b Zizzo, Kira. "How Self-Deprecating Humor has Defined the Mental Health Issues of Gen Z in an Alarming Way". the Rock Online. Retrieved 2022-02-24.
  18. ^ a b "Self-deprecation on social media: for expression or for likes?". The Journal. Queen's University. 2017. Retrieved 2022-02-26.