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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Feb;82(2):252-61.

Self-esteem, construal, and comparisons with the self, friends, and peers.

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Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


Extending the better than average effect, 3 studies examined self-, friend, and peer comparisons of personal attributes. Participants rated themselves as better off than friends, who they rated as superior to generalized peers. The exception was in direct comparisons, where the self and friends were not strongly differentiated on unambiguous negative attributes. Self-esteem and construal played moderating roles, with persons with high self-esteem (HSEs) exploiting both ambiguous positive and ambiguous negative traits to favor themselves. Persons lower in self-esteem exploited ambiguous positive traits in their favor but did not exploit ambiguous negative traits. Across self-esteem level, ratings of friends versus peers were exaggerated when attributes were ambiguous. HSEs seemed to take advantage of ambiguity more consistently to present favorable self-views; people with low self-esteem used ambiguity to favor their friends but were reluctant to minimize their own faults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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