Previous research has consistently found self-assessment bias (an overly positive assessment of personal performance) to be present in a wide variety of work situations. The present investigation extended this area of research with a multi-disciplinary sample of mental health professionals. Respondents were asked to: (a) compare their own overall clinical skills and performance to others in their profession, and (b) indicate the percentage of their clients who improved, remained the same, or deteriorated as a result of treatment with them. Results indicated that 25% of mental health professionals viewed their skill to be at the 90th percentile when compared to their peers, and none viewed themselves as below average. Further, when compared to the published literature, clinicians tended to overestimate their rates of client improvement and underestimate their rates of client deterioration. The implications of this self-assessment bias for improvement of psychotherapy outcomes are discussed.
In a series of five studies we examined the relationship between sharing positive experiences and positive affect using a diary method (Study 1) and laboratory manipulations (Studies 2 and 3). All of these studies demonstrated that sharing the positive experience heightened its impact on positive affect. In Study 4, we conducted a four-week journal study in which the experimental participants kept a journal of grateful experiences and shared them with a partner twice a week. Control participants either kept a journal of grateful experience (without sharing), or kept a journal of class learnings and shared it with a partner. Those who shared their positive experiences increased in positive affect, happiness, and life satisfaction over the course of four weeks. Study 5 showed that those who received an “active-constructive” response to good news (enthusiastic support) expressed more positive affect than participants in all other conditions, indicating that the response of the listener is important. In sum, our findings suggest that positive affect, happiness, and life satisfaction reach a peak only when participants share their positive experiences and when the relationship partner provides an active-constructive response.