Want to know why casting headlines as “fake news” gets traction with so many people? The strategy, say psychologists, is “plausible deniability,” meaning the claim cannot be proven wrong in the moment. The strategy is often put to use by overly confident politicians and business leaders among others, say researchers at the University of Notre Dame.

How does a boss or a president get away with it? Psychologists have a word for that, too—it’s the “accountability loophole.” And the overly confident person who is able to successfully slip through the loop is exuding confidence in non-verbal ways, such as speaking in a bullying voice.

According to a recent study at the University of Notre Dame, participants would rather work with self-confident people than cautious ones but switched preferences if they sensed over-confidence.

Having a self-confident personality style is a plus, contributing to success in many aspects of life, but to get your message across without appearing overly confident, even arrogant, temper your confidence with some non-verbal cues, such as making eye contact, gesturing, speaking in a strong but not aggressive voice, and maintaining an open and welcoming posture.

Take the NPSP test at to learn how much of a role self-confidence plays in your personality.

Source: Elizabeth R. Tenney, Nathan L. Meikle, et al. Is overconfidence a social liability? The effect of verbal versus nonverbal expressions of confidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2018; DOI: 10.1037/pspi00001


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