These are excellent insights.
I love the title of this piece, which sums it up so well. I call this the way 'self-serving attribution' works to distort reality for 'whiteness.' I personally believe that white people (and other 'whiteness' actors) need to do the hard psychological work of negotiating this thought process or simply remain confused as to why an increasingly higher percentage of people of color are getting more and more angry.
In studies, people give themselves the benefit of the doubt--they credit themselves when they achieve, but credit outside forces when they fail. People also tend to do the opposite for others: assume others have had a 'helper' (extrinsic) if they succeed but if others have failed, that other probably didn't work hard enough.
All humans have this tendency. But people with power will be more able to get away with this because they have the power to begin with; therefore, they are less likely to be challenged when their 'win' is extrinsic, and they continue to assert their own internal skills--'merit'--that they have achieved themselves.
People of color, watching the real accomplishments often come from others of color, watch as white people continue--at some level or another--to give themselves credit even when the credit belongs elsewhere.
I've watched this my entire career: white people get promoted, awarded, etc etc ---despite in some cases OBJECTIVE evidence as to the POCs skills--and in their own minds, convert this extrinsic privileging into some sort of intrinsic success. I am still, to this day, repeatedly shocked at how often mediocre white people promote other mediocre white people---or worse yet, accept these prizes--when a wide range of POCs can see that they are inappropriately crediting themselves and that a POC was more deserving. Any suggestion of this brings immediate defensiveness, probably because internally, that white person knows that he is being bested yet is still the one being rewarded.
The larger problem is not whose ego is served, but who is able to make the larger contribution to the human race. Thus, repeatedly, POC's who can make this larger contribution are squashed under this mediocrity while (most) white people walk around convincing themselves that they deserve what they have.
White people will need to do the work of overcoming this onerous tendency to give oneself more credit than one deserves, because in reality, the privilege gives myriad white people more credit than they deserve through entrenched white supremacy.
Most POCs, in my experience, see this. At some point, I assume real accomplishment will trump these delusions. If nothing changes in white people's minds, they are going to be extremely confused as to why a growing POC population is (finally!) starting to allow POC accomplishments the credit they deserve because that reward won't simply automate to a white person (extrinsically). That is, they won't have the same opportunity to Houdini their privilege and pretend that a suddenly-existing intrinsic tendency to superior performance did the work.
This is even more obvious for Black people, whose histories are distinct from all others due to the TransAtlantic Slave Trade. Black peoples, collectively, do not get the credit that they deserve through this same system most often (that is, white supremacy assumes the most extreme extrinsic privileging for Black people--they must have been given what they achieve, that is, they couldn't have done it on their own--and deprives Black peoples collectively of intrinsic privileging--that is, they couldn't have done it themselves.) Thus, for example, the nasty comments when a Black person says they went to an IL university ('she must be an affirmative action candidate', etc) At some primitive lower-brain level, white people cannot let go of that notion that if it is a good thing, they deserve it because they INTRINSICALLY earned it, thus ignoring the significant power of white supremacy and its role in extrinsically handing them the reward.
White people need to do this work: overcome the tendency to give oneself the benefit of the doubt while not hesitating to cast doubt on everyone else. i know few willing to do this work, to overcome that inner tendency to overlook other higher accomplishers in order to protect one's power, even at the expense of allowing real gifts and contributions to be given by those actually capable of giving them.
This behavior is what POC"s are increasingly labelling 'White Psychosis,' and the more tenuous its grasp to POC reality, the more crazy they seem.