The 3 major self-evaluation motives were compared: self-assessment (people pursue accurate self-knowledge), self-enhancement (people pursue favorable self-knowledge), and self-verification (people pursue highly certain self-knowledge). Ss considered the possession of personality traits that were either positive or negative and either central or peripheral by asking themselves questions that varied in diagnosticity (the extent to which the questions could discriminate between a trait and its alternative) and in confirmation value (the extent to which the questions confirmed possession of a trait). Ss selected higher diagnosticity questions when evaluating themselves on central positive rather than central negative traits and confirmed possession of their central positive rather than central negative traits. The self-enhancement motive emerged as the most powerful determinant of the self-evaluation process, followed by the self-verification motive.
Sedikides, C. (1993). Assessment, enhancement, and verification determinants of the self-evaluation process. Journal of personality and social psychology, 65(2), 317.