A review of self-processing biases in cognition

Sheila J. Cunningham, David J. Turk

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

    37 Citations (Scopus)
    263 Downloads (Pure)


    When cues in the environment are associated with self (e.g., one’s own name, face, or coffee cup), these items trigger processing biases such as increased attentional focus, perceptual prioritization and memorial support. This paper reviews the existing literature on self-processing biases before introducing a series of studies that provide new insight into the influence of the self on cognition. In particular, the studies examine affective and memorial biases for self-relevant stimuli, and their flexible application in response to different task demands. We conclude that self-processing biases function to ensure that self-relevant information is attended to and preferentially processed because this is a perpetual goal of the self-system. However, contrary task-demands or priming can have an attenuating effect on their influence, speaking to the complexity and dynamism of the self-processing system in cognition.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)987-995
    Number of pages9
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
    Issue number6
    Early online date6 Jan 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2017


    • Self
    • Self-reference effect
    • Positive bias
    • Attention
    • Perception
    • Memory


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