Can everyone be better than average?

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Evaluations of self and others in the past, present, and future were examined by asking 385 students to rate themselves or an acquaintance relative to their peers on a number of personality traits. We predicted, and found, evidence for self-enhancement, as most participants regarded themselves superior to ‘most others’ at all points in time. We also found a better than average improvement effect, as participants considered themselves more superior now, than they were in the past, and expected to become even more superior in the future. Expected improvement in the future was larger than improvement over an equal span of time in the past. It is suggested that favorable self-constructions are possible to the extent that the past and the future are perceived as ambiguous. Singular acquaintances were also rated better than most others, and were believed to improve over time, but their rate of improvement in the future was smaller than the expected improvement for oneself.

Source: “Better than average and better with time: relative evaluations of self and others in the past, present, and future” from European Journal of Social Psychology, Volume 38, Issue 2, pages 343–353, March/April 2008

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