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Investigation of the Better-Than-Average Phenomenon

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Investigation of the Better-Than-Average Phenomenon

No matter who we are, what we are or where we are, we are always at the centre of our own worlds and what ever we experience is always primarily filtered through our self. Some scientists contend that the usual view of oneself is at times inflated to the point where it would be considered unreal (Gazzaniga & Heatherton, 2003). In most ability areas studied, more people rate their abilities as above average, than below average. These findings are consistent with those accumulated in studies by Svenson (1981) which demonstrated that drivers perceived themselves to be above average. Seventy-six percent of the drivers considered themselves as safer than the driver with median safety, and sixty-five percent of the drivers considered themselves more skillful than the driver with median skills (Evan, 1991). This element of self-perception is referred to as the 'better-than-average effect', which indicates that people almost always have an optimistic view of their own potential and tend to overestimate their own abilities.

People naturally select the principle that places them in the best light, and most are unrealistically optimistic about their personal future (Gazzaniga & Heatherton, 2003) believing they are less susceptible to danger. Job (1999) says, 'we see ourselves as less likely than our peers to suffer an early heart attack, have cancer, AIDS or a drinking problem but more likely to live past eighty years, own our home and have gifted children'.

Another aspect of the better-than-average phenomenon is that most people also have an impractical perception of their surrounding events in which they were just a minor player. For instance, they may believe that their attendance at a game will have an effect on the team's performance (Gazzaniga & Heatherton, 2003).

People maintain an elevated view of themselves by systematically biasing the attributions they make about their successes and failures (Gray, 2003). In situations where a person has failed at a certain task, they will most likely attribute their failures to situational factors while on the other hand they tend to accredit their successes to dispositional factors (Gray, 2002). However, research by Kruger and Dunning (1999) concluded that people who most markedly overestimate their own abilities on a task are those who



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