Culture and self-enhancement

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Citations (Scopus)


People desire positive self-perceptions. A College Board (1976-1977) survey of nearly one million high school seniors found that only 2% of them perceived themselves to be worse than average on leadership ability, and no respondents believed that they were worse than average on the ability to get along with others. High school seniors are not alone in displaying this bias. In other surveys, more than 94% of university professors thought that they had better-than-average teaching ability (Cross, 1977); college students rated themselves as better than average on 38 of 40 positive personality traits (e.g., dependable, intelligent; Alicke, Klotz, Breitenbecher, Yurak, & Vredenburg, 1995); and a randomly selected sample of 296 New Jersey residents perceived that they were less susceptible than others to a diverse set of hazards (Weinstein, 1987). Other psychological processes attend to this persistent Pollyanna view of the self. For instance, individuals who construct unrealistically positive self-perceptions are motivated to maintain positive regards of the self (see Taylor & Brown, 1988; Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999). Holding a Pollyanna self-view dovetails such biases as displaying unrealistic optimism (e.g., Weinstein, 1980; Kuiper & MacDonald, 1982), making internal attributions for successes and external attributions for failures (e.g., Zuckerman, 1979; Heine, Kitayama, & Lehman, 2001), and exhibiting the false uniqueness effect (e.g., Markus & Kitayama, 1991). For the purpose of maintaining a positive self-view in the face of self-esteem threats, individuals may also engage in compensatory self-deceptive behaviors, including adopting self-handicapping strategies (e.g., Tice & Baumeister, 1990), undergoing defensive attitude change (e.g., Steele, 1988), displaying aggressive behaviors (e.g., Bushman & Baumeister, 1998), engaging in downward social comparison (e.g., Gibbons & McCoy, 1991), and discounting negative feedback (Heine, Kitayama, & Lehman, 2001).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultural Processes
Subtitle of host publicationA Social Psychological Perspective
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780511779374
ISBN (Print)9780521765237
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2011.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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