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.
- Self-reference effect
- Positive bias