Unrealistically positive self-assessment

Unrealistically positive views of the self. Not only do people tend to attribute far more positive than negative traits to themselves; they easily process positive information and have difficulty recalling negative information. Even when negative aspects of the self are acknowledged, they tend to be dismissed as inconsequential. One's own poor abilities tend to be perceived as common, but one's favoured abilities are seen as rare and distinctive. Furthermore, the things that one is not proficient at are perceived as less important than the things that they are.

Individuals judge positive attributes as more descriptive of themselves than others. The reverse is true of negative attributes. Individuals even believe that their driving ability is superior to others. They also give others less credit for success and more blame for failure than they ascribe to themselves. In experimental situations involving chance, people tend to think they have control or are applying skill. Most people think optimistically about the future, believing that the present is better than the past and that the future will be even better. Most people report being happy most of the time.

Counter Claim:
Optimism may improve social functioning. One study found that people with high self-esteem and an optimistic view of the future were better able to cope with loneliness. People with high self-evaluations see themselves - and are seen - as more popular. There may be intellectual benefits to self-enhancement. Memory tends to be organized egocentrically so that people recall information relating to themselves well. Positive illusions may contribute positive mood. Positive affect is, in fact, an effective cue for memory retrieval. It seems to facilitate the use of efficient, rapid problem-solving strategies and enhances associations. Positive conceptions of the are associated with working harder and longer on tasks. Perseverance, in turn produces more effective performance and a greater likelihood of goal attainment. People with high esteem evaluate their performance more positively than do low-esteem people, even when the performances are equivalent. These perceptions then feed back into enhanced motivation. People with high self-esteem have higher estimations of their ability for future performance and higher predictions of future performance, regardless of prior performance. People with a stronger sense of personal efficacy are more highly motivated and therefore make more efforts to succeed. A desire for control leads people to respond more vigorously to a challenging task and to persist longer. People who expect to succeed world longer and harder than those with low expectations of success. Overall, research evidence indicates that self-enhancement, exaggerated beliefs in control and unrealistic optimism are associated with higher motivation, greater persistence, more effective performance and, ultimately, greater success.
Narrower Problems:
Academic self-promotion
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
02.05.2000 – 00:00 CEST