Benedict Carey in The New York Times:
Look around you. On the train platform, at the bus stop, in the car pool lane: these days someone there is probably faking it, maintaining a job routine without having a job to go to. The Wall Street type in suspenders, with his bulging briefcase; the woman in pearls, thumbing her BlackBerry; the builder in his work boots and tool belt — they could all be headed for the same coffee shop, or bar, for the day. “I have a new client, a laid-off lawyer, who’s commuting in every day — to his Starbucks,” said Robert C. Chope, a professor of counseling at San Francisco State University and president of the employment division of the American Counseling Association. “He gets dressed up, meets with colleagues, networks; he calls it his Western White House. I have encouraged him to keep his routine.”
The fine art of keeping up appearances may seem shallow and deceitful, the very embodiment of denial. But many psychologists beg to differ. To the extent that it sustains good habits and reflects personal pride, they say, this kind of play-acting can be an extremely effective social strategy, especially in uncertain times. “If showing pride in these kinds of situations was always maladaptive, then why would people do it so often?” said David DeSteno, a psychologist at Northeastern University in Boston. “But people do, of course, and we are finding that pride is centrally important not just for surviving physical danger but for thriving in difficult social circumstances, in ways that are not at all obvious.”
For most of its existence, the field of psychology ignored pride as a fundamental social emotion. It was thought to be too marginal, too individually variable, compared with basic visceral expressions of fear, disgust, sadness or joy. Moreover, it can mean different things in different cultures.