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The University of Southampton

Self-Enhancement as a Goal Directed Force

Erin M. O’Mara
Department of Psychology, University of Dayton, USA

Self-enhancement is associated with academic performance such that over-reported current-GPA predicts increased subsequent-GPA. To exclude the possibility that the performance boost is due to correlated person/contextual-factors and directly test a causal effect of self-enhancement, we employed an experimental method. We randomly assigned participants to proceed directly to a creativity task (brainstorm uses for a brick and candle) or first describe how they are more creative than their peers. The self-enhancement condition generated more uses and (as assessed by blind judges) more creative uses for the objects. To assess whether the performance boost is unique to goal-directed enhancement, we replicated the latter experiment and added a third condition: participants described how an important trait (other than creativity) is more descriptive of self than peers. Only the creativity-self-enhancement condition evidenced a performance boost. This research indicates that self-enhancement facilitates task performance and functions as a goal-directed force.

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