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

Jie Sui* (Corresponding Author), Glyn W. Humphreys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


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
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Bibliographical note

This work was supportedby grants from the Economic and Social ResearchCouncil (UK) (ES/K013424/1) and a WellcomeTrust Senior Investigator Award (WT 106164MA)


  • self-representation
  • decision making
  • binding
  • redundancy gains
  • fMRI default network


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