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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Jun;88(6):984-98.

Self-enhancement among high-exposure survivors of the September 11th terrorist attack: resilience or social maladjustment?

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  • 1Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


The authors examined self-enhancing bias as a predictor of adjustment among individuals in or near the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Resilience was defined from categorical and continuous analyses of both participant self-report and friend and relative ratings of adjustment. Self-enhancement was associated with a resilient outcome, ratings of better adjustment prior to September 11th, greater positive affect, and reduced perceptions of social constraints. Additional analyses indicated that self-enhancers' reduced symptom levels were fully mediated by their low perceived social constraints. However, consistent with previous evidence suggesting a social cost to self-enhancement, at 18 months post-September 11th, self-enhancers' friends and relatives also rated them as decreasing in social adjustment and as being less honest.

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