‘Of all things, good sense is the most fairly distributed: everyone thinks he is so well supplied with it that even those who are the hardest to satisfy in every other respect never desire more of it than they already have.’ –Descartes


The concept “superiority illusion” refers to the fact that people tend to judge themselves as being superior to the average person when it comes to positive traits such as intelligence, desirability or other personality traits. This is mathematically not possible, because in a normally distributed population, most people cannot be above average. The “superiority illusion” belongs to a family of positive illusions, such as the “optimism bias,” which is characterized by an unrealistic positive outlook regarding our future. It is thought that such positive illusions may help ward off depressive symptoms and promote mental health. […]

[A recent study suggests] that the degree of superiority illusion correlates negatively with functional connectivity between two parts of the brain (the anterior cingulate cortex and the striatum) and that the proposed mediator is the neurotransmitter dopamine. This would mean that increasing dopamine levels in the striatum could promote a person’s superiority illusion.

One limitation of the study was that the findings were purely associative and did not prove an actual causal link between dopamine levels and the superiority illusion.

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