Most of Us Think We’re Better Than Everyone Else

“So you think you’re some kind of hot shot, huh?” We’ve all felt the eye-rollable annoyance of dealing with someone who clearly thinks they are God’s gift to the world. New research is showing, however, that the holier-than-thou pest in the room might actually be you.

The study, which was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, dug deep to understand how people see themselves in comparison to others. It turns out that most folks tend to judge themselves favorably on several desirable personality traits, while rating other, average people as inferior.

Surprisingly, most people also consider themselves to be more modest than most.

Participants in the research rated themselves, the average joe and someone who would be considered “socially desirable” on a range of 30 different personality traits. These traits varied from themes of morality (such as being honest), abilities (such as creativity) and social aptitude (such as friendliness). Not only did they find a significant amount of people rating themselves highly on such traits, but they determined the self-perceived inflation of these traits had some pretty irrational reasoning behind it.

“The individuals in our sample consistently judged themselves to be superior to the average person,” Ben Tappin, the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post. Tappin, who is also a psychologist at the University of London, also discussed how these results relate to a phenomenon known as the “self-enhancement effect.” This has been studied for decades and has popped up in relation to people viewing their intelligence, personality and even driving abilities as superior to others.

Sometimes the only damage the self-enhancement effect inflicts is that familiar, nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling we all know and hate when interacting with someone who sees themselves as almighty. Yet, what can also happen is the act of “moral licensing,” or doing something we know is wrong because—hey—we are perfect angels most of the time, so what’s the harm just this one time?

One seemingly logical explanation for why some people have irrationally superior views of themselves is that these folks also have high self-esteem. The research has not found this to be the case, however. There was no association between the two factors—which should come as no surprise when we consider how a tough, self-promoting exterior often protects a soft, vulnerable and inadequate-feeling interior.

If nothing else, this research should encourage us all to keep our views of ourselves realistic, rational and in check.

Related:
15 Habits of Highly Confident People
10 Simple Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem
8 Simple Morning Tricks to Wake You Up

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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