The multifaceted-self effect is the ascription of more traits to self than others. Consensus is that this effect occurs for positive, but not negative, traits. We propose that the effect also occurs for negative traits when they can be endorsed with low intensity ("I am a little bit lazy"), thereby circumventing self-protection concerns. In Experiment 1, the multifaceted-self effect occurred for positive, but not negative, traits on a high-intensity trait-endorsement measure. However, it occurred irrespective of trait valence on a low-intensity trait-endorsement measure. In Experiment 2, the multifaceted-self effect occurred for positive, but not negative, traits on a strong trait-endorsement measure. However, it occurred irrespective of trait valence on a diminuted trait-endorsement measure-a finding conceptually replicated in Experiment 3. In Experiment 4, participants spontaneously adopted diminutive terms ("a little bit") when describing their negative traits. Individuals reconcile negative self-knowledge with self-protection concerns by expressing it in muted terms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology