University of Missouri - Saint Louis

The Graduate School


An oral examination in defense of the dissertation for the degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Ying Liu
M.Ed. in Elementary Education, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2007
B.A. in English Language and Literature, Central China Normal University, 2004

Investigating the Relation between Moral Self-Enhancement and Self-Deception:
A Cross-Cultural Study of U.S. and Chinese College Students



Testing an evolutionary framework, this study examined moral self-enhancement in relation to self-deception and self-construal in a cross-cultural context. The participants included 127 U.S. students attending a university located in a Mid-western state and 107 Chinese students recruited from a university located in the central region of China. The results demonstrated that moral self-enhancement is not a characteristic unique to individualistic ideology but rather a universal motivation. Regardless of their cultural groups and self-construal, participants tended to morally self-enhance, rating their own character and sense of responsibility significantly higher than those of other people. In addition, U.S. participants were more likely to morally self-enhance compared to their Chinese counterparts. At an individual level, strong independents demonstrated greater moral self-enhancement than did their strong interdependent peers among the U.S. participants, whereas greater moral self-enhancement was observed in strong interdependents but not strong independents in the Chinese sample. As hypothesized, self-deception as measured by SDE stood out as a significant predictor of moral self-enhancement, supporting the evolutionary understanding that moral self-enhancement is an unconscious process intimately related to self-deception. Among Chinese participants, the association between moral self-enhancement and self-deception was found to be mediated through an inflated rating of others, which indicated a potential other-enhancement effect.


Date: November 12, 2012

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Place: E. Desmond Lee Technology and Learning Center


Defense of Dissertation Committee


Matthew Keefer, Ph.D. Ph.D.(Advisor)

Cody Ding, Ph.D.


Lisa Dorner, Ph.D.

Joe Polman, Ph.D.