The Better than Average Effect

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Illusory superiority, often referred to as the above average effect, is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others. This is evident in a variety of areas including intelligence, performance on tasks or tests, and the possession of desirable characteristics or personality traits – and probably also blogging.

I wrote an article about the phenomenon, this is the abstract:

“The better than average (BTA) effect is a kind of social comparison in which people evaluate themselves with reference to an average peer or the midpoint of a distribution, which is usually used as a normative standard. Research has consistently shown that people place themselves above this standard, and also above specific peers. The BTA effect has been obtained in multiple studies, with diverse populations in different cultures, on many dimensions, and with different measurements techniques. Studies on the social comparison phenomena suggests that people have a tendency to believe they are better than others in different ways and that negative events in life are less likely to happen to them than their peers. Researchers cannot agree on whether the BTA effect has a cognitive source and is constructed spontaneously, or reflects an already favourable self-image caused by motivated self-enhancements needs. The BTA effect could, in other words, be a consequence of self-enhancement mechanisms that reveals an already favourable self-image, or it could be a separate mechanism altogether. This paper concludes that the BTA effect is due to self-enhancements needs, at least in part, which is a desire to view oneself in a favourable light relative to one’s peers.

The article itself can be found here:

Is the better than average effect better explained by cognitive or motivational accounts

This entry was posted in Diplopi, Judgement and Decision making, Neuroscience and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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