Seeing yourself in a positive light: Brain correlates of the self-positivity bias

L.A. Watson, B. Dritschel, M. Obonsawin, I. Jentzsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals are found to have better recall for self-referent information than other types of information. However, attribution research has shown that self-reference is highly correlated with emotional valence. The present study attempted to identify and separate the processing of self-reference and emotional valence using ERPs. Participants performed a two-choice task, judging the self-referential content of positive and negative words. Reaction times revealed an interaction between self-reference and emotional valence. Faster responses occurred after self-positive and non-self negative words as compared to self-negative and non-self-positive words. A similar interaction was identified in ERP waveforms in the time range of the N400 component at fronto-central electrode sites, with larger N400 amplitudes for words outwith the self-positivity bias. Thus, the size of the N400 may indicate the extent to which information is discrepant with the individual's self-concept.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-110
Number of pages4
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2007


  • self
  • self-reference
  • valence
  • positivity bias
  • ERPs
  • brain
  • social psychology

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