Don't hate me because I'm beautiful: Self-enhancing biases in threat appraisal

Tanya Menon*, Leigh Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We compare people's intuitive judgments about how the self and others respond to threat. We propose that people hold a self-enhancing belief in "threat immunity," i.e., they see themselves as more secure than other people in the face of threat. In Study 1, people assumed that they threatened others more than others threatened them. In Study 2, people on project teams estimated that both they and their teammates provoked roughly equal levels of threat in others, although they experienced less threat than did other people. Study 3 experimentally manipulated threat perceptions in an interactive context and revealed that when people held self-enhancing threat appraisals, those with whom they interacted experienced lower satisfaction with the outcome and relationship. Finally, Study 4 demonstrated that, as compared to people who affirmed themselves and thus focused on the self, people who affirmed another person displayed lower threat immunity. The self-enhancing nature of these threat appraisals reveals how competition and envy emerge in organizations-or at least, how people imagine they emerge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-60
Number of pages16
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Affirmation
  • Envy
  • Self-enhancement
  • Threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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