Paper - The Better-Than-Average Effect in Comparative Self- Evaluation: A Comprehensive Review and Meta-Analysis

  • Metadata:
    • author: Ethan Zell, Jason Strickhouser, Constantine Sedikides, Mark Alicke
    • title: The Better-Than-Average Effect in Comparative Self- Evaluation: A Comprehensive Review and Meta-Analysis
  • The better than average is the tendency for people to perceive their abilities, attributes and personality traits as superior compared with their average peer.
  • The BTAE is rather robust across 124 published articles across 950,000 participants with little evidence of publication bias. The effect size ranges from large to very large.
  • ==The article is the first qualitative meta analysis of the BTAE==.
  • This article separates the better than average effect from the unrealistic optimism effect, a comparison that alickePersonalContactIndividuation1995alickePersonalContactIndividuation1995


    author:Mark Alicke, Ml Klotz, David Breitenbecher, Tricia Yurak, Debbie Vredenburg
    title: Personal Contact, Individuation, and the Better-Than-Average Effect

    does not make.
  • Self-esteem is not the same, as the btae is specifically about comparisons.
  • The longest and most frequently studied manifestation of self-enhancement.
  • ==Methodological approaches==
    • Direct method: comprared to avg, how good are you?
    • Indirect method: how good are you, how good is avg
    • forced: are you better or worse than average?
    • percentile
  • Mechanisms
    • self enhancement is the simplest and most likely explanation for the btae
    • self enhancement is a important alternative
    • cognitive factors such as egocentrism (people know more about themselves than they know about others) or focalism (the focal object is overemphazised in the comparison process) also contribute to the btae
    • individuated things are also rated more positively than aggregated entities.
    • These last two points cannot be soley responsible for the btae
  • Studies showed that people were willing to bet money on the fact that they are better, so the btae is not purely self presentational.
  • Also, the BTAE could be in part rational, as people receive mostly positive feedback in their lives.
  • Potential moderators for the observed btae are
    • method
      • direct and forced choice had larger effect sizes than indirect or perenctile methods
    • judgement domain
      • alternatively: judgement dimensions: on positive dimensions, it is viewed as a manifestation of self enhancement, judgement on negative dimensions is viewed as a manifestation of self protection
        • ==self enhance seems to be more important than the motive to self protect== (as btae was larger for positive dimensions)
      • larger btae for personality traits rather than abilities, as personality traits are more abstract
    • sample characteristics (western vs eastern -> btae persists, but in different traits, as different traits are seen as important, however, not a lot of studies here; ==college students vs non-college students -> does not have a large effect==.)
    • the characteristics of the referent
    • psychological well-being of participants (positively associated)
  • Downward comparisons seem to be more salient contributors to the self-concept when compared to upward comparisons. (even though upward comparison is more frequent gerber et al 2018)
    • Higher frequency of upward comparisons: high status individuals are seen as more similar to the self than low status others (collins,1996)
    • ==Upwards comparison may even enhance self-evaluation rather than lower (Mussweiler, 2003) as the superior others are perceived as future portends rather than a threat to self-superiority (Lockwood & kunda 2007 )==