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THE SELF EARLY THEORISTS OF ‘THE SELF’ William James, Charles Cooley SELF-CONCEPT & SELF-ESTEEM Pelham & Swann (1989) Gender differences? Self-objectification theory
WILLIAM JAMES(1842--1910) • “Principles of Psychology” • Duality of Self: • Self as object than can be observed • I have property X • “me” • Self as agent doing the observing • Self as the perceiver • “I” • Related to consciousness: the “I” does the perceiving, feeling,
CHARLES COOLEY(1864-1929) • “Human Nature and the Social Order” • The Social Self: • Self can’t be understood in isolation--must be studied in interaction with others • Self is not an inherent property of human nature but rather a socially-constructed entity: our sense of self is built upon the life-long experience of seeing ourselves through the eyes of others (“looking-glass self”) • James, Mead, Cooley --> SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM
SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM(Social) reality is an illusion, nothing is inherently real, only the meanings and symbols we collectively construct and use to describe reality are real; these symbols can be deconstructed to reveal who develop them and how they are useful to particular groups.
PARADOX: Often there is no obvious relationship between people’s accomplishments and virtues and their global self-esteem • Augusto Pinochet (1915-?) Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) • Undeserved high self-esteem ? Undeserved low self-esteem ? How do people move from having specific knowledge about their attributes to global evaluations of their self-worth?
PELHAM & SWANN (1989) • GLOBAL SELF-ESTEEM (GSE) • General affective evaluation of own’s worth or importance. 2 components: • (1) Affective component: COLOR • Basic sense of pride/shame about oneself. • Largely rooted in temperament (individual differences in basic tendency to feel positive and negative emotions) and early childhood experiences; stable, fuzzy, unconscious, hard to verbalize, spontaneous, irrational (“feeling is believing”) • Also known as trait self-esteem • (2) Cognitive component:CONTENT • Known as self-concept (SC) • Hierarchically organized set of specific mental self-views about one’s characteristics (roles, abilities, etc.) and their evaluation • Dynamic, clear, verbalized, rational (“seeing is believing”) • Framing factors:DYNAMICS • 1. Attribute importance • 2. Attribute certainty determine impact of SC on • 3. Actual/Ideal/Ought Self discrepancy GSE
FRAMING FACTORS: 1. Attribute importance 2. Attribute certainty 3. Actual/Ideal/Ought discrepancy POSITIVE & NEGATIVE AFFECT SELF-CONCEPT (COGNITIVE COMPONENT) TRAIT SELF-ESTEEM (AFFECTIVE COMPONENT) GLOBAL SELF-ESTEEM
Gender differences in global self-esteem ? • Not reliable and/or sizable differences have been found in adults(Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974) • Sources of global self-esteem associated to different things for men and women • (Josephs, Markus, & Tafarodi, 1992) • Differences in agency and communion
GIRLS SELF-ESTEEM (Gilligan, 1990) • Girl’s self-confidence fairly high until age11 or 12 • Assertive about feelings • At adolescence • Many girls accept stereotyped notions of how they should be (behavior and looks) • Repress true feelings • Adopt a “nice” and woman-like self-presentation
SELF-OBJECTIFICATION (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) American culture socializes women to adopt observers' perspectives on their physical selves. This self-objectification is hypothesized to (a) produce body shame restrained eating, and (b) consume attentional resources.
Highly recommended reading !! Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn, & Twenge (1998). That swimsuit becomes you: Sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Question for the class: Why is self-esteem in (Caucasian) girls lower than for the other ethnic groups?