Self-Enhancement and Self-Protection Motives

Constantine Sedikides and Mark D. Alicke

in The Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399820
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Self-Enhancement and Self-Protection Motives


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

Article.  15664 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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