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.
- positivity bias
- social psychology