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Perspect Psychol Sci. 2008 Mar;3(2):102-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00068.x.

Self-Enhancement: Food for Thought.

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University of Southampton, Southampton, England, United Kingdom.
University of Southampton, Southampton, England, United Kingdom


Self-enhancement denotes a class of psychological phenomena that involve taking a tendentiously positive view of oneself. We distinguish between four levels of self-enhancement-an observed effect, an ongoing process, a personality trait, and an underlying motive-and then use these distinctions to organize the wealth of relevant research. Furthermore, to render these distinctions intuitive, we draw an extended analogy between self-enhancement and the phenomenon of eating. Among the topics we address are (a) manifestations of self-enhancement, both obvious and subtle, and rival interpretations; (b) experimentally documented dynamics of affirming and threatening the ego; and (c) primacy of self-enhancement, considered alongside other intrapsychic phenomena, and across different cultures. Self-enhancement, like eating, is a fundamental part of human nature.

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