The University of Texas at Austin
  • Brain activity linked to self-perception, esteem

    By Gary Susswein
    Gary Susswein
    Published: Jan. 7, 2010

    Who among us hasn’t thought we were smarter, prettier, more athletic or just plain better than all of our friends?

    Brain scan image

    Psychologists have long known about the “above-average” effect, the natural human tendency to overestimate our skills, abilities and characteristics. Sometimes, that extra self-esteem can be good. Sometimes, it can go a little far.

    Now, a University of Texas at Austin psychologist is beginning to understand what goes on in our brains when we’re overestimating ourselves.

    Jennifer Beer — a leader in the emerging field of social neuroscience — has found that people who see themselves through “rose-colored glasses” use the frontal lobes of their brains far less less than their friends who have more realistic views of themselves.

    Ultimately, the research may help scientists better understand brain functions in seniors or people who suffer from depression. It could also have implications for recovering methamphetamine addicts whose frontal lobes are often damaged by drug use and who can overestimate their ability to stay clean.

    Read more about Beer’s research.

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