Do Collectivists Know Themselves Better Than Individualists? Cross-Cultural Studies of the Holier Than Thou Phenomenon

Emily Balcetis, David Dunning, Richard L. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Collectivists know themselves better than individualists do, in that collectivists provide more accurate self-predictions of future behavior in situations with moral or altruistic overtones. In 3 studies, respondents from individualist cultures overestimated the likelihood that they would act generously in situations involving redistributing a reward (Study 1), donating money (Study 2), or avoiding rude behavior (Study 3), whereas collectivists were, in general, more accurate in their self-predictions. Both groups were roughly accurate in predicting the behavior of their peers. Collectivists were more accurate in their self-predictions than were individualists, even when both groups were sampled from the same cultural group (Study 4). Discussion centers on culturally specific motivations that may bias the accuracy of self-insight and social insight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1252-1267
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008



  • collectivism
  • culture
  • individualism
  • self-enhancement bias
  • self-prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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