# What is the name of the tendency to portray oneself in the positive light?

I know it exists and it has a name...

But my google-fu skills are lacking, due to a pretty niche concept that uses a lot of generic keywords.

There is a fallacy / mental model / a tendency for people to portray themselves in a positive light.

I know about "80% of drivers thinking they are better than average" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority but it is not exactly what I'm looking for.

CONCRETE EXAMPLE

Have you ever taken / ingested / consumed cannabis?

Answer "YES" to this question would admit doing something illegal, with potentially negative consquences, including the fact that the researcher might be an undercover cop. Therefore, even if the genuine answer is "YES", there is a non-zero probability that the recorded answer is "NO"

To account for this tendency INSERT NAME HERE _____________ I would like to suggest an alternative design of the same question that involves a 2nd researcher

"We are aware of the tendency INSERT NAME HERE _____________

"We are working towards legalization efforts..."

"This will be treated in the strictest confidence..."

"We know that asking "YES / NO" questions about drug use can make people..."

"Our goal is to obtain more accurate estimate..."

Of course the sample size is small but the discrepancy is clearly visible (other research papers confirm it too).

I am aware that anonymity might not be enough to obtain accurate results, that's why the design of the study with the 2nd researcher but I just want to sound a little bit smarter and read more about INSERT NAME HERE _____________ - surely it has a name?

EDIT: if it does not have a name, I'll take the "Robertson Syndrome"

• I think it's clear your first and second approaches would get different answers, but I think it's less clear that one is going to result in "less bias" than the other; for example, people opposed to cannabis legalization may decide not to participate further in your study in the second scenario and may also be people less likely to have used cannabis, so you find a higher percentage of "yes" because some of the "no"s don't participate. I'm also not convinced of your explanation of "wanting to portray themselves in a positive light"; they may fear legal or other consequences. Jan 3 at 19:59
• A perhaps colloquial but common expression along these grounds is saving face, or for your first blanks, to save face. Jan 3 at 20:56
• @BryanKrause I will let data / research / study to decide. For now I just want to learn a little bit more, find the actual term for INSERT NAME HERE _____________ bias / fallacy / phenomenon... "Saving face" sounds broadly related but it doesn't nail it, thank you for the comment :) Jan 3 at 21:37
• If you are asking about a bias specific to research, then check out demand characteristics: "A possible cause for demand characteristics is participants' expectations that they will somehow be evaluated, leading them to figure out a way to 'beat' the experiment to attain good scores in the alleged evaluation." Jan 4 at 3:01
• Demand characteristics - also related, but not quite there. No typo in "have you ever took", in my native tongue the phrase is "to take drugs" also in English. Only now I'm realising you can also have a "toke" of cannabis. Jan 4 at 14:20