The psychology of people who show off

Why do people show off? What drives them to behave in a way that often makes others cringe? This article sheds light on the main reasons behind showing off.

We all know people in our social group who like to show off. On the surface, they may seem cool, superior and admirable because of what they possess. But the reality is totally different. In most cases, those who show off are feeling insecure inside. In this post, we find out why.

Reasons behind showing off

There are many reasons why a person may become showy. Though the need to show off is internal, it has a lot to do with the environment. Showing off largely depends on the environment a showy person is in. It also depends on the type of people whom he’s trying to show off to.


It’s the most common reason behind showiness. A person shows off only when he needs to. Only when he thinks that others don’t consider him important will he try to prove that he’s important.

If you know that you’re great, you don’t need to tell anyone about it. They should already know. However, if you think that they don’t know you’re great, then you’ll have to make efforts to display your greatness.

A martial arts master will never challenge you for a fight or show off his skills. He knows he’s a master. A beginner, however, will show off greatly and challenge anybody he can. He wants to prove to himself and to others that he’s good because he isn’t sure whether he’s good or not.

Similarly, a girl who feels insecure about her looks will try to show off by comparing herself to top models and actresses. A girl who knows she’s beautiful won’t feel the need to do that.

Childhood experiences

Our childhood experiences shape a lot of our adult behaviors. We try to replicate our favorable childhood experiences when we’re adults.

If a child was showered with a lot of attention from his parents and those around him, then he may try to maintain that attention level as an adult by becoming showy. This usually happens with the youngest or the only child.

The youngest or the only children usually get a lot of attention from their family and when they become adults, they seek to replicate this favorable situation.

In other words, they still seek attention but use other subtle ways. In childhood, they just had to cry or jump up and down to gain attention but as adults, they find more socially acceptable ways to do that.

It’s very common to see an only child or the youngest child obsessed with branded clothes, fast cars, high-end gadgets and stuff like that which would allow him to grab people’s attention. (Impact of birth order on personality)

people who show off brands
We all like nice things but an obsession with showing them off points to some other underlying need.

Accept me

A showy person usually doesn’t show off in front of everyone but only in front of those whom he wants to impress. If a person likes someone, then he’s very likely to show off in front of them to gain their love and acceptance.

I’ve observed it so many times. Just minutes into the conversation and the showy person has already started bragging.

I can confidently assume that you know at least one person who likes to say great things about himself in front of you but not others. The reality is- he just wants you to like him because he likes you.

Show off and Identity

What are the types of things that a person usually shows off?

The type of things that reinforce a particular identity that the person likes about himself. If a person has an identity of, say, an intellectual i.e. he sees himself as an intellectual, then he’ll definitely show off things that reinforce this identity.

These may include showing off the books he has read or the degrees he has collected.

Similarly, If they have an identity of being an intelligent person, then they’ll love to show off things that prove how intelligent they are.

Final words

If you really are amazing and if you believe others also consider you amazing, then you won’t need to prove it. We only show off when we think that others are evaluating us negatively or when we are in need of attention.

Show off is just your mind’s attempt to improve your image and you will only try to improve your image if you think there’s something wrong with it.

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