Confident but Clueless?: The Nature and Boundaries of the Link Between Personality Disorder Features and Self-enhancement Open Access

Ashley Lauren Watts (Spring 2018)

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Although it is well-established that people tend to view themselves through rose-colored glasses, efforts to identify robust individual differences in this tendency have generally left researchers empty-handed. Narcissistic individuals have long been observed to overestimate their attributes and accomplishments, however, suggesting that narcissistic traits might be one risk factor for engaging in self-enhancing and overconfident behaviors. The goal of the present study was to investigate the link between personality and self-enhancement broadly construed. Atlanta community members (N = 138; Mage = 25 years; 62% female; 30% African American, 26% Caucasian; 19% Asian) reported on their own personality and completed a series of laboratory tasks evaluating their tendencies toward self-enhancement and overconfidence. Although many participants tended towards self-enhancement, there were substantial individual differences in this tendency. Certain features of narcissism, namely those associated with leadership and authority, were consistently positively associated with the broad swath of self-enhancement and overconfidence indicators. Other traits, such as extraversion, antagonism, disinhibition, and self-esteem were also related to self-enhancement, although less consistently. In contrast, neuroticism and internalizing symptomology were negatively associated with overconfidence and self-enhancement. Together, the current study has aided in targeting replicable personality traits implicated in self-enhancement and overconfidence, with narcissism being the most salient risk factor for viewing oneself overly positively.


Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                                                      1

            Self-knowledge                                                                                                                     1

            Self-enhancement and overconfidence as universal phenomena                                          3

                        Self-enhancement                                                                                                     4

                        Overconfidence                                                                                                        5

            Caveats to self-enhancement and overconfidence as universal phenomena                         6

            Narcissism, self-enhancement, and overconfidence                                                            7

            Remaining questions from the existing literature                                                               10

                        Individual differences in bias blind spot                                                                10

                        Narcissism as a monolithic construct                                                                      11

                        Specificity                                                                                                               12

            Current study                                                                                                                     14

                        Specific aims and hypotheses                                                                                 15

Method                                                                                                                                           19

            Participants and procedure                                                                                                 19

                        Participants                                                                                                             19

                        Procedure                                                                                                                20

            Measures                                                                                                                             21

            Data analysis                                                                                                                       33




Table of Contents



Results                                                                                                                                             34

            Aim 1                                                                                                                                  34

Aim 2                                                                                                                                  37

Aim 3                                                                                                                                  44

Discussion                                                                                                                                       50

            Summary of main findings                                                                                                 51

            Accounts of the narcissism-self-enhancement link                                                             53

            Limitations                                                                                                                          56

            Future research directions and planned analyses                                                                62

            Conclusion                                                                                                                         66

References                                                                                                                                      68

Tables                                                                                                                                             88


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