The Power of Vulnerability - New Study Looks At The Advantages of Showing One’s Weaknesses

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A recent study by reveals that people who are comfortable being vulnerable and willing to admit their flaws are happier, more optimistic, and have higher self-esteem than those who don’t.

Hiding vulnerabilities can be self-protective, but also self-limiting.

People who recognize their weaknesses use this self-awareness as an incentive and fuel for growth and self-improvement.

You can’t help but respect someone who has the courage to admit a flaw and the stamina to keep trying, moving forward, and striving for self-improvement.”

What draws people to superheroes? Certainly their enviable, superhuman capabilities, but also the fact that their formidableness was bred from their vulnerabilities. Batman, Green Arrow, The Crow, and even Harry Potter, used their personal tragedies as motivation to make the world a better place. Most people’s natural instinct is to hide their weaknesses, so as not to fall prey to mockery, rejection, or unscrupulous villains. While this is certainly sensible, a recent study conducted by indicates that people who are open about their flaws reap many more benefits than those who don’t.

Analyzing data from 12,259 people who took the Emotional Intelligence Test, researchers at PsychTests examined the attitude, personality, and behaviors of people who are willing to show their vulnerabilities (“Wielders”), and those who don’t (“Shielders”). Here is what the study revealed:

> They are more comfortable expressing their feelings (score of 64 vs. 39 for Shielders - a 25-point difference, on a scale from 0 to 100)
> They are better at identifying what they are feeling (score of 75 vs. 57 - an 18-point difference).
> They are more skilled at regulating their emotions (score of 65 vs. 49 - a 16-point difference)
> They are more self-aware (score of 73 vs. 59 - a 14-point difference).

> They are more satisfied with their life (score of 70 vs. 54 - a 16-point difference).
> They are more optimistic (score of 73 vs. 57 - a 16-point difference).
> They have higher self-esteem (score of 74 vs. 59 - a 15-point difference).
> They are better at motivating themselves (score of 71 vs. 58 - a 13-point difference).

> They are better at dealing with emotional situations or people (score of 68 vs. 47 - a 21-point difference).
> They are more assertive (score of 63 vs. 47 - a 16-point difference).
> They have better conflict-resolution skills (score of 78 vs. 64 - a 14-point difference).
> They have a more flexible mindset (score of 77 vs. 65 - a 12-point difference).

> They have better coping skills (score of 76 vs. 65 - an 11-point difference).
> They are more resilient (score of 77 vs. 67 - a 10-point difference).
> They are more adaptable (score of 63 vs. 53 - a 10-point difference).
> They are less likely to engage in excessive rumination (score of 39 vs. 57 - a 19-point difference).
> They have a lower need for approval from others (score of 28 vs. 40 - a 12-point difference).

“That instinct to hide our weaknesses was a valuable survival skill when humans first walked the Earth. This inclination still serves us to some degree, like when a boxer hides an injury during a fight, or a negotiator disguises his or her desperation when trying to make a deal, but there is much to be gained from acknowledging our flaws in most settings,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “It helps us connect with people on a personal level, and gives us the motivation we need to improve ourselves. This is why people who are vulnerable are also so resilient. They have the self-awareness and the courage to admit to themselves and others that they are not perfect - that they made a mistake, have a skill gap, don’t know something, or that their brain is simply not wired for a specific task. With that awareness, they can take concrete steps to remedy the situation, and by doing that, they make it clear that they refuse to let their perceived weakness hold them back. That’s not only empowering, it also makes vulnerable people endearing. You can’t help but respect someone who has the courage to admit a flaw and the stamina to keep trying, moving forward, and striving for self-improvement.”

“The irony is, if you cover up your weaknesses and refuse to work on them, you’ll always feel vulnerable, and therefore, will always feel the need to hide the truth,” according to Dr. Jerabek. “You also make it more likely that at some point, someone will call you out on the issue, and that’s exactly what the Shielders in our study fear the most. The best approach is to simply own your flaws, and then take concrete steps towards self-improvement.”

Want to assess your EQ? Check out our Emotional Intelligence Test at:

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery:

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook:

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see

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Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D
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