MOST OF THE TIME, we rate ourselves in comparison to others as above average. We perceive ourselves as better than the average person in our work performance, persistence, originality, friendliness, reliability, tolerance, intelligence, honesty, health, ability to get along with others, concern about social issues. We do this to feel good about ourselves. The question is—how can all of us be above average?
The majority of people in business rate themselves as above average on ethical behavior. A national survey posed the question, “how would you rate your own morals and values on a scale from one to 100 (100 being perfect)?” half of the businesspeople responded with a rating of 90 or greater. A meager 11 percent responded with a rating of 74 or smaller.1
We all need to maintain our self-enhancement. The persons who suffer from mild depression rate themselves more accurately in regards to their own abilities, performance, and self-attributes than the normal person who is not depressed. The rosy view we have of ourselves provides protection against depression and failure. The danger is that our inflated views of self can distort our perceptions.
When coauthor Robert Hoyk was in graduate school, his professor of social psychology, Dr. Dalenberg, told him of an experiment she had conducted that was related to Milgram’s study on obedience to authority (Trap 1). In an introductory class of psychology, Dalenberg