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Abstract

People see themselves as unique from others – as having better personalities and abilities, more desirable opinions, and brighter futures than almost everyone else. In the past, researchers attributed these ‘false uniqueness perceptions’ primarily to a need or desire to see oneself in the most charitable light possible (i.e., self-enhancement). More recent findings – that oftentimes people claim to be worse off than others – call this view into question and raise the need to find explanations that can account for both positive and negative forms of uniqueness perceptions. This review describes several of the leading non-motivated (cognitive) explanations for false uniqueness perceptions and discusses recent empirical findings that establish their role in these phenomena. The rationality of false uniqueness perceptions and the status of motivated reasoning are also briefly considered.