East Asian Self-Enhancement In Search of East Asian Self-Enhancement

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In Search of East Asian Self-Enhancement

Steven J. Heine

Takeshi Hamamura

University of British Columbia

Please address correspondence to:

Steven J. Heine

2136 West Mall, University of British Columbia

Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4 Canada

Tel: (604) 822-6908. Fax (604) 822-6923

E-mail: heine@cortex.psych.ubc.ca

(in press) Personality and Social Psychology Review

A meta-analysis of published cross-cultural studies of self-enhancement revealed pervasive and pronounced differences between East Asians and Westerners. Across 91 comparisons, the average cross-cultural effect was d = .84. The effect emerged in all 30 methods, except for comparisons of implicit self-esteem measured by the Implicit Associations Test. Within cultures, Westerners showed a clear self-serving bias (d = .87), whereas overall East Asians did not (d = -.01), with Asian-Americans falling in between (d = .52). However, East Asians did self-enhance in the methods that involved comparing themselves to average, but were self-critical in other methods. It was hypothesized that this inconsistency could be explained in that methods in which people compare themselves to average are compromised by the “everyone is better than their group’s average effect” (EBTA). Supporting this rationale, studies that were implicated by the EBTA reported significantly larger self-enhancement effect for all cultures compared to other studies, and they were the only studies that revealed significant East Asian self-enhancement. The intriguing finding that implicit self-enhancement levels are comparable across cultures suggests that feelings of self-liking are cross-culturally similar, however, the remaining evidence converges to show that East Asians do not appear to self-enhance.

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