Much research finds that Westerners self-enhance more than East Asians, with the exception of studies using the implicit associations test for self-esteem (IATSE). We contrasted Japanese and Canadians on a new measure of self-enhancement under low- and high-attentional load to assess whether cultural differences vary across controlled and automatic processes. Participants also completed measures of relational mobility and the IATSE. Results indicated that Japanese and Asian-Canadians were more self-critical than Euro-Canadians, both under high- and low-attentional load. This cultural difference was partially mediated by relational mobility. The IATSE showed no cultural differences, but this measure did not positively correlate with any of the other measures in the study, suggesting that it is not a valid measure of ‘true’ self-feelings. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.