Self-enhancement bias has been studied from 2 perspectives: L. Festinger's (1954) social comparison theory (self-enhancers perceive themselves more positively than they perceive others) and G. W. Allport's (1937) self-insight theory (self-enhancers perceive themselves more positively than they are perceived by others). These 2 perspectives are theoretically and empirically distinct, and the failure to recognize their differences has led to a protracted debate. A new interpersonal approach to self-enhancement decomposes self-perception into 3 components: perceiver effect, target effect, and unique self-perception. Both theoretical derivations and an illustrative study suggest that this resulting measure of self-enhancement is less confounded by unwanted components of interpersonal perception than previous social comparison and self-insight measures. Findings help reconcile conflicting views about whether self-enhancement is adaptive or maladaptive.
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