Hubris, Arrogance, and Haughtiness

Ezra Taft Benson said that pride manifests itself in different ways, which he called the “faces of pride.” Some of the manifestations he identified were selfishness, contention, defensiveness, and unwillingness to repent. (See “Beware of Pride,” General Conference, April 1989.)

I’ve been thinking today about a few other manifestations of pride. These thoughts were prompted by the following passages in which Isaiah condemns “haughtiness:”

  • “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11, 2 Nephi 12:11). (This warning is repeated nearly verbatim in verse 17.)
  • “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.” (Isaiah 3:16-17, 2 Nephi 13:16-17).
  • “Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled” (Isaiah 10:33, 2 Nephi 20:33).
  • “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible” (Isaiah 13:11, 2 Nephi 23:11).

Here are the three forms of pride that I’ve been thinking about today:

  1. Hubris means excessive self-confidence, exaggerating your knowledge and abilities in your own mind. It leads to embarrassment, for obvious reasons, as your performance inevitably falls short of your expectations. Hubris is specifically about self-perception, not about our relationship with other people.
  2. Arrogance takes hubris to the next level. We not only inflate our own self-confidence, but we also compare other people unfavorably to us, inaccurately minimizing their value.
  3. Haughtiness combines arrogance with contempt. We not only think we’re better than other people; we treat them with disrespect.

President Benson said that pride is easy to identify in others but difficult to recognize in ourselves. We may only notice hubris when we attempt to do something beyond our abilities and fail. Arrogance may only be detectible if we carefully monitor our thoughts. But haughtiness manifests itself in our behavior. We certainly ought to notice when we are treating other people disrespectfully.

John Gottman conducted decades of research on marriage, and found that treating one another with contempt was the most reliable predictor of divorce. His website includes the following examples of contemptuous behavior: “sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor.” The antidote, he says, is to regularly express appreciation and gratitude, even for little things. Recognizing the good in other people helps us see them more clearly and enables us to keep negative experiences in perspective. (See “The Four Horsemen: The Antidotes,” from the website of the Gottman Instititute.)

Today, I will watch for signs of pride in myself. I will strive to avoid inflating my perception of my own abilities and discounting the abilities of others. I will particularly watch for signs of haughtiness, and I will avoid the temptation to treat others disrespectfully by expressing appreciation regularly.

4 thoughts on “Hubris, Arrogance, and Haughtiness

Add yours

  1. Thankyou! This morning as I prayed, I prayed about this. Then here you posted this. It helps me see and understand it better so I can be better!


  2. President Bensons talk has always been a favorite of mine and is extremely profound. I usually don’t feel I’m that vulnerable to pride but your post helped me see the subtle ways it can creep in. Thank you for your enlightening words.


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