How to recognize BIRGing and CORFing in Everyday life

street smart in today's world

Even cars practice BIRGing

Social identity theory opened up a whole new vision of the world for me when I was studying Psychology in university in Canada. One of the more memorable concepts was BIRGing, very interesting. Let us review it.

BIRGing is an acronym for Basking In Reflected Glory. If you want to see if you or someone you know is practicing BIRGing you look to see if you or the the other person is increasing self esteem by identification with another person or groups success.

For example, “We won the championship” says a sports fan who spent the day watching the games at the stadium and never participated in any of the action that brought about the teams success.

“We have the best bakery in the country” says a local student who has never baked in his life.

People in general want to be associated with success so they bask in the reflected glory of other’s actions.

In contract, when a person finds that a person or group they are associated with does not succeed the person will avoid BIRGing and instead practice CORFing.

CORFing is an acronym for Cutting Off Relected Failure.

The individual wants to distance him or herself from a negative experience of, for example, a team or group lose or failure.

The may say ‘no! I no longer belong to that group’ or ‘I don’t know that person, we only met once’.

The goal of CORFing is to protect one’s self esteem.

One of the most well known researchers in the field of Social Identity and who was involved in early research in BIRGing in the 1970s is Robert Cialdini

Cialdini is most well known for his best selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

By taking the time to understand concepts like BIRGing and CORFing we learn more about our own behaviors and how we have constructed our social identity. This empowers us to make changes if we want to.

Can you see evidence in your life of BIRGing or CORFing?

Remember to check out Cialdini’s books. Here is his latest Pre-Suasion