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Defining “Self”. The way people think and feel about themselves (Brown, 1998). The human self is a self-organizing, interactive system of thoughts, feelings, and motives that characterizes an individual (Hoyle). Self vs. Personality. According to Brown:

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defining self
Defining “Self”
  • The way people think and feel about themselves (Brown, 1998).
  • The human self is a self-organizing, interactive system of thoughts, feelings, and motives that characterizes an individual (Hoyle).
self vs personality
Self vs. Personality
  • According to Brown:

Self is what people think they are like.

Personality is what people are actually like.

history of the self in psychological science
History of the Self in Psychological Science
  • William James (1842-1910)
    • Discussed concepts such as self-concept and self-esteem
    • Used introspection-observation of one’s own consciousness.
  • Behaviorists (e.g., Watson, Skinner)
    • Dominated American psychology from 1915-1955.
    • Psychology is the science of behavior, not of the mind.
    • Self relegated to non-scientific psychology.
  • Cognitive Revolution and Re-Emergence of the Self
    • People are active organisms, capable of planning and initiating behaviors in order to achieve desired end-states.
william james view of self
William James’ View of Self

2 Main Components:

  • Me: the self-concept (knowledge and thoughts related to who you think you are).
  • I: the perceiver (the part of self that allows you to be consciously aware of who you are).

“I sees Me”

three components of self concept james
Three Components of Self-Concept (James)
  • Spiritual Self- your internal perception of who you are.
    • Personality traits, abilities, interests, feelings, desires.
  • Social Self- how you are perceived by others.
    • Largely based on social roles and group memberships.
  • Material Self- tangible objects, people, or places that carry the designation my or mine.
    • Bodily self
    • Extracorporeal self
cognitive components of the self
Cognitive Components of the Self

The Self is a collection of knowledge.

  • Network Models
  • Self-schemas- cognitive generalizations about the self, derived from past experience, that organize and guide the processing of new self-related information (Markus, 1977).
markus 1977 self schema studies
Markus' (1977) Self-Schema studies

Step 1:

Individuals are categorized as independent, dependent, or aschematic.

How would you describe yourself:

Dependent 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Independent

Conformist 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Individualist

Follower 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Leader

markus 1977 self schema studies9
Markus' (1977) Self-Schema studies

Step 2 (3-4 weeks later):

Judge whether 69 traits are self-descriptive or not (RT measured). Each item presented for 2s.

Example:

Individualistic:

  Me Not Me

results markus 1977
Results (Markus, 1977)

Self-schemas

  • Allow consistent judgments of self
  • Speed up processing of self-relevant info
extensions of self schema research
Extensions of Self-Schema Research
  • Memory
  • Acceptance of feedback
  • Judgment of others
self reference effect
Self-Reference Effect

Rogers, Kuiper, & Kirker (1977):

Step 1: 

Structural properties: Is kind printed in lowercase letters?

Phonemic properties: Does kind rhyme with mind?

Semantic properties: Does kind mean the same as nice?

Self-relevance: Does kind describe you?

Step 2: Surprise recall.

self reference effect13
Self-Reference Effect
  • Information related to the self is more easily recalled.
working self concept
Working Self-Concept

Working self-concept- the portion of the self that is accessible at the moment.

Consists of:

  • core self-conceptions (stable across situations).
  • tentative self-conceptions (change depending on the situation).
self complexity linville 1987
Self-Complexity (Linville, 1987)

“…self-complexity entails cognitively organizing self-knowledge in terms of a greater number of self-aspects and maintaining greater distinctions among self-aspects.”

“A complex cognitive representation of the self serves to moderate the adverse physical and mental health effects of stressful events.”

motivational views of self
Motivational Views of Self

Self-evaluation motives:

  • Self-enhancement- people want to feel good about themselves.
  • Accuracy- people want valid info about themselves.
  • Self-verification- people want info that is consistent with how they view themselves.
  • Self-improvement- people want to get better.
swann et al 1987 method
Swann et al. (1987) Method
  • Participants were high or low in social SE
  • Task: read a passage from a book while evaluator watches
  • Evaluator gives favorable or unfavorable feedback.
  • Participants rate the evaluator and their current mood.
compromises b w enhancement and verification
Compromises b/w Enhancement and Verification
  • Morling & Epstein (1997; Study 2):
  • Participants were high or low in self-esteem.
  • P’s read scenarios involving potential dating partners:
  • Self-verifying partner
  • Slight or extremely enhancing partner
  • Slight or extremely belittling partner
  • P’s rated immediate gut reactions of liking for each partner
  • And more considerate, deliberate reactions of liking.
self discrepancy theory higgins 1987
Self-Discrepancy Theory (Higgins, 1987)

Three components of self:

  • Actual self- the person you think you are.
  • Ideal self- the person you’d ideally like to be.
  • Ought self- the person you think you should be.
self discrepancy theory higgins 198724
Self-Discrepancy Theory (Higgins, 1987)

1. We are motivated to reach a condition where actual self matches our personally relevant self-guides (ideal or ought selves).

2. Self discrepancies have affective consequences.

  • Actual-ideal self discrepancy leads to dejection-related emotions.
  • Actual-ought self discrepancy leads to agitation-related emotions.
experimental evidence for self discrepancy theory higgins et al 1986
Experimental Evidence for Self-Discrepancy Theory (Higgins et al., 1986)
  • Participants were students who scored high on both actual-ideal and actual-ought discrepancy and those who scored low on both.
  • Ideal prime condition: “describe the kind of person you and your parents would ideally like you to be…”
  • Ought prime condition: “describe the kind of person you and your parents think you ought to be…”
  • DV: pre and post-test mood questionnaire.
results higgins et al 1986
Results (Higgins et al., 1986)
  • Ideal priming increased high-discrepancy participants’ dejection.
  • Ought priming increased high-discrepancy participants’ agitation.
working self concept27
Working Self-Concept

Working self-concept- the portion of the self that is accessible at the moment.

Consists of:

  • core self-conceptions (stable across situations).
  • tentative self-conceptions (change depending on the situation).
stability and malleability of the self concept markus kunda 1986
Stability and Malleability of the Self-Concept (Markus & Kunda, 1986)
  • Manipulated similarity vs. uniqueness

e.g., Which card do you prefer?

Uniqueness condition: 2 confederates disagree with you on 15/18 trials.

Similarity condition: 2 confederates agree with you on 15/18 trials.

results markus kunda 1986
Results, Markus & Kunda (1986)

Me/not me judgments for similarity (average, normal, follower) and uniqueness (original, independent, unique) words:

  • No effect of condition on # similarity and uniqueness words endorsed as self-descriptive.
  • But, p’s in the uniqueness condition hit “me” faster for similarity words.
  • P’s in the similarity condition hit “me” faster for uniqueness words and “not me” faster for similarity words.
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Self can be described in cognitive units such as nodes in a network or self-schemas.
  • Different social situations activate different portions of the self and different self-motives.
  • Motives affect our processing of self-related information and subsequent emotions.
  • Several theories suggest that the self is resistant to change.