Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Soc Psychol. 2017 Mar;56(1):125-145. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12168. Epub 2016 Oct 6.

Not your average bigot: The better-than-average effect and defensive responding to Implicit Association Test feedback.

Author information

Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA.
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.


A robust body of literature on the better-than-average effect suggests that people believe that they are better than the average others across a variety of domains. In two studies, we examined whether these better-than-average beliefs occur for bias related to stereotyping and prejudice. Moreover, we investigated the hypothesis that better-than-average beliefs will predict defensive responding to feedback indicating personal bias (e.g., preferences for majority groups, societally endorsed stereotypes). Specifically, we examined defensive responses to implicit attitude feedback. Study 1 examined this prediction using archival analysis of two large, online samples of participants completing a Weight-related Implicit Association Test (IAT). Study 2 conceptually replicated Study 1 using nine different, randomly assigned IATs and additional measures of defensiveness. In both studies, people generally believed that they were less biased than others. Moreover, people responded defensively to feedback indicating they were biased. This effect was moderated by better-than-average beliefs such that feedback indicating societally consistent bias was related to defensiveness most (and sometimes only) when people believed they were better than average initially. This work represents the first foray into examining the possible moderating role of social-comparative beliefs in predicting responses to implicit attitude feedback and spurs several important avenues for future research.


Implicit Association Test feedback; better-than-average effect; defensiveness; prejudice; self

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center