The Beautiful Mess Effect

Other People Don’t Think You’re a Mess

The good news is that, according to research, our worries about the negative evaluations of others may not be entirely reflected in the way people actually see us in difficult moments. Building on prior pioneering studies of vulnerability by researcher Brené Brown at the University of Houston, my colleagues and I conducted six experiments that revealed consistent results: Across a variety of situations, such as asking for help or admitting to a mistake, people perceived their own displays of vulnerability more negatively than others did. We refer to this pattern of conflicting perceptions as the “beautiful mess effect.”