Recognizing “Blindspots” in Our Self-Perception

“Don’t sell yourself short,” my friend recently told me, catching me in unconscious act of belittling myself.

Though her support brought a smile to my face, her comment was unexpected and caused me to lose my train of thought. I began to analyze my self-perception and how it had influenced the conversation that had just transpired.  Do I often sell myself short without realizing it?

Our self-perception controls more than just the way we depict ourselves in our heads. It lays the foundation for how we interact with others, dictates how we represent ourselves, and directly correlates with our self-esteem.

Not surprisingly, research shows that I’m not alone in the depreciation of my self-worth. A 2015 cross-cultural study found that “the typical person is not aware of some of the unique ways in which he or she is consensually perceived by others.”

Researchers found that many of us fail to give ourselves proper recognition for the positive qualities we have. Fortunately, these “blindspots” we have in our self-perception aren’t invisible to those around us.

The study was designed to compare feedback about a targeted person’s personality and reputation from people who knew them (classmates, friends, roommates, family, partners, and ex-partners) with the responses they gave about themselves.

The results confirmed the existence of distinctive “blindspots” in a person’s self-perception, thereby reaffirming previous studies concluding that the way we see ourselves is different from how others view us.

The important takeaway from this study is that “the average person is at least partly unaware of how positively he/she tends to be seen by others.”

In other words, we tend to focus on our negative qualities, which can lead to issues in low self-esteem and a misconstrued sense of self. The acknowledgement of our positive qualities can diminish these biased gaps that tarnish the way in which we view ourselves.

Furthermore, the study inquired about the effects of informing people about the positive characteristics attributed to them by others, and how this could possibly increase the well-being of society as a whole.

My friend’s comment reminded me to realize when I am selling myself short, and to pick up the slack in recognizing my positive qualities when they deserve credit. We can keep our self-perception in check by:

Although it’s valuable to know that others may perceive us more positively than we perceive ourselves, it’s important to realize the limitations of relying on others to stand up for ourselves.  We should make an effort to recognize our good qualities as much as we acknowledge the ones that need improvement, so that when friends aren’t there to remind us, we still know our worth.

The way we speak to ourselves matters. We shouldn’t allow the blind-spots in our self-perception to be the cause of a crash.


Gallrein, Anne-Marie B., Weßels, Nele M., Carlson, Erika N., Leising, Daniel. (2016) “I still cannot see it—A replication of blind spots in self-perception.” Journal of Research in Personality, 60, 1-7.

About the Author

Cameron Gordon Cameron Gordon is a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara pursuing a double major in English and Spanish. Both passionate about writing and promoting the importance of mental health, Gordon aspires to attain a career centered around writing and education.

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