Do Positive Self-Perceptions Have a “Dark Side”? Examination of the Link between Perceptual Bias and Aggression
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The hypothesis that positive self-perceptions may have a “dark side” was investigated in the present study by examining the relationship between positively biased self-perceptions and aggression. Ratings of actual and perceived social acceptance of third-grade (n = 278), fourth-grade (n = 260), and fifth-grade (n = 321) students were compared to form a measure of perceptual bias. Peers provided nominations for overt and relational aggression. Gender differences were found for aggression (males were more overtly and relationally aggressive than females) but not perceptual bias. African-American children held more positive perceptions of their social acceptance and were perceived by peers as more aggressive than Caucasian children. Even after controlling for the effects of gender and ethnicity, more positively biased perceptions were associated with more peer nominations for overt and relational aggression. Contrary to an optimal range of bias hypothesis, even moderately positive self-perceptions were associated with elevated levels of aggression.
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