Do actual and perceived self-enhancement entail differing social impressions (i.e. interpersonal evaluations)? Actual self-enhancement represents unduly positive self-views, as gauged by an objective criterion (in this case, IQ scores), whereas perceived self-enhancement involves the extent to which an individual is seen by informants (i.e. peers or observers) as self-enhancing. In an online survey (N = 337), a laboratory experiment (N = 75), and a round-robin study (N = 183), we tested the effects of actual and perceived intellectual self-enhancement on (informant-rated) emotional stability, social attractiveness, and social influence. Actual self-enhancers were rated as emotionally stable, socially attractive, and socially influential. High perceived self-enhancers were judged as socially influential, whereas low-to-moderate perceived self-enhancers were deemed emotionally stable and socially attractive. Privately entertained, illusory positive (even extreme) self-beliefs confer social benefits, whereas being perceived as self-enhancing buys social influence at the cost of being despised.