Do cultures vary in self-enhancement? ERP, behavioral, and self-report evidence

Ryan S. Hampton, Michael Varnum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Psychologists have long debated whether self-enhancement is universal or varies across cultures. Extant studies using explicit and implicit measures have provided mixed results. In this study (N = 93; 35 European American, 58 Chinese: 28 tested in English, 30 tested in Mandarin), we measured self-enhancement covertly using an ERP paradigm. Self-enhancement was also assessed via self-report and reaction-time based measures. Americans showed strong evidence of self-enhancement across all measures, whereas this effect was absent or weaker among Chinese, who instead showed an other-enhancing bias across measures. Language did not affect self-enhancement tendencies among Chinese participants, with the exception of one self-report measure. Nor did the two cultural groups differ in enhancement for a close other. This is the first study to directly compare self-enhancement across cultural groups using ERPs and provides evidence that positive self-regard does indeed vary by culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Neuroscience
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 4 2017


  • cultural neuroscience
  • Culture
  • ERP
  • N400
  • self-enhancement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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