The Social Self I. What is the self-concept? James, Cooley, Mead Self-schemas II. Social Context Immediate Context Socio-cultural Context (broader context)

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  • The Social Self

    I. What is the self-concept?James, Cooley, MeadSelf-schemasII. Social ContextImmediate ContextSocio-cultural Context (broader context)Sensitivity to Context (Self-monitoring)III. Self-enhancement Mechanisms

  • Theories of the SelfWilliam James (1890): A person has "as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their minds."

    Charles Cooley (1902): Views of self reflect the standpoints of significant others in our lives ("looking glass self")

    George Herbert Mead (1934): We imagine the perspectives of others and incorporate these into our self views -- and that this occurs continuously as we interact with others on an ongoing, moment to moment basis.

  • Twenty Statements Test

  • Self-schemasSelf-schema (Markus): A set of well-elaborated knowledge about the self that guides the processing of self-relevant information and is based on past social experiences

  • Self-schemasSchema in domain of independenceSchematic: Very self-descriptive and important/central to your view of selfAschematic: Not highly descriptive and not highly important

  • Self-schemas--Schematics faster than aschematics to endorse as self-descriptive words in schematic domain (e.g., independence)--Schematics resist evidence contradicting their view of themselves in the schematic domain.

  • Spontaneous self-conceptSpontaneous self-concept (McGuire): Specific aspects of self that are triggered by the features of the current situation. (Ex: Saying Im a brunette in a room where everyone else is blond.)

  • Self-awareness TheorySelf-awareness theory (Duval & Wicklund): The theory that self-focused attention leads people to notice self-discrepancies, thereby motivating either an escape from self-awareness or a change in behavior.

  • Self-awareness TheoryTrick-or-treat studyIV: Mirror present or notDV: How much candy taken by trick or treatersResults:

  • Self-awareness theorySelf-focus is associated with:--a drop in self-esteem (probably because comparing self with a social standard)--behaving in line with socially desirable standards

  • The self is socialThe way we develop our self-conceptions depends in part on our interactions with others.The immediate situational context (which often includes other people) can affect how we see ourselves at any given point in time.

  • Broad Social Context: Culture and the SelfThe squeaky wheel gets the grease.The nail that stands out gets pounded down.

  • Culture and the SelfMarkus & KitayamaIndependent self-view: Define self in terms of own thoughts, feelings, and actions; emphasize uniqueness from others. (individualistic Western)Interdependent self-view: Define self in terms of ones relationships to others; emphasize connectedness to others (collectivistic Asian and Third World cultures).

  • Role of Personality

  • What is the self?The self-concept is complex and multifaceted.Universe of self-conceptions: All of the ways in which you might see yourself (actual self, hoped for self, ideal self, etc.)Working self-concept: Includes core self-conceptions along with less central self-conceptions that may vary depending on the situational context.

  • Self-esteemSelf-esteem: Global positive or negative feelings about the self.Attributions about exam grades when succeed or fail: Degree to which score reflects: Your abilitySituation (test was too hard)

  • Mechanisms of self-enhancementDownward social comparisons: Comparing ourselves to people who are worse off than we are on a particular trait or ability.


    What did Shelley Taylor find in her research w/breast cancer patients?

  • Self-evaluation Maintenance Theory (SEM)Cannot always use downward comparisonSEM: Sometimes ones view of self is threatened by another persons behavior, and the degree of threat depends on the closeness of the relationship to the other person and relevance of the behavior.Abraham Tessers research: What happens when we compare ourselves with someone close to us? [Video clip]

  • BIRGingBasking in reflected glory: Increasing self-esteem by associating with others who are successful (BIRGing)

  • BIRGingCialdini et al. (1976)Monday morning after football games, college students (from Arizona State, Louisiana State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, etc.) more likely to wear school sweatshirts when team won on the previous Sat. & larger the victory, the more shirts worn.IV: General knowledge test. success, failure feedbackDV: Describe outcome of recent football game.Results:

  • Self-handicappingBerglas & Jones (1978)Cover: Drugs and intellectual performanceIndependent variable: Solvable or unsolvable problemsDependent variable: Choice of DrugDrug A: Helps intellectual performance Drug B: Inhibits intellectual performance

  • Self-handicappingHelpsInhibitsUnsolvable problem: Solvable problem:

  • Self-handicappingSelf-handicapping: When a person protects his/her self-image by setting up a situation that makes it difficult to succeed, but creates a handy excuse for failure.

  • Defensive pessimismDefensive pessimism (Norem & Cantor): A strategy in which a person expects the worst, and works harder because of this expectation.What did they find?

  • Explanations for self-serving bias

    1. Self-presentation--want to make a good impression on others2. Motivation--we are motivated to protect and enhance our self-esteem.

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