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date: 09 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

People desire to maximize the positivity, and minimize the negativity, of their self-views. The tendency to exalt one's virtues and soften one's weaknesses, relative to objective criteria, manifests itself in many domains of human striving. We focus illustratively on three strivings: the self-serving bias (crediting the self for successes but blaming others or situations for failures), the better-than-average effect (considering the self superior to the average peer), and selective self-memory (disproportionately poor recall for negative self-relevant information). Nonmotivational factors (e.g., expectations, egocentrism, focalism, individuated-entity versus aggregate comparisons) are not necessary for the emergence of these strivings. Instead, the strivings are (at least partially) driven by the self-enhancement and self-protection motives, as research on self-threat and self-affirmation has established. The two motives serve vital functions: They confer benefits to psychological health and psychological interests (e.g., goal pursuit).

Keywords: self-enhancement, self-protection, self-serving bias, better-than-average effect, self-memory, psychological health

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