The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Behind bars but above the bar: prisoners consider themselves more prosocial than non-prisoners

Record type: Article

That people evaluate themselves more favourably than their average peer on desirable characteristics – the better-than-average effect (BTAE) – is one of the most frequently cited instances of motivated self-enhancement. It has been argued, however, that the BTAE can be rational when the distribution of characteristics is skewed such that most people lie above the mean. We addressed whether the BTAE is present even among people liable to be objectively below average on such characteristics. Prisoners compared their standing on pro-social characteristics – such as kindness, morality, law abidingness – with non-prisoners. Prisoners exhibited the BTAE on every characteristic except law abidingness, for which they viewed themselves as average. Given that prisoners are unlikely to be objectively above average on pro-social characteristics, the findings push for a motivational interpretation of the BTAE

Microsoft Word publications pdf's_2014_Sedikides Meek Alicke Taylor_2014.eprintsdoc.doc - Other
Download (103kB)


Sedikides, Constantine, Meek, Rosie, Alicke, M.D. and Taylor, S. (2014) Behind bars but above the bar: prisoners consider themselves more prosocial than non-prisoners British Journal of Social Psychology, 53, (2), pp. 396-403. (doi:10.1111/bjso.12060).

More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 23 December 2013
Published date: June 2014
Keywords: better-than-average effect, self-enhancement, superiority judgements, prisoners, incarceration


Local EPrints ID: 365954
ISSN: 0144-6665
PURE UUID: 75aa9d7b-448f-4dbb-9c33-3eb5e9d23f43

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 24 Jun 2014 09:34
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 02:17

Export record



Author: Rosie Meek
Author: M.D. Alicke
Author: S. Taylor

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.