Self-enhancementWikipedia Open wikipedia design.
Self-enhancement is a type of motivation that works to make people feel good about themselves and to maintain self-esteem. This motive becomes especially prominent in situations of threat, failure or blows to one's self-esteem. Self-enhancement involves a preference for positive over negative self-views. It is one of the four self-evaluation motives along with self-assessment (the drive for an accurate self-concept), self-verification (the drive for a self-concept congruent with one's identity) and self-improvement (the act of bettering one's self-concept). Self-evaluation motives drive the process of self-regulation, that is, how people control and direct their own actions.
There are a variety of strategies that people can use to enhance their sense of personal worth. For example, they can downplay skills that they lack or they can criticise others to seem better by comparison. These strategies are successful, in that people tend to think of themselves as having more positive qualities and fewer negative qualities than others. Although self-enhancement is seen in people with low self-esteem as well as with high self-esteem, these two groups tend to use different strategies. People who already have high esteem enhance their self-concept directly, by processing new information in a biased way. People with low self-esteem use more indirect strategies, for example by avoiding situations in which their negative qualities will be noticeable.
There are controversies over whether or not self-enhancement is beneficial to the individual, and over whether self-enhancement is culturally universal or specific to Western individualism.
- 1 Levels
- 2 Dimensions
- 3 Types
- 3.1 Self-serving attribution bias
- 3.2 Selectivity
- 3.3 Strategies
- 3.4 Behavioural self-handicapping
- 4 Outcomes
- 5 Constraints
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Self-enhancement can occur in many different situations and under many different guises. The general motive of self-enhancement can have many differing underlying explanations, each of which becomes more or less dominant depending on the situation.
The explanations of the self-enhancement motive can occur in different combinations. Self-enhancement can occur as an underlying motive or personality trait without occurring as an observed effect.
|Observed Effect||Self-enhancement at the level of an observed effect describes the product of the motive. For example, self-enhancement can produce inflated self-ratings (positive illusions). Such ratings would be self-enhancement manifested as an observed effect. It is an observable instance of the motive.|
|Ongoing Process||Self-enhancement at the level of an ongoing process describes the actual operation of the motive. For example, self-enhancement can result in attributing favourable outcomes to the self and unfavourable outcomes to others (self-serving attribution bias). The actual act of attributing such ratings would be self-enhancement manifested as an ongoing process. It is the motive in operation.|
|Personality Trait||Self-enhancement at the level of a personality trait describes habitual or inadvertent self-enhancement. For example, self-enhancement can cause situations to be created to ease the pain of failure (self-handicapping). The fabrication of such situations or excuses frequently and without awareness would be self-enhancement manifested as a personality trait. It is the repetitive inclination to demonstrate the motive.|
|Underlying Motive||Self-enhancement at the level of an underlying motive describes the conscious desire to self-enhance. For example, self-enhancement can cause the comparison of the self to a worse other, making the self seem greater in comparison (strategic social comparisons). The act of comparing intentionally to achieve superiority would be self-enhancement manifested as an underlying motive. It is the genuine desire to see the self as superior.|
|The four levels of self-enhancement manifestation as defined by Sedikides & Gregg (2008)|
Both the extent and the type of self-enhancement vary across a number of dimensions.
Self-advancement vs. self-protection
Self-enhancement can occur by either self-advancing or self-protecting, that is either by enhancing the positivity of one's self-concept, or by reducing the negativity of one's self-concept. Self-protection appears to be the stronger of the two motives, given that avoiding negativity is of greater importance than encouraging positivity. However, as with all motivations, there are differences between individuals. For example, people with higher self-esteem appear to favour self-advancement, whereas people with lower self-esteem tend to self-protect. This highlights the role of risk: to not defend oneself against negativity in favour of self-promotion offers the potential for losses, whereas whilst one may not gain outright from self-protection, one does not incur the negativity either. People high in self-esteem tend to be greater risk takers and therefore opt for the more risky strategy of self-advancement, whereas those low in self-esteem and risk-taking hedge their bets with self-protection.
Public vs. private
Self–enhancement can occur in private or in public. Public self-enhancement is obvious positive self-presentation, whereas private self enhancement is unnoticeable except to the individual. The presence of other people i.e. in public self-enhancement, can either augment or inhibit self-enhancement. Whilst self-enhancement may not always take place in public it is nevertheless still influenced by the social world, for example via social comparisons.
Central vs. peripheral
Potential areas of self-enhancement differ in terms how important, or central, they are to a person. Self-enhancement tends to occur more in the domains that are the most important to a person, and less in more peripheral, less important domains.
Candid vs. tactical
Self-enhancement can occur either candidly or tactically. Candid self-enhancement serves the purpose of immediate gratification whereas tactical self-enhancement can result in potentially larger benefits from delayed gratification.
Tactical self-enhancement is often preferred over candid self-enhancement as overt self-enhancement is socially displeasing for those around it. Narcissism is an exemplification of extreme candid self-enhancement.
Self-enhancement does not just occur at random. Its incidence is often highly systematic and can occur in any number of ways in order to achieve its goal of inflating perceptions of the self. Importantly, we are typically unaware that we are self-enhancing. Awareness of self-enhancing processes would highlight the facade we are trying to create, revealing that the self we perceive is in fact an enhanced version of our actual self.
Self-serving attribution bias
Self-enhancement can also affect the causal explanations people generate for social outcomes. People have a tendency to exhibit a self-serving attribution bias, that is to attribute positive outcomes to one's internal disposition but negative outcomes to factors beyond one's control e.g. others, chance or circumstance. In short, people claim credit for their successes but deny responsibilities for their failures. The self-serving attribution bias is very robust, occurring in public as well as in private, even when a premium is placed on honesty. People most commonly manifest a self-serving bias when they explain the origin or events in which they personally had a hand or a stake.
Explanations for moral transgressions follow similar self-serving patterns, as do explanations for group behaviour. The ultimate attribution error is the tendency to regard negative acts by one's out-group and positive acts by one's in-group as essential to their nature i.e. attributable to their internal disposition and not a product of external factors. This may reflect the operation of the self-serving bias refracted through social identification.
|Selective attention||People typically avoid attending to negative, unflattering information at encoding, therefore its initial recognition is impaired. Selective attention manifests itself in the form of an overt behaviour via selective exposure.|
|Selective exposure||People selectively expose themselves to information that justifies important prior decisions they have made. This holds true so long as the information appears to be valid and the decision that was made was done so freely and is irreversible.|
|Selective recall||At retrieval people bring to mind a highly biased collection of memories. Selective recall occurs for behaviours that exemplify desirable personality traits, harmonious interpersonal relationships or even health enhancing habits. Affect associated with unpleasant memories also fades faster than affect associated with pleasant memories.|
People sometimes self-enhance by selectively remembering their strengths rather than weaknesses. This pattern of selective forgetting has been described as mnemic neglect. Mnemic neglect may reflect biases in the processing of information at either encoding, retrieval or retention.
- Biases at encoding occur via selective attention and selective exposure.
- Biases at retrieval and retention occur via selective recall.
The role of mnemic neglect can be emphasised or reduced by the characteristics of a certain behaviour or trait. For example, after receiving false feedback pertaining to a variety of behaviours, participants recalled more positive behaviours than negative ones, but only when the behaviours exemplified central not peripheral traits and only when feedback pertained to the self and not to others. Similar findings emerge when the to-be-recalled information is personality traits, relationship promoting or undermining behaviours, frequencies of social acts, and autobiographical memories.
Selective acceptance and refutation
Selective acceptance involves taking as fact self-flattering or ego-enhancing information with little regard for its validity. Selective refutation involves searching for plausible theories that enable criticism to be discredited. A good example of selective acceptance and refutation in action would be: Selective acceptance is the act of accepting as valid an examination on which one has performed well without consideration of alternatives, whereas selective refutation would be mindfully searching for reasons to reject as invalid an examination on which one has performed poorly.
Concordant with selective acceptance and refutation is the observation that people hold a more critical attitude towards blame placed upon them, but a more lenient attitude to praise that they receive. People will strongly contest uncongenial information but readily accept at without question congenial information
The social nature of the world we live in means that self-evaluation cannot take place in an absolute nature – comparison to other social beings is inevitable. Many social comparisons occur automatically as a consequence of circumstance, for example within an exam sitting social comparisons of intellect may occur to those sitting the same exam. However, the strength of the self-enhancement motive can cause the subjective exploitation of scenarios in order to give a more favourable outcome to the self in comparisons between the self and others. Such involuntary social comparisons prompt self-regulatory strategies.
Self-esteem moderates the beneficial, evaluative consequences of comparisons to both inferior and superior others. People with higher self-esteem are more optimistic about both evading the failures and misfortunes of their inferiors and about securing the successes and good fortunes of their superiors.
An upwards social comparison involves comparing oneself to an individual perceived to be superior to or better than oneself. Upwards social comparison towards someone felt to be similar to oneself can induce self-enhancement through assimilation of the self and other's characteristics, however this only occurs when:
- The gap between the self and the comparison target is not too large;
- The skill or success being compared is attainable;
- The comparison target is perceived as a competitor.
Where assimilation does not occur as a result of a social comparison, contrast can instead occur which can lead to upwards social comparisons providing inspiration.
Even though upwards social comparisons are the most common social comparisons, people do sometimes make downwards social comparisons. Downwards social comparisons involve comparing oneself to an individual perceived to be inferior to or less skilled than the self. Downwards social comparisons serve as a form of ego-defence whereby the ego is inflated due to the sense of superiority gained from such downwards social comparisons.
Lateral social comparisons, comparisons against those perceived as equal to the self, can also be self-enhancing. Comparisons with members of one's in-group can lead be protective against low self-esteem, especially when the in-group are disadvantaged.
Self-evaluation maintenance theory
Self-enhancement waxes and wanes as a function of one's ability level in the context of interpersonal relationships, and this, in turn influences interpersonal attitudes and behaviours. Three factors influence the self-evaluations people make:
- Closeness of a relationship: comparison of one's own performance with that of another is more likely to occur, and when it does is more consequential when others are close rather than distant.
- Personal relevance of a particular ability: when the domain is not relevant to oneself reflection will occur and when the domain is relevant comparison will occur.
- Reflection: one will undergo self-enhancement (pride) when the other does well, but self-derogation (shame) when the other does poorly.
- Comparison: one will undergo self-derogation (humiliation) if others perform well, but self-enhancement (triumph) if the other performs poorly.
- Level of performance in that ability domain.
People adopt a variety of coping strategies to deal with the pressures of self-evaluation:
- Choose friends and partners who excel, but not in the same domains as they do;
- Withhold information that is likely to improve the performance of others of personally relevant domains;
- Alter the relevance of performance domains by changing their self-concept, thus moderating the impact of the reflection and comparison processes;
- Broaden or narrow the gap between the oneself and others, even by deliberately altering the difficulty of domain-relevant tasks.
The concepts that people use to understand themselves and their social world are relatively vague. Consequently, when making social comparisons or estimations people can easily and subtly shift their construal of the meaning of those concepts in order to self-enhance. Strategic construals typically increase following negative feedback. Numerous examples of strategic construals exist, a small selection include:
- People's interpretation of what counts as a virtue or talent is biased in favour of the attributes they possess, and of what counts as a vice or deficiency in favour of attributes they lack.
- People rate personality feedback and scientific research as less credible if it implies they are susceptible to disease.
- Lazy people perceive the rest of the world as reasonably fit and healthy, whereas frequent exercisers see their athleticism as a single, unique attribute.
- Low achievers in a particular area are likely to perceive the successes of high achievers as exceptional, thereby lessening the shame of their own inability.
- People think harder about any discouraging test results they receive, will spend longer thinking about them, are more inclined to have them confirmed and are significantly more skeptical of them. People do not react the same way to test results received by others however.
- When research tarnishes the reputation of groups with which people identify, they search for a statistical weakness of that research.
- Strategic construals can also be more subtle. People make self-aggrandizing interpretations not only of their own attributes, but also of others in order to appear greater by comparison.
Strategic construals appear to operate around one's self-esteem. After either positive or negative feedback people with high self-esteem alter their perceptions of others, typically varying their perceptions of others ability and performance in a self-enhancing direction. Those with low self-esteem however do not. Self-esteem level appears to moderate the use of strategic construals. As well as operating as a function of self-esteem level, strategic construals also appear to protect self-esteem levels. For example, members of minority groups who perform poorly in academic settings due to negative cultural attitudes towards them, subsequently disengage psychologically from, and dissidentify with academic pursuits in general. Whilst buffering their self-esteem level they jeopardise their future socioeconomic prospects.
Strategic construals also influence the degree to which categories are believed to characterise other people. There is a general tendency to assume that others share one's own characteristics. Nevertheless, people reliably overestimate the prevalence of their shortcomings e.g. show enhanced false consensus effect, and underestimate the prevalence of their strengths e.g. show a contrary false uniqueness effect. People perceive their flaws as relatively commonplace but their skills as unique.
Behavioural self-handicapping is the act of erecting obstacles in the path of task success in order to reduce the evaluative implications that can be drawn from task performance. This permits self-enhancement to occur in two ways:
- In the case of failure, self-handicapping can protect self-esteem by attributing failure to obstacles that one has erected – discounting.
- In the case of success, self-handicapping can promote self-esteem by attributing success to oneself despite the obstacles one has erected – augmenting.
People low in self-esteem opt for discounting as a self-protective route to avoid being perceived as incompetent, whereas people high in self-esteem preferentially select augmenting as a method of self-promotion to enhance their perceived competence,. Self-handicapping, whilst predominantly a behaviour that occurs in private performance is magnified in public situations. However, self-handicapping is highly risky in social situations. If found out, those who use it face the negative evaluation and criticism of others.
|Factors promoting behavioural self-handicapping |
|Task familiarity||Uncertainty over ability to obtain a positive outcome due to experience of limited control over a similar task|
|Task complexity||Holding a very fixed, concrete theory of the complexity of a task|
|Insecurity||Uncertainty over ability to obtain a positive outcome due to generally insecure sense of self|
|Belief||Holding the belief that improvement is physically possible|
|Importance||A task or evaluation has to be important to the self in order for self-handicapping to occur|
|Feedback||Negative feedback makes self-handicapping more probable as it allows any damage to the ego to be rectified|
|Neuroticism||High neuroticism promotes discounting|
|Conscientiousness||Low conscientiousness can increase the tendency to self-handicap|
Regardless of the causes of self-handicapping the self-defeating end result remains the same – the integrity and quality of a task outcome or evaluation is compromised in order that the meaning of that outcome appears more agreeable. Behavioural self-handicapping is a good demonstration of active self-deception.
Whilst task performance is important to people, they do sometimes act in ways so as to paradoxically impair task performance, either to protect against the shame of performing poorly by creating a convenient excuse (discounting), or to enhance themselves by succeeding despite adversity by creating grounds for conceit (augmenting). Furthermore, self-handicapping can have unintentional adverse consequences. Whilst allowing the maintenance of positive self-views self-handicapping has the cost of impairing objective performance. Students who report frequent use self-handicapping strategies underperform relative to their aptitude, with poor examination preparation mediating the effect.
Ultimately, those who readily prepare themselves for the possibility of poor task performance beforehand use the strategy of discounting less.
The effect of self-enhancement strategies is shown in the tendency of people to see themselves as having more positive qualities and a more positive future outlook than others.
People generally hold unrealistically positive views about themselves. Such flattering views can often be neatly categorised within what has become known as the Triad of Positive Illusions. The three illusions in question are Above-average effect, illusions of control, and Unrealistic optimism. These illusions can be replicated across many situations and are highly resistant to revision. Rather ironically, when informed of the existence of such illusions, people generally consider themselves to be less prone to them than others.
The better-than-average-effect is the most common demonstration of an above-average effect. It is a highly robust effect, as evidenced by the fact that even when the criteria on which the self and others are judged are identical the self is still perceived more favourably. Things close to the self also take on the perceived superiority of the above-average effect. People value both their close relationships and their personal possessions above those of others. However, where an outcome is perceived as highly skilled, people often err on the side of caution and display a worse-than-average effect. The majority of people would rate themselves as below average in unicycling ability, for example.
The illusory nature of the above-average effect comes from the fact that not everyone can be above-average – otherwise the average would not be the average! The majority of people rating themselves as being better than the majority of people does not quite seem plausible, and in some situations is 100% impossible. Where a distribution is symmetrical i.e. mean = median = mode, it is statistically impossible for the majority of people to be above average, as whichever of the three averages is taken, all are equal to the 50th percentile. In a non-symmetrical distribution i.e. mean < median < mode or mode < median < mean, it is statistically impossible for the majority of people to be above average when the average is taken to be the median, as the median represents the 50th percentile, or the midpoint of the data. However, in a non-symmetrical distribution where the average is taken to be either the mean or the mode, the above-average effect can be statistically plausible. In some situations the majority of people can be above-average!
People show self-enhancement in the form of the above-average effect in many different ways. It is typical for people to profess to be above-average at a task yielding positive or desirable outcomes, and below average at a task yielding negative or undesirable outcomes.
Some of the wide variety of documented examples of the above-average effect include observations that:
- Most university students regard themselves as well above the 50th percentile in exhibiting social grace, athletic prowess and leadership abilities.
- Even 12th percentile achievers in domains such as grammar and logic consider themselves to be of 62nd percentile achievement.
- 94% of university professors believe their teaching ability to be above average.
- University students in the UK and the US regard themselves as above average drivers. Even drivers hospitalised after causing accidents persist in believing they are no worse than regular drivers.
- Even when informed about the above average effect people rate themselves as less susceptible to such biases than others.
Illusions of control
People overestimate the level of control they have over outcomes and contingencies, seeing their actions as influential even when they are in fact inconsequential. Also, people stand by their apparent conviction that they can influence the outcomes of inherently random systems for example lotteries, especially when such systems possess features typically associated with skill-based tasks. Even when a degree of contingency does exist between actions and outcomes, people still reliably overestimate the strength of that contingency.
People typically believe that their life will hold a greater number of positive experiences and fewer negative experiences than the lives of similar others. They have the same unrealistic optimism, but to a lesser degree, for others who are closely linked, such as romantic partners and close personal friends.
Unrealistic optimism is apparent in people's behaviours and beliefs across many different situations. People can both overestimate their ability to predict the future, and underestimate how long it will take them to complete a variety of tasks. People also overestimate the accuracy of their social predictions, and interpret probability adverbs to award higher values for personal positive outcomes and lower values for personal negative outcomes. Smokers, rather alarmingly, underestimate their risk of cancer relative to both non-smokers and even in comparison with fellow smokers.
Benefits and costs to the individual
There is controversy over whether self-enhancement is adaptive or maladaptive. A single operationalisation of self-enhancement can be influenced by a variety of motives and thus can be coordinated with both positive and negative outcomes. Those who misperceive their performance (self-enhancers and self-effacers) tend to have a lower academic achievement, lower subsequent performance . These results appear to be culturally universal. Surely, it's a false assumption to relate self enhancement to depression.
- If self-enhancement is taken to mean rendering more positive judgments of oneself than of others then outcomes are frequently favourable.
- If self-enhancement is taken to mean the rendering of more positive judgements of oneself than others render then outcomes are often untoward.
Which definition is better at measuring self-enhancement has been disputed, as rating oneself more positively than one rates others is not seen as self-enhancement by some researchers.
In some studies, self-enhancement has been shown to have strong positive links with good mental health and in others with bad mental health. Self-enhancing can also have social costs. Whilst promoting resilience amongst survivors of the September 11th terrorist attacks, those who self-enhanced were rated as having decreased social adaptation and honesty by friends and family.
Self-enhancement thrives upon the vagueness or ambiguity of evidence. Where criteria are rigidly defined, self-enhancement typically reduces. For example, the above-average effect decreases as clarity and definition of the defined trait increases. The easier it is to verify a behaviour or trait, the less that trait will be subject to self-enhancement. The plausibility of a trait or characteristic given real world evidence moderates the degree to which the self-enhancement of that trait occurs. Selectively recalling instances of desirable traits is moderated by one's actual standing on those traits in reality.
When plausibility reduces the impact of self-enhancement, undesirable evidence often has to be accepted, albeit reluctantly. This typically occurs when all possible interpretations of the evidence in question have been made. The reason for this unwilling acceptance is to maintain effective social functioning, where unqualified self-aggrandizement would otherwise prevent it. People will continue to self-enhance so long as they think they can get away with it.
The constraint of plausibility on self enhancement exists because self-enhancing biases cannot be exploited. Self-enhancement works only under the assumption of rationality – to admit to self-enhancing totally undermines any conclusions one can draw and any possibility of believing its facade, since according to legit rational processes it functions as a genuinely verifiable and accredited improvement.
Both positive and negative moods can reduce the presence of the self-enhancement motive. The effects of mood on self-enhancement can be explained by a negative mood making the use self-enhancing tactics harder, and a positive mood making their use less necessary in the first place.
The onset of a positive mood can make people more receptive to negative diagnostic feedback. Past successes are reviewed with expectation of receiving such positive feedback, presumably to buffer their mood.
Depression has quite a well-evidenced link with a decrease in the motive to self-enhance. Depressives are less able to self-enhance in response to negative feedback than non-depressive controls. Having a depressive disposition decreases the discrepancy between one's own estimates of one's virtues and the estimates of a neutral observer, namely by increasing modesty. Illusions of control are moderated by melancholy. However, whilst the self-ratings of depressives are more in line with those of neutral observers than the self ratings of normals, the self ratings of normals are more in line with those of friends and family than the self ratings of depressives.
Social context and relationships
The presence of the motive to self-enhance is dependent on many social situations, and the relationships shared with the people in them. Many different materialisations of self-enhancement can occur depending on such social contexts:
- The self-enhancement motive is weaker during interactions with close and significant others.
- When friends (or previous strangers whose intimacy levels have been enhanced) cooperate on a task, they do not exhibit a self-serving attribution bias.
- Casual acquaintances and true strangers however do exhibit a self-serving attribution bias.
- Where no self-serving bias is exhibited in a relationship, a betrayal of trust in the relationship will reinstate the self-serving bias. This corresponds to findings that relationship satisfaction is inversely correlated with the betrayal of trust.
- Both mutual liking and expectation of reciprocity appear to mediate graciousness in the presence of others.
- Whilst people have a tendency to self-present boastfully in front of strangers, this inclination disappears in the presence of friends.
- Others close to the self are generally more highly evaluated than more distant others.
|Westerners typically...||Easterners typically...|
|Prioritise intradependence||Prioritise interdependence|
|Place greater importance on individualistic values||Place greater importance on collectivistic values|
|Have more inflated ratings of their own merits||Have less inflated ratings of their own merits|
|Emphasise internal attributes||Emphasise relational attributes|
|Show self-enhancement that overshadows self-criticism||Show self-criticism that overshadows self-enhancement|
|Give spontaneously more positive self-descriptions||Give spontaneously more negative self-descriptions|
|Make fewer self-deprecatory social comparisons||Make more self-deprecatory social comparisons|
|Hold more unrealistically optimistic views of the future||Hold fewer unrealistically optimistic views of the future|
|Display a self-serving attributional bias||Do not display a self-serving attributional bias|
|Show a weak desire to self-improve via self-criticism||Show a strong desire to self-improve via self-criticism|
|Are eager to conclude better performance than a classmate||Are reluctant to conclude better performance than a classmate|
|Reflexively discount negative feedback||Readily acknowledge negative feedback|
|Persist more after initial success||Persist more after initial failure|
|Consider tasks in which they succeed to be most diagnostic||Consider tasks in which they fail to be most diagnostic|
|Self-enhance on the majority of personality dimensions||Self-enhance only on some personality dimensions|
|Self-enhance on individualistic attributes||Self-enhance on collectivist attributes|
Self-enhancement appears to be a phenomenon largely limited to Western cultures, where social ties are looser than in the East. This is concordant with empirical evidence highlighting relationship closeness as a constraint on self-enhancement. The self-improvement motive, as an aspiration towards a possible self may also moderate a variety of psychological processes in both independent and interdependent cultures.
There are nevertheless signs that self-enhancement is not completely absent in interdependent cultures. Chinese schoolchildren rate themselves highly on the dimension of competence, and Taiwanese employees rate themselves more favourably than their employers do, both of which show self-enhancing tendencies in Eastern cultures.
One possible explanation for the observed differences in self-enhancement between cultures is that they may occur through differences in how candidly of tactically the motive to self-enhance is acted upon, and not due to variations in the strength of motive. Alternatively, self-enhancement may be represented only in terms of the characteristics that are deemed important by individuals as they strive to fulfil their culturally prescribed roles.
The issue over whether self-enhancement is universal or specific to Western cultures has been contested within modern literature by two researchers — Constantine Sedikides and Steven Heine. Sedikides argues that self-enhancement is universal, and that different cultures self-enhance in domains important in their culture. Heine on the other hand describes self-enhancement as a predominantly Western motive.
It is an exaggeration to say that self-enhancement is the dominant self motive. Many controversies exist regarding the distinction between the self-motives, and there are situations in which motives asides from self-enhancement assume priority.
- The self-assessment motive is often contrasted with the self-enhancement motive due to the relative adaptiveness of each approach within social interactions.
- The self-verification motive is often challenged by supporters of the self-enhancement as being unfeasible as it often appears implausible.
- The self-improvement motive is often taken to be the physical manifestation of the self-enhancement motive i.e. the act of attaining desired positive self views.
Where the truth about oneself worsens or varies it gradually becomes less feasible to satisfy all motives simultaneously.
In an attempt to compare the self-evaluation motives (excluding self-improvement) a self-reflection task was employed. Participants were asked to choose the question they would most likely ask themselves in order to determine whether they possessed a certain personality trait. On the whole, people self-enhanced more than they self-assessed or self-verified. People chose higher diagnosticity questions concerning central, positive traits than central, negative ones, and answered yes more often to central, positive than negative questions. Also, people self-verified more than the self-assessed, and chose more questions overall concerning relatively certain central traits than relatively uncertain peripheral traits.
- Cognitive load: Where people are in situations of great cognitive load, the tendency to self-enhance increases, almost as if instinctive. People are quicker to agree with possessing positive traits and slower to reject having negative traits
- Modifiability: Where a trait or characteristic is seen as unchangeable people are more self-enhancing versus perceiving the trait to be modifiable
- Diagnosticity: Where a trait or characteristic is seen as highly diagnostic people are less likely to self-enhance, for fear of being caught out in the process of an erroneous attempt at self enhancement as neurosis
- Sedikides, C.; Strube, M. J. (1995), "The Multiply Motivated Self", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21 (12): 1330–1335, doi:10.1177/01461672952112010, ISSN 0146-1672,
The self-enhancement motive refers to people's desire to enhance the positivity or decrease the negativity of the self-concept.
- Beauregard, Keith S.; Dunning, David (1998), "Turning up the contrast: Self-enhancement motives prompt egocentric contrast effects in social judgments", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 (3): 606–621, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.116, ISSN 0022-3514, PMID 9523408.
- Krueger, J. (1998), "Enhancement Bias in Descriptions of Self and Others", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24 (5): 505–516, doi:10.1177/0146167298245006, ISSN 0146-1672.
- Wills, Thomas A. (1981), "Downward comparison principles in social psychology", Psychological Bulletin, 90 (2): 245–271, doi:10.1037/0033-2909.90.2.245, ISSN 0033-2909.
- Sedikides, Constantine; Gregg, Aiden P. (2008), "Self-Enhancement: Food for Thought", Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3 (2): 102–116, doi:10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00068.x, ISSN 1745-6916, PMID 26158877.
- Kunda 1999, pp. 485–486
- Kunda 1999, pp. 465–466
- Arkin, R. M. (1981), Self-presentation styles. In J. Tedeschi (Ed.), Impression management theory and research (pp. 311-333). New York: Academic Press
- Baumeister, R. F.; Bratslavsky, Ellen; Finkenauer, Catrin & Vohs, Kathleen D. (2001), "Bad is stronger than good", Review of General Psychology, 5 (4): 323–370, doi:10.1037/1089-2618.104.22.1683
- Tice, Dianne M. (1991), "Esteem protection or enhancement? Self-handicapping motives and attributions differ by trait self-esteem", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60 (5): 711–725, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1241, ISSN 0022-3514.
- Josephs, R. A.; Larrick, RP; Steele, CM; Nisbett, RE (1992), "Protecting the self from the negative consequences of risky decisions", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62 (1): 26–37, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199, PMID 1538314
- Brown, J. D. & Gallagher, Frances M (1992), "Coming to terms with failure: Private self-enhancement and public self-effacement", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 28: 3–22, doi:10.1016/0022-1031(92)90029-J
- Leary, M. R. & Kowalski, Robin M. (1990), "Impression management: A literature review and two component model", Psychological Bulletin, 107: 34–47, doi:10.1037/0033-2909.107.1.34
- Greenwald, A. G. & Breckler, S. J. (1985), "To whom is the self presented?", in B. E. Schlenker, The self and social life, New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 126–145
- Leary, M. R.; Tchividjian, LR & Kraxberger, BE (1994), "Self-presentation can be hazardous to your health: Impression management and health risk", Health Psychology, 13 (6): 461–470, doi:10.1037/0278-6188.8.131.521, PMID 7889900
- Sedikides, C.; Campbell, W. K.; Reeder, G. & Elliot, A. J. (1998), "The self-serving bias in relational context", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 (2): 378–79, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2068
- Klein, W. M. (1997), "Objective standards are not enough: Affective, self-evaluative and behavioural responses to social comparison information", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72 (4): 763–774, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.113, PMID 9108694
- Crocker, J. & Wolfe, C. T. (2001), "Contingencies of self-worth", Psychological Review, 108 (3): 592–623, doi:10.1037/0033-295X.108.3.593, PMID 11488379
- Crocker, J. (2002), "Contingencies of self-worth: Implications for self-regulation and psychological vulnerability", Self and Identity, 1 (2): 143–149, doi:10.1080/152988602317319320
- Sedikides, Constantine; Gaertner, Lowell; Toguchi, Yoshiyasu (2003), "Pancultural self-enhancement", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84 (1): 60–79, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.168, ISSN 1939-1315, PMID 12518971.
- Sedikides, C; Strube, M (1997), "Self-Evaluation: To Thine Own Self Be Good, To Thine Own Self Be Sure, To Thine Own Self Be True, and To Thine Own Self be Better", Advances in Experimental Social Psychology Volume 29, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 29, pp. 209–269, doi:10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60018-0, ISBN 9780120152292, ISSN 0065-2601. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 29, pp. 209-269). New York: Academic Press.
- Sedikides, C.; Gregg., A. P. & Hart, C. M. (2007), "The importance of being modest", in C. Sedikides & S. Spencer, The self: Frontiers in social psychology, New York: Psychology Press, pp. 163–184
- Vazire, S., & Funder, D. C.; Funder, DC (2006), "Impulsivity and the self-defeating behaviour of narcissists", Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10 (2): 154–165, doi:10.1207/s15327957pspr1002_4, PMID 16768652
- Mezulis, Amy H.; Abramson, Lyn Y.; Hyde, Janet S.; Hankin, Benjamin L. (2004), "Is There a Universal Positivity Bias in Attributions? A Meta-Analytic Review of Individual, Developmental, and Cultural Differences in the Self-Serving Attributional Bias", Psychological Bulletin, 130 (5): 711–747, doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.5.711, ISSN 0033-2909, PMID 15367078.
- Schlenker, Barry R.; Miller, Rowland S. (1977), "Egocentrism in groups: Self-serving biases or logical information processing?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35 (10): 755–764, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1245, ISSN 0022-3514.
- Greenberg, J; Pyszczynski, Tom; Solomon, Sheldon (1982), "The self-serving attributional bias: Beyond self-presentation", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 18 (1): 56–67, doi:10.1016/0022-1031(82)90081-6, ISSN 0022-1031.
- Riess, Marc; Rosenfeld, Paul; Melburg, Valerie; Tedeschi, James T. (1981), "Self-serving attributions: Biased private perceptions and distorted public descriptions", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41 (2): 224–231, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199, ISSN 0022-3514.
- Campbell, W. K. & Sedikides, Constantine (1999), "Self-threat magnifies the self-serving bias: A meta-analytic integration", Review of General Psychology, 3: 23–43, doi:10.1037/1089-26188.8.131.52
- Zuckerman, M. (1979), "Attribution of success and failure revisited, of: The motivational bias is alive and well in attribution theory", Journal of Personality, 47 (2): 245–287, doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1979.tb00202.x
- Baumeister, R. F.; Stillwell, A & Wotman, SR (1990), "Victim and perpetrator accounts of interpersonal conflict: Autobiographical narratives about anger", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59 (5): 994–1005, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2064, PMID 2266485
- Gonzales, M. H., Pederson, J. H., Manning, D. J., & Wetter, D. W.; Pederson, Julie Haugen; Manning, Debra J.; Wetter, David W. (1990), "Pardon my gaffe: Effects of sex, status and consequence severity on accounts", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58 (4): 610–621, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.110
- Pettigrew, T. F. (2001), "The ultimate attribution error: Extending Allport's cognitive analysis of prejudice", in M. A. Hogg & D. Abrams, Intergroup relations: Essential readings, Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press/Taylor & Francis, pp. 162–173
- Ciladini, R. B.; Richard j., Borden; Avril, Thorne; Marcus Randall, Walker; Stephen, Freeman & Lloyd Reynolds, Sloan (1976), "Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34 (3): 366–375, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1686
- Gramzow, R. H.; Gaertner, L & Sedikides, C (2001), "Memory for ingroup and outgroup information in a minimal group context: The self as an informational base", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80 (2): 188–205, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.124, PMID 11220440
- Baumeister, R. F. & Cairns, KJ (1982), "Repression and self-presentation: When audiences interfere with self-deceptive strategies", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62 (5): 851–862, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1991, PMID 1593424
- Sedikides, C. & Green, JD (2000), "On the self-protective nature of inconsistency/negativity management: Using the person memory paradigm to examine self-referent memory", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79 (6): 906–922, doi:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.526, PMID 11138760
- Festinger, L. (1957), A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press
- Frey, D. (1986), Recent research on selective exposure to information. In L. Bercowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 41-80). New York: Academic Press
- Sanitioso, R.; Kunda, Z & Fong, GT (1990), "Motivated recruitment of autobiographical memories", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59 (2): 229–241, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.206, PMID 2213492
- Murray, S. L. & Holmes, John G. (1993), "Seeing virtues in faults: Negativity and the transformation of interpersonal narratives in close relationships", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65 (4): 707–722, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.117
- Walker, W. R.; Skowronski, John J. & Thompson, Charles P. (2003), "Life is pleasant - and memory helps to keep it that way!", Review of General Psychology, 7 (2): 203–210, doi:10.1037/1089-2618.104.22.168
- Mischel, W.; Ebbesen, EB & Zeis, AM (1976), "Determinants of selective memory about the self", Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 44 (1): 92–103, doi:10.1037/0022-006X.44.1.92, PMID 1245637
- van Lange, P.; Rusbult, Caryl E.; Semin-Goossens, Astrid; Gorts, Carien A. & Stalpers, Mirjam (1999), "Being better than others but otherwise perfectly normal: Perceptions of uniqueness and similarity in close relationships", Personal Relationships, 6 (3): 269–289, doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.1999.tb00192.x
- Gosling, Samuel D.; John, Oliver P.; Craik, Kenneth H.; Robins, Richard W. (1998), "Do people know how they behave? Self-reported act frequencies compared with on-line codings by observers", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 (5): 1337–1349, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1247, ISSN 0022-3514, PMID 9599447.
- Skowronski, J. J; Betz, Andrew L.; Thompson, Charles P. & Shannon, Laura (1991), "Social memory in everyday life: Recall of self-events and other-events", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60 (6): 831–843, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1991
- Arkin, R. M. & Maruyama, Geoffrey M. (1979), "Attribution, affect and college exam performance", Journal of Educational Psychology, 71: 85–93, doi:10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.52
- Greenwald, A. G. (2002), "Constructs in student ratings of instructors", in H. I. Braun & D. N. Douglas, The role of constructs in psychological and educational measurement, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 277–297
- Ditto, P. H. & Boardman, A. F. (1995), "Perceived accuracy of favourable and unfavourable psychological feedback", Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 16: 137–157, doi:10.1080/01973533.1995.9646106
- Pyszczynski, T. & Greenberg, Jeff (1987), "toward an integration of cognitive and motivational perspectives on social inference: A biased hypothesis-testing model", Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 20: 297–341, doi:10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60417-7, ISBN 9780120152209
- Ditto, P. H. & Lopez, David F. (1992), "Motivated skepticism: Use of differential decision criteria for preferred and non-preferred conclusions", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63 (4): 568–584, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2068
- Ditto, P. H.; Scepansky, James A.; Munro, Geoffrey D.; Apanovitch, Anne Marie & Lockhart, Lisa K. (1998), "Motivated sensitivity to preference-inconsistent information", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75: 53–69, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.11
- Buunk, B. P.; Collins, RL; Taylor, SE; Vanyperen, NW & Dakof, GA (1990), "The affective consequences of social comparisons: Either directions has its ups and downs", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59 (6): 1238–1249, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1688, PMID 2283590
- Collins, R. L. (1996), "For better for worse: The impact of upwards social comparison on self-evaluation", Psychological Bulletin, 119: 51–69, doi:10.1037/0033-2909.119.1.51
- Wheeler, L. (1966), "Motivation as a determinant of upwards social comparison", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2: 27–31, doi:10.1016/0022-1031(66)90062-X
- Lockwood, P. & Kunda, Ziva (1997), "Superstars and me: Predicting the impact of role models on self", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73: 91–103, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.124
- Wood, J. V. (1989), "Theory and research concerning social comparison of personality attributes", Psychological Bulletin, 106 (2): 231–248, doi:10.1037/0033-2909.106.2.231
- Collins, R. L. (2000), "Among the better ones: Upward assimilation in social comparison", in J. Suls & L. Wheeler, Handbook of social comparison, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, pp. 159–172
- Gruder, C. L. (1971), "Determinants of social comparison choices", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1 (5): 473–489, doi:10.1016/0022-1031(71)90010-2
- Miller, D. T.; Turnbull, William & McFarland, Cathy (1988), "Particularistic and universalistic evaluation in the social comparison process", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55 (6): 908–917, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1998
- Biernat, M. & Billings, L. S. (2001), "Standards, expectancies and social comparisons", in A. Tesser & N. Schwartz, Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Intraindividual processes, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 257–283
- Suls, J.; Wills, T. A., eds. (1991). Social comparison: Contemporary theory and research. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Crocker, J., Voelkl, K.; Testa, M. & Major, B. (1991), "Social stigma and self-esteem: The self-protective properties of stigma", Psychological Review, 96: 803–808, doi:10.1037/0033-295x.96.4.608
- Tesser, A. (1988), Towards a self-evaluation maintenance model of social behaviour. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (vol. 21, pp. 181-227). New York: Academic Press
- Beach, S. R. H. & Tesser, Abraham (1993), "Decision making power and marital satisfaction: A self-evaluation maintenance perspective", Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 12 (4): 471–494, doi:10.1521/jscp.19188.8.131.521
- Pemberton, M. & Sedikides, C (2001), "When do individuals help close others improve? Extending the self-evaluation maintenance model to future comparisons", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81 (2): 234–246, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.206, PMID 11519929
- Tesser, A. & Paulhus, Del (1983), "The definition of self: Private and public self-evaluation maintenance strategies", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44 (4): 672–682, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.112
- Tesser, A. & Smith, Jonathan (1980), "Some effects of task relevance and friendship on helping: You don't always help the one you like", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16 (6): 582–590, doi:10.1016/0022-1031(80)90060-8
- Cantor, N. & Mischel, Walter (1979), "Prototypicality and personality: Effects on free recall and personality impressions", Journal of Research in Personality, 13 (2): 187–205, doi:10.1016/0092-6566(79)90030-8
- Dunning, D.; Leuenberger, Ann & Sherman, David A. (1995), "A new look at motivated inference: Are self-serving theories of success a product of motivational forces?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69: 58–68, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.168
- Dunning, D.; Perie, M & Story, AL (1991), "Self-serving prototypes of social categories", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61 (6): 957–968, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1247, PMID 1774633
- Kunda, Z. (1987), "Motivated interference: Self-serving generation and evaluation of causal theories", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53 (4): 636–647, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1996
- Dunning, D. & Cohen, Geoffrey L. (1992), "Egocentric definitions of traits and abilities in social judgment", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63 (3): 341–355, doi:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.521
- Alicke, M. D.; Loschiavo, FM; Zerbst, J & Zhang, S (1997), "The person who outperforms me is a genius: Maintaining perceived competence in upward social comparison", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73 (4): 781–789, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2061, PMID 9325593
- Ditto, P. H.; Munro, GD; Apanovitch, AM; Scepansky, JA & Lockhart, LK (2003), "Spontaneous skepticism: The interplay or motivation and expectation in responses to favourable and unfavourable medical diagnoses", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29 (9): 1120–1132, doi:10.1177/0146167203254536, PMID 15189608
- Doosje, B.; Spears, Russell & Koomen, Willem (1995), "When bad isn't all bad: The strategic use of sample information in generalization and stereotyping", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69 (4): 642–655, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.112
- Dunning, D. & Beauregard, Keith S. (2000), "Regulating impressions of others to affirm images of the self", Social Cognition, 18 (2): 198–222, doi:10.1521/soco.2000.18.2.198
- Crocker, J.; Major, B. & Steele, C. (1998), "Social stigma", in D. T. Gilbert; S. T. Fiske & G. Lindzey, The handbook of social psychology (4th ed.), New York: McGraw Hill, pp. 504–553
- Ross, L.; Greene, David & House, Pamela (1977), "The false consensus effect: An attributional bias in self-perception and social perception processes", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 13 (3): 279–301, doi:10.1016/0022-1031(77)90049-X
- Mullen, B. & Goethals, George R. (1990), "Social projection, actual consensus and valence", British Journal of Social Psychology, 29 (3): 279–282, doi:10.1111/j.2044-8309.1990.tb00907.x
- Jones, E. E. & Berglas, S. (1978), "Control of attributions about the self through self-handicapping strategies: The appeal of alcohol and underachievement", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4 (2): 200–206, doi:10.1177/014616727800400205
- Feick, D. L. & Rhodewalt, Frederick (1997), "The double-edged sword of self-handicapping: Discounting, augmentation, and the protection and enhancement of self-esteem", Motivation and Emotion, 21 (2): 147–163, doi:10.1023/A:1024434600296
- Rhodewalt, F.; Morf, Carolyn; Hazlett, Susan & Fairfield, Marita (1991), "Self-handicapping: The role of discounting and augmentation in the preservation of self-esteem", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61: 122–131, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.168
- Rhodewalt, F. & Fairfield, Marita (1991), "Claimed self-handicaps and the self-handicapper: The relation of reduction in intended effort to performance", Journal of Research in Personality, 25 (4): 402–417, doi:10.1016/0092-6566(91)90030-T
- Tice, D. M. & Baumeister, Roy F. (1990), "Self-esteem, self-handicapping and self-presentation: The strategy of inadequate practice", Journal of Personality, 58 (2): 443–464, doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1990.tb00237.x
- Rhodewalt, F.; Sanbonmatsu, D. M.; Tschanz, B.; Feick, D. L. & Waller, A. (1995), "Self-handicapping and interpersonal trade-offs: The effects of claimed self-handicaps on observers' performance evaluations and feedback", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21 (10): 1042–1050, doi:10.1177/01461672952110005
- Arkin, R. M. & Oleson, K. C. (1998), "Self-handicapping", in J. Darley & J. Cooper, Attributional and social interaction: The legacy of Edward E. Jones, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 313–348
- Dweck, C. S. (1999), Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press
- Rhodewalt, F. & Tragakis, M. (2002), "Self-handicapping and the social self: The costs and rewards of interpersonal self-construction", in J. Forgas & K. Williams, The social self: Cognitive, interpersonal and intergroup perspectives, Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press, pp. 121–143
- Ross, S. R.; Canada, Kelli E & Rausch, Marcus K (2002), "Self-handicapping and the Five Factor model of personality: Mediation between neuroticism and conscientiousness", Personality and Individual Differences, 32 (7): 1173–1184, doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(01)00079-4
- Giannetti, E. (2001), Lies we live by: The art of self-deception. London: Bloomsbury
- McCria, S. M. & Hirt, E. R. (2001), "The role of ability judgments in self-handicapping", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27 (10): 1378–1389, doi:10.1177/01461672012710013
- Zuckerman, M. & Tsai, FF (2005), "Costs of self-handicapping", Journal of Personality, 73 (2): 411–442, doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00314.x, PMID 15745436
- Zuckerman, M.; Kieffer, SC & Knee, CR (1998), "Consequences of self-handicapping: Effects on coping, academic performance and adjustment", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 (6): 1619–1628, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1249, PMID 9654762
- Arndt, J.; Schimel, J.; Greenberg, J. & Pyszczynski, T. (2002), "The intrinsic self and defensiveness: Evidence that activating the intrinsic self reduces self-handicapping and conformity", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28 (5): 671–683, doi:10.1177/0146167202288011
- Taylor, S. E. & Brown, JD (1988), "Illusions and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health", Psychological Bulletin, 103 (2): 193–210, doi:10.1037/0033-2909.103.2.193, PMID 3283814
- Alicke, M. D.; Vredenburg, Debbie S.; Hiatt, Matthew & Govorun, Olesya (2001), "The "better than myself effect"", Motivation and Emotion, 25: 7–22, doi:10.1023/A:1010655705069
- Fenton-O'Creevy, M.; Nicholson, Nigel; Soane, Emma & Willman, Paul (2003), "Trading on illusion: Unrealistic perceptions of control and trading performance", Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 76: 53–68, doi:10.1348/096317903321208880
- Helweg-Larsen, M. & Shepperd, J. A. (2001), "Do moderators of the optimistic bias affect personal or target risk estimates? A review of the literature", Personality and Social Psychology Review, 51: 74–95, doi:10.1207/S15327957PSPR0501_5
- Pronin, E.; Gilovich, T & Ross, L (2004), "Objectivity in the eye of the beholder: Divergent perceptions of bias in self versus others", Psychological Review, 111 (3): 781–799, doi:10.1037/0033-295X.111.3.781, PMID 15250784
- Murray, S. L. (1999), "The quest for conviction: Motivated cognition in romantic relationships", Psychological Inquiry, 10: 23–34, doi:10.1207/s15327965pli1001_3
- Rusbult, C. E.; Van Lange, PA; Wildschut, T; Yovetich, NA & Verette, J (2000), "Perceived superiority in close relationships: Why it exists and persists", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79 (4): 521–545, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1991, PMID 11045737
- Nesselroade, K. P., Beggan, J. K.; Beggan, James K. & Allison, Scott T. (1999), "Possession enhancement in an interpersonal context: An extension of the mere ownership effect", Psychology and Marketing, 16: 21–34, doi:10.1002/(SICI)1520-6793(199901)16:1<21::AID-MAR2>3.0.CO;2-9
- Brown, J. (1998), The self. New York: McGraw-Hill
- Alicke, M. D. (1985), "Global self-evaluation as determined by the desirability and controllability of trait adjectives", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49 (6): 1621–1630, doi:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.521
- College, Board (1976-1977), Student descriptive questionnaire, Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service
- Dunning, D.; Meyerowitz, Judith A. & Holzberg, Amy D. (1989), "Ambiguity and self-evaluation: The role of idiosyncratic trait definitions in self-serving assessments of ability", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57 (6): 1082–1090, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2062
- Kruger, J. & Dunning, D (1999), "Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognising one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77 (6): 1121–1134, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.111, PMID 10626367
- Cross, P. (1977), "Not can but will college teaching be improved?", New Directions for Higher Education, 1977 (17): 1–15, doi:10.1002/he.36919771703
- Svenson, O. (1981), "Are we less risky and more skillful than our fellow drivers?", Acta Psychologica, 47 (2): 143–151, doi:10.1016/0001-6918(81)90005-6
- Preston, C. E. & Harris, S (1965), "Psychology of drivers in traffic accidents", Journal of Applied Psychology, 49 (4): 284–288, doi:10.1037/h0022453, PMID 5826671
- Pronin, E.; Yin, D. Y. & Ross, L. (2002), "The bias blind spot: Perceptions of bias in self versus others", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28 (3): 369–381, doi:10.1177/0146167202286008
- Langer, E. J. (1975), "The illusion of control", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32 (2): 311–328, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1681
- Jenkins, H. M. & Ward, WC (1965), "Judgments of contingency between response and outcome", Psychological Monographs, 79: 1–17, doi:10.1037/h0093874, PMID 14300511
- Weinstein, N. D. (1980), "Unrealistic optimism about future events", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39 (5): 806–829, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1246
- Weinstein, N. D. & Klein, WM (1995), "Resistance of personal risk perceptions to debiasing manipulation", Health Psychology, 14 (2): 132–140, doi:10.1037/0278-6126.96.36.199, PMID 7789348
- Regan, P. C.; Snyder, M. & Kassin, S. M. (1995), "Unrealistic optimism: Self-enhancement or person positivity?", Personality and Social Psychology Review, 21 (10): 1073–1082, doi:10.1177/01461672952110008
- Vallone, R. P.; Griffin, DW; Lin, S & Ross, L (1990), "Overconfident predictions of future actions and outcomes by self and others", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58 (4): 582–592, doi:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.522, PMID 2348360
- Buehler, R.; Griffin, Dale & Ross, Michael (1994), "Exploring the "planning fallacy": Why people underestimate their task completion times", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67 (3): 366–381, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2066
- Dunning, D.; Griffin, DW; Milojkovic, JD & Ross, L (1990), "The overconfidence effect in social predictions", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58 (4): 568–581, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.118, PMID 2348359
- Smits, T., & Hoorens, V.; Hoorens, Vera (2005), "How probable is probably? It depends on whom you're talking about", Journal of Behavioural Decision Making, 18 (2): 83–96, doi:10.1002/bdm.485
- Weinstein, N. D.; Marcus, SE & Moser, RP (2005), "Smokers' unrealistic optimism about their risk", Tobacco Control, 14 (1): 55–59, doi:10.1136/tc.2004.008375, PMC , PMID 15735301
- Sedikides, C.; Gregg, A. P. & Hart, C. M. (2007), The self: Frontiers in social psychology, New York: Psychology Press, pp. 163–184
- Chang, E. C. (Ed.). (2007), Self-criticism and self-enhancement: Theory, research, and clinical implications., Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Gramzow, R. H.; Elliot, Andrew J; Asher, Evan & McGregor, Holly A (2003), "Self-evaluation bias and academic performance: Some ways and some reasons why", Journal of Research in Personality, 37 (2): 41–61, doi:10.1016/S0092-6566(02)00535-4
- Young-Hoon, Kim; Chiu, Chiu; Zou, Zhimin (2010), "Know Thyself: Misperceptions of Actual Performance Undermine Achievement Motivation, Future Performance, and Subjective Well-Being", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99 (3): 395–409, doi:10.1037/a0020555, PMID 20804261.
- Swann, W. B. Jr.; Chang-Schneider, C & Larsen Mcclarty, K (2007), "Do our self-views matter? Self-concept and self-esteem in everyday life", American Psychologist, 62 (2): 84–94, doi:10.1037/0003-066X.62.2.84, PMID 17324034
- Trzesniewski, K.; Donnellan, MB; Moffitt, TE; Robins, RW; Poulton, R & Caspi, A (2006), "Low self-esteem during adolescence predicts poor health, criminal behaviour and limited economic prospects during adulthood", Developmental Psychology, 42 (2): 381–390, doi:10.1037/0012-1618.104.22.1681, PMID 16569175
- Colvin, C. R.; Block, Jack & Funder, David C. (1995), "Overly positive self-evaluations and personality: Negative implications for mental health", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68 (6): 1152–1162, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1242, PMID 7608859
- Paulhus, D. L. (1998), "Interpersonal and intrapsychic adaptiveness of trait self-enhancement: A mixed blessing?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 (5): 1197–1208, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1997, PMID 9599439
- Paulhus, Delroy L.; Aliye Kurt (August 2008), "Moderators of the adaptiveness of self-enhancement: Operationalization, motivational domain, adjustment facet, and evaluator☆", Journal of Research in Personality, 42 (4): 839–853, doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2007.11.005, retrieved 12 December 2011.
- Taylor, S. E.; Lerner, JS; Sherman, DK; Sage, RM & McDowell, NK (2003), "Portrait of the self-enhancer: Well adjusted and well liked or maladjusted and friendless?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84 (1): 165–176, doi:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.52, PMID 12518977
- Bonanno, G. A.; Rennicke, C & Dekel, S (2005), "Self-enhancement among high-exposure survivors of the September 11th terrorist attack: Resilience or social maladjustment?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88 (6): 984–998, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2064, PMID 15982117
- van Lange, P. A. M. & Sedikides, Constantine (1998), "Being more honest but not necessarily more intelligent than others: Generality and explanations for the Muhammad Ali effect", European Journal of Social Psychology, 28 (4): 675–680, doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992(199807/08)28:4<675::AID-EJSP883>3.0.CO;2-5
- Morf, C. C., Carolyn C. & Rhodewalt, Frederick (2001), "Unraveling the Paradoxes of Narcissism: A Dynamic Self-Regulatory Processing Model", Psychological Inquiry, 12 (4): 177–196, doi:10.1207/S15327965PLI1204_1
- Sedikides, C.; Herbst, KC; Hardin, DP & Dardis, GJ (2002), "Accountability as a deterrent to self-enhancement: The search for mechanisms", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83 (3): 592–605, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.112, PMID 12219856
- Tice, D. M.; Butler, J. L.; Muraven, M. B. & Stillwell, A. M. (1995), "When modesty prevails: Differential favourability of self-presentation to friends and strangers", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69 (6): 443–464, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1680
- Gilbert, D. T.; Pinel, E. C.; Wilson, T. D.; Blumberg, S. J. & Wheatley, T. P. (1998), "Immune neglect: A source of durability bias in affective forecasting", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75 (3): 617–638, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1247, PMID 9781405
- Trope, Y. & Neter, E (1994), "Reconciling competing motives in self-evaluation: The role of self-control in feedback seeking", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66 (4): 646–657, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1996, PMID 8189345
- Blaine, B. & Crocker, J. (1993), "Self-esteem and self-serving biases in reactions to positive and negative events: An integrative review", in R. F. Baumeister, Self-esteem: The puzzle of low self-regard, New York: Plenum Press, pp. 55–85
- Kuiper, Nicholas A. (1978), "Depression and causal attributions for success and failure", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36 (3): 236–246, doi:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.52, ISSN 0022-3514, PMID 650382.
- Campbell, Jennifer D.; Fehr, Beverley (1990), "Self-esteem and perceptions of conveyed impressions: Is negative affectivity associated with greater realism?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58 (1): 122–133, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.206, ISSN 0022-3514, PMID 2308069.
- Lewinsohn, Peter M.; Mischel, Walter; Chaplin, William; Barton, Russell (1980), "Social competence and depression: The role of illusory self-perceptions", Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89 (2): 203–212, doi:10.1037/0021-843X.89.2.203, ISSN 0021-843X, PMID 7365132.
- Alloy, L. B. (1988), Depressive realism: Four theoretical perspectives. In L. B. Alloy (Ed.), Cognitive processes in depression(pp. 223-265). New York: Guilford Press
- Fincham, F. D. & Bradbury, T. N. (1989), "The impact of attributions in marriage: An individual difference analysis", Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 6: 69–85, doi:10.1177/026540758900600105
- Clark, M. S. & Mills, Judson (1979), "Interpersonal attraction in exchange and communal relationships", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37: 12–24, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.11
- Murray, S. L.; Holmes, J. G.; Griffin, D. W. (1996a) (1996), "The benefits of positive illusions: Idealization and the construction of satisfaction in close relationships", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70: 79–98, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.168
- Fiske, A. P.; Kitayama, S.; Markus, H. R. & Nisbett, R. E. (1998), "The cultural matrix of social psychology", in D. T. Gilbert; S. T. Fiske & G. Lindzey, The handbook of social psychology (4th ed.), Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, pp. 915–981
- Markus, H. R. & Kitayama, Shinobu (1991), "Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion and motivation", Psychological Review, 98 (2): 224–253, doi:10.1037/0033-295X.98.2.224
- Triandis, H. C. & Suh, EM (2002), "Cultural influences on personality", Annual Review of Psychology, 53: 133–160, doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135200, PMID 11752482
- Kitayama, S.; Markus, HR; Matsumoto, H; Norasakkunkit, V (1997), "Individual and collective processes in the construction of the self: Self-enhancement in the United States and self-criticism in Japan", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72 (6): 1245–1267, doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1245, PMID 9177018
- Kitayama, S.; Markus, H. R. & Lieberman, C. (1995a), "The collective construction of self-esteem: Implications for culture, self and emotion", in R. Russell; J. Fernandez-Dols; T. Manstead & J. Wellenkamp, Everyday conception of emotion: An introduction to the psychology, anthropology and linguistics of emotion, Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic, pp. 523–550
- Kanagawa, C.; Cross, S. E. & Markus, H. R. (2001), ""Who am I?": The cultural psychology of the conceptual self", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27: 90–103, doi:10.1177/0146167201271008
- Takata, T. (1987), "Self-depreciative tendencies in self-evaluation through social comparison", Japanese Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 27: 27–36, doi:10.2130/jjesp.27.27
- Heine, S. J. & Lehman, Darrin R. (1995), "Cultural variation in unrealistic optimism: Does the west feel more invulnerable than the east?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68 (4): 595–607, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1995
- Kitayama, S.; Takagi, H. & Matsumoto, H. (1995b), "Seiko to shippai no kiin: nihonteki jiko no bunkashinrigaku" [Causal attributions of success and failure: Cultural psychology of Japanese selves], Japanese Psychological Review, 38: 247–280
- Heine, S. H.; Lehman, DR; Markus, HR & Kitayama, S (1999), "Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?", Psychological Review, 106 (4): 766–794, doi:10.1037/0033-295X.106.4.766, PMID 10560328
- Heine, S. J.; Takata, T. & Lehman, D. R. (2000), "Beyond self-presentation: Evidence for self-criticism among Japanese", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26: 71–78, doi:10.1177/0146167200261007
- Heine, S. J.; Kitayama, S. & Lehman, D. R. (2001a) (2001), "Cultural Differences in Self-Evaluation: Japanese Readily Accept Negative Self-Relevant Information", Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 32 (4): 434–443, doi:10.1177/0022022101032004004
- Heine, S. J.; Kitayama, S.; Lehman, D. R.; Takata, T.; Ide, E.; Leung, C. & Matsumoto, H. (2001b) (2001), "Divergent consequences of success and failure in Japan and North America: An investigation of self-improving motivations and malleable selves", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81 (4): 599–615, doi:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.529, PMID 11642348
- Yik, M. S. M.; Bond, M. H. & Paulhus, D. L. (1998), "Do Chinese self-enhance or self-efface? It's a matter of domain", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24 (4): 399–406, doi:10.1177/0146167298244006
- Kurman, J. (2001), "Self-enhancement: Is it restricted to individualistic cultures?", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27 (12): 1705–1716, doi:10.1177/01461672012712013
- Sedikides, C.; Campbell, W. Keith; Reeder, Glenn D. & Elliot, Andrew J. (2002), W. Strobe & M. Hewstone, eds., "The self in relationships: Whether, how and when close others put the self "in its place"", European Review of Social Psychology, 12: 237–265, doi:10.1080/14792772143000076
- Markus, H. R. & Nurius, Paula (1986), "Possible selves", American Psychologist, 41 (9): 954–969, doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.9.954
- Sedikides, C. (1999), "A multiplicity of motives: The case of self-improvement", Psychological Inquiry, 9: 64–65, doi:10.1207/s15327965pli1001_10
- Falbo, T.; Poston, D. L.; Triscari, R. S. & Zhang, X. (1997), "Self-enhancing illusions among Chinese schoolchildren", Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 28 (2): 172–191, doi:10.1177/0022022197282003
- Fahr, J.; Dobbins, Gregory H. & Cheng, BOR-Shiuan (1991), "Cultural relativity in action: A comparison of self-ratings made by Chinese and U.S. workers", Personnel Psychology, 44: 129–147, doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.1991.tb00693.x
- Gaertner, L.; Sedikides, C. & Chang, K. (2008), "On pancultural self-enhancement: Well-adjusted Taiwanese self-enhance on personally valued traits", Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39 (4): 463–477, doi:10.1177/0022022108318431
- Heine, S. J.; Kitayama, Shinobu & Hamamura, Takeshi (2007), "Inclusion of additional studies yields different conclusions: Comment on Sedikides, Gaertner, & Vevea (2005), Journal of Personality and Social Psychology", Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 10 (2): 49–58, doi:10.1111/j.1467-839X.2007.00211.x
- Sedikides, C., Gaertner, L., & Vevea, J. L.; Gaertner, Lowell; Vevea, Jack L. (2007), "Inclusion of theory relevant moderators yield the same conclusions as Sedikides, Gaertner and Vevea (2005): A meta-analytical reply to Heine, Kitayama and Hamamura (2007)", Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 10 (2): 59–67, doi:10.1111/j.1467-839X.2007.00212.x
- Heine, S. J.; Kitayama, S. & Hamamura, T. (2007b) (2007), "Which studies test whether self-enhancement is pancultural? Reply to Sedikides, Gaertner, and Vevea, 2007", Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 10 (3): 198–200, doi:10.1111/j.1467-839X.2007.00226.x
- Sedikides, C., Gaertner, L., & Vevea, J. L.; Gaertner, L; Vevea, JL (2005), "Pancultural self-enhancement reloaded: A meta-analytic reply to Heine(2005)", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89 (4): 539–551, doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2069, PMID 16287417
- Heine, S. J. (2005), "Where is the evidence for pancultural self-enhancement? A reply to Sedikides, Gaertner & Toguchi (2003)", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89 (4): 531–538, doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.111, PMID 16287416
- Sedikides, Constantine (1993), "Assessment, enhancement, and verification determinants of the self-evaluation process", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65 (2): 317–338, doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1687, ISSN 1939-1315.
- Paulhus, D. L.; Graf, Peter & Van Selst, Mark (1989), "Attentional load increases the positivity of self-presentation", Social Cognition, 7 (4): 389–400, doi:10.1521/soco.1922.214.171.1249
- Paulhus, D. L. & Levitt, Karen (1987), "Desirable responding triggered by affect: Automatic egotism?", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52 (2): 245–259, doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199
- Roese, N. J. & Olson, JM (2007), "Better, stronger, faster: Self-serving judgment, affect regulation, and the optimal vigilance hypothesis", Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2 (2): 124–141, doi:10.1111/j.1745-6916.2007.00033.x, PMC , PMID 18552989
- Baumeister, Roy F. (1999), The Self in Social Psychology, Psychology Press, ISBN 978-0-86377-572-7
- Hogg, Michael A.; Vaughan, Graham M. (2008), Social Psychology, Pearson Education, ISBN 978-0-13-206931-1
- Kunda, Ziva (1999), Social Cognition: Making Sense of People, MIT Press, ISBN 978-0-262-61143-5, OCLC 40618974
- Edward Chin-Ho Chang: Self-Criticism and Self-Enhancement. American Psychological Association, 2008 ISBN 978-1-4338-0115-0
- Hogg, Michael A.; Cooper, Joel (2003), The Sage Handbook of Social Psychology, Sage, ISBN 978-0-7619-6636-4
- Mark R Leary & June Price Tangney: Handbook of Self and Identity. Guilford Press, 2005 ISBN 978-1-59385-237-5