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

Watson, L.A. and Dritschel, B. and Obonsawin, M. and Jentzsch, I. (2007) Seeing yourself in a positive light: Brain correlates of the self-positivity bias. Brain Research, 1152. pp. 106-110. ISSN 0006-8993

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Abstract

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.