Anna Emese VINCZE*
Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Despite robust data and influential arguments supporting the positive illusion theory, the potential benefits of self-enhancement have been a controversial research topic in social and health psychology. Some critics proposed that self-enhancement reflects little more than defensive denial and serves to camouflage psychological distress. We propose that anxiety related attentional biases, as valid implicit measures of distress, may help us see more clearly into this debate. Participants were 102 undergraduate students. Although results revealed that overall, high and medium self-enhancers had better performance on a color naming task and were less affected by emotionally arousing content compared to low self enhancers; high self enhancers were more affected by socially rejecting content. Discussion centers on the possible buffering effects of self-enhancing beliefs at unconscious levels.
Keywords: positive illusions, psychological distress, attentional biases, implicit measures