We all know the experience of vulnerability, even if we don’t call it by that name. It’s that feeling you get when you’re about to tell someone “I love you,” try out a new skill, or ask for forgiveness. When the risk of getting rejected, laughed at, or criticized is real.
In her research, University of Houston professor and author Brené Brown has explored some of the reasons why we shy away from vulnerability. While we often celebrate it as a strength in other people, she discovered, we tend to see it as a weakness in ourselves.
“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we are afraid to let them see it in us.”
“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we are afraid to let them see it in us,” she writes. “Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.”
Researchers at the University of Mannheim wanted to test out Brown’s theory, which was based on qualitative interviews, and to find out what might underlie that discrepancy.
They recruited hundreds of German students to share their perceptions of vulnerability. Across several experiments, the…