Enhanced Versus Simply Positive: A New Condition-Based Regression Analysis to Disentangle Effects of Self-Enhancement From Effects of Positivity of Self-View

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Abstract

Despite a large body of literature and ongoing refinements of analytical techniques, research on the consequences of self-enhancement (SE) is still vague about how to define SE effects, and empirical results are inconsistent. In this paper, we point out that part of this confusion is due to a lack of conceptual and methodological differentiation between effects of individual differences in how much people enhance themselves (SE) and in how positively they view themselves (positivity of self-view; PSV). We show that methods commonly used to analyze SE effects are biased because they cannot differentiate between the effects of PSV and the effects of SE. We provide a new condition-based regression analysis (CRA) that unequivocally identifies effects of SE by testing intuitive and mathematically derived conditions on the coefficients in a bivariate linear regression. Using data from 3 studies on intellectual SE (total N = 566), we then illustrate that the CRA provides novel results as compared with traditional methods. Results suggest that many previously identified SE effects are in fact effects of PSV alone. The new CRA approach thus provides a clear and unbiased understanding of the consequences of SE. It can be applied to all conceptualizations of SE and, more generally, to every context in which the effects of the discrepancy between 2 variables on a third variable are examined.

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