The ubiquitous self: What the properties of self-bias tell us about the self

Jie Sui, Glyn W. Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (SciVal)


People show systematic biases in perception, memory, and attention to favor information related to themselves over information related to other people. Researchers have examined these biases in order to throw light on the nature of the self. We review this evidence in memory, face recognition, and simple perceptual matching tasks through objective measures of self-biases. We argue that the self serves as a stable anchor across different forms of judgment and that referring a stimulus to ourselves enhances the binding of stimulus features at different stages of processing (e.g., in perception and in memory) and also the binding between processing stages. There is neural evidence that self-biases reflect an underlying neural network that interacts with but is independent of attentional control networks in the brain, and that damage to the self-related network disrupts the bias effects. We discuss the implications for understanding the nature of the self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222–235
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2017


  • Binding
  • Decision making
  • FMRI default network
  • Redundancy gains
  • Self-representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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