Positive illusions in the academic context: A longitudinal study of academic self-enhancement in college

J.M.H. Chung, Roberta A Schriber, Richard W Robins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In the present research, we examined academic self-enhancement in students (N = 264) followed longitudinally through 4 years of college. We used social comparison (i.e., better-than-average ratings) and self-insight (i.e., criterion-based) approaches to assess the degree to which students self-enhanced in their self-perceptions of academic ability, with SAT scores, high school grade point average (GPA), and college GPA used as criterion measures. We also examined ethnic variability in academic self-enhancement. We found that academic self-enhancement (a) increased or decreased over the 4 years of college, depending on its operationalization, (b) tended to be adaptive according to social comparison indices, and (c) demonstrated a trajectory that differed by ethnicity, but ethnicity did not moderate the effect of academic self-enhancement on outcomes. We discuss the implications of the findings for debates about the adaptive value of self-enhancement, the magnitude of cultural differences, and how best to conceptualize and operationalize the construct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1384-1401
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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