Self-evaluation bias and academic performance: Some ways and some reasons why

Richard H. Gramzow, Andrew J. Elliot, Evan Asher, Holly A. McGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Are positive illusions about the self adaptive? Controversy surrounding this question can be traced to two features of past research. First, different researchers have used different criteria to assess bias in self-evaluation. Some have relied on normative models, whereas others have relied on social consensus. We identify problems associated with each of these subjective methods and suggest the use of objective or operational criteria. Second, bias in self-evaluation can result from different motivations. In some cases, overly positive self-reports may reflect self-protective or avoidance motivations, whereas in other cases they may reflect self-enhancement or approach motivations. We argue that it is not the level of self-evaluation bias, per se, that determines whether such bias is associated with positive or negative consequences. Instead, consequences are related to the specific motivation underlying this bias. Two studies examine these issues in the context of self-evaluation and academic performance in college.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2003


  • Academic performance
  • Achievement motivation
  • Self-enhancement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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