Self-Favoring Biases, Self-Presentation, and the Self-Other Asymmetry in Social Comparison


  • The author wishes to thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. Special thanks are due to Peter Harris for proofreading the final draft for linguistic errors.


ABSTRACT The relationship between self-favoring biases in social comparison, favorable self-presentation, and well-being and the self-other asymmetry effect was examined. Participants gave comparative chance estimations and trait ratings for positive and negative future events and traits. One-half of the participants compared themselves to the average other, while the remainder compared the average other to themselves. All participants completed measurements of two types of desirable responding (self-deception and impression management) and of subjective well-being. Participants who compared themselves to another showed stronger unrealistic optimism and illusory superiority effects for positive (but not for negative) future events und traits than participants comparing another to themselves, demonstrating a self-other asymmetry effect. Unrealistic optimism and illusory superiority concerning positive attributes were related to self-deception, while unrealistic optimism and illusory superiority concerning negative attributes were related to impression management. The relative independence of “positive” and “negative” self-favoring biases was further demonstrated by their differential relationship with self-esteem and subjective well-being.