This study investigated the cognitive basis of self-effacing behavior among the Japanese. Based on the premises that self-effacement among the Japanese is a form of "default self-presentation," we predicted that Japanese self-effacement will dissipate when actual self-evaluation is required. The experiment (n = 110) consisted of two phases. In Phase 1, participants took a "cognitive ability test" that consisted of 20 questions. In Phase 2, they were asked to judge if their performance on the test was above or below the average performance level in their school. In the bonus condition, participants were rewarded for making a correct judgment in their performance. In the fixed-reward condition, no reward was provided for making a correct judgment. The results from experiments 1 and 2, taken together, indicate that self-effacement observed in the fixed-reward condition was not confirmed in the bonus condition. These results suggest that self-effacement among the Japanese is a strategy for self-presentation, which they switch on and off depending on the situation.