Gebauer, Jochen E.; Sedikides, Constantine; & Schrade, Alexandra.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 113(5), Nov 2017, 786-809
People overestimate themselves in domains that are central to their self-concept. Critically, the psychological status of this “self-centrality principle” remains unclear. One view regards the principle as an inextricable part of human nature and, thus, as universal and resistant to normative pressure. A contrasting view regards the principle as liable to pressure (and subsequent modification) from self-effacement norms, thus questioning its universality. Advocates of the latter view point to Christianity’s robust self-effacement norms, which they consider particularly effective in curbing self-enhancement, and ascribe Christianity an ego-quieting function. Three sets of studies examined the self-centrality principle among Christians. Studies 1A and 1B (N = 2,118) operationalized self-enhancement as better-than-average perceptions on the domains of commandments of faith (self-centrality: Christians ≫ nonbelievers) and commandments of communion (self-centrality: Christians > nonbelievers). Studies 2A–2H (N = 1,779) operationalized self-enhancement as knowledge overclaiming on the domains of Christianity (self-centrality: Christians ≫ nonbelievers), communion (self-centrality: Christians > nonbelievers), and agency (self-centrality: Christians ≈ nonbelievers). Studies 3A–3J (N = 1,956) operationalized self-enhancement as grandiose narcissism on the domains of communion (self-centrality: Christians > nonbelievers) and agency (self-centrality: Christians ≈ nonbelievers). The results converged across studies, yielding consistent evidence for Christian self-enhancement. Relative to nonbelievers, Christians self-enhanced strongly in domains central to the Christian self-concept. The results also generalized across countries with differing levels of religiosity. Christianity does not quiet the ego. The self-centrality principle is resistant to normative pressure, universal, and rooted in human nature.
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