Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education, Educational Psychology

Date of Defense

12-6-2013

Graduate Advisor

Matthew W. Keefer, PhD.

Committee

Andrew Glassberg

Lisa Dorner

Joseph Polman

Abstract

Testing an evolutionary framework, this study examined moral self-enhancement in relation to self-deception and self-construal in a cross-cultural context. The participants included 127 U.S. and 107 Chinese college students. The results demonstrated that moral self-enhancement is not a characteristic unique to individualistic ideology but rather a universal motivation. Regardless of their cultural groups and self-construal, participants tended to morally self-enhance, rating their own character and sense of responsibility significantly higher than those of other people. In addition, U.S. participants were more likely to morally self-enhance compared to their Chinese counterparts. At the individual level, strong independents demonstrated greater moral self-enhancement than did their strong interdependent peers among the U.S. participants, whereas greater moral self-enhancement was observed in strong interdependents but not strong independent in the Chinese sample. As hypothesized, self-deception as measured by self-deceptive enhancement (SDE) but not impression management (IM) stood out as a significant predictor of moral self-enhancement, supporting the evolutionary understanding that moral self-enhancement is an unconscious process intimately related to self-deception. Among Chinese participants, the association between moral self-enhancement and self-deception was found to be mediated through an inflated rating of others, which indicated a potential other-enhancement effect. On the one hand, results of this study regarding cultural differences in the demonstration of moral self-enhancement were in line with extant self-enhancement literature. On the other hand, the significant relationship between moral self-enhancement and self-deception as revealed in the study provided evidence against the claim that culture is the primary explanation for self-enhancement. Moral self-enhancement as a psychological adaptation to cooperation in the social environment has an evolutionary root. Findings of the study also suggested challenges facing current moral education practices.

Included in

Education Commons

Share

COinS