No evidence for a common self-bias across cognitive domains

Annabel Nijhof, Kim Shapiro, Caroline Catmur, Geoff Bird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
221 Downloads (Pure)


It is generally acknowledged that humans have an egocentric bias; processing self-related stimuli in a specialised, preferential manner. The self-bias has been studied within cognitive domains such as memory, attention and perception; but never across cognitive domains in order to assess whether self-biases are a product of a common bias, or independent. This has relevance for conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder: certain self-biases are reduced in those with autism, but the pattern of results is not consistent across different cognitive domains. Self-bias was measured across the attentional and perceptual domains on two well-established tasks: the attentional blink (attention) and shape-label matching (perception) tasks. Processing of each participant’s own name was compared to processing of the name of another individual very familiar to the participant (to control for familiarity), and the name of an unfamiliar other. In the attentional domain, the attentional blink for the participant’s own name was reduced compared to that for the name of a familiar or unfamiliar other. In the perceptual domain, participants showed stronger associations between their own name and a geometric shape than between the other classes of names and associated shapes. Thus, strong evidence of a self-bias, independent of familiarity, was found on both tasks. However, across two experiments, the magnitude of the self-bias on the attentional blink and shape-label matching tasks was not correlated, supporting the idea that self-biases across cognitive domains are distinct. Furthermore, in contrast with extant models, neither type of self-bias was predicted by autistic traits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104186
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Early online date17 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • attentional blink
  • self-bias


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