Thursday, January 26th, 2012
The Looking Glass Self
The notion that people learn about themselves from other people. But if we learned
everything about ourselves from other people, then there wouldn’t be a difference between
what you thought about yourself and what others thought about you. But this is not the
There is also introspection…
Rate the degree to which…
Introspection. It is expected that we have the ability to look inside ourselves, and to try to
rate ourselves as accurately as possible. Looking inside yourself = introspection.
Sources of the Self Concept
One of the things that research has suggested is that our concepts of self has a huge impact
on how we will be behaving and the types of goals that we will be able to achieve. Maybe if
you have a negative self-concept, you feel like you don’t have the means to achieve goals; so
you won’t even try.
When an organism keeps getting exposed to uncontrolled events, the organism learns that it
has no control about the outcomes of certain situations. If you believe that you have no
control, you will not have the motivation to try and achieve certain ends. For example,
taking an exam on things never covered. You won’t have any motivation to study if it won’t
help the outcome. Siligman’s theory came from his experiments where he exposed animals
to uncontrolled situations.
Random Shock to Floor Grid
Example of experiment: there would be two dogs in a cage with a floor grid. The dogs would
be shocked at random. However, one of the dogs has a bar that could turn it off. Therefore
one dog feels that he or she has control over the situation. Even though the shock is the
same, it is the perception of control that is different. Seligman found that just that
perception factor has a dramatic impact on mood as well as future behaviour. This evolved
the learned helplessness theory of depression as well. One thing that he found was that (in
another experiment, where they could jump to a safety side) the dogs that learned to have
control (the bar) learned the task to jump to safety, but very few of the ‘uncontrollable
situation’ dogs would learn it.
It is related to helplessness; when you are thinking of any desired outcome, the confidence
that you have in your ability to achieve it will be a primary source of your motivation to
achieve it. Confidence is aka “outcome expectancy” in this case. So the more confident you
are, the more you will work on it.
Self-Discrepancy You will have a mental representation of the self, but you might also have an idea of what
we would like to be ideally. The greater the discrepancy between the ideal self and the
actual self, the more problems there will be. Finally, the ought self is how you should be. It is
a self constructed from growing up in your family, where your parents teach you certain
things. There are reprocussions to not being close to your ought self as well.
What am I all about? and Next Slide
Today if we would make a statement about the examined vs. unexamined life (see slide).
The more we think about the self, the more likely it is that we will identify discrepancies
between the ideal/ought self, and these discrepancies will have a negative impact on your
mood. It is not common to stumble upon amazing things about yourself.
Things that make you self aware (eg: mirror in experiments, having an audience), the more
it will interfere with how you act. So things that increase your self-awareness will also
increase your awareness of self-discrepancies. Self-discrepancies will make you feel
unpleasant, and then you can do one of two things. When you are aware of the self-
discrepancy, you can say that you need to do something about it to reduce the discrepancy
(motivates you to make changes about your behaviour). But if you don’t think that you can
affect things, you might try to escape from self-awareness (try to prevent introspection;
drinking, etc.). Overeating can also be an escape from self-awareness.
Thought that there are two types of self-awareness.
Number of studies conducted that indicate that if you are put in a room, and they say that
you need to work on as many puzzles as possible, and you will be judged on how many you
do, and when the buzzer goes off, you need to stop. But the investigator does not come back
right away; do you stop working when the buzzer goes off? A lot of people keep working.
But if you put a mirror in front during the task, you are more likely to stop; this is self-
Another study; children trick or treating. In one house, there was an open door and a barrel
of candy, and a sign that says “please take only one”. Children tend to take more. But if there
is a mirror on top of the barrel, the children were less likely to be opportunistic.
Dan Gilbert was interested in this; it is hard to determine how accurate self-judgments are.
You can’t use other people to gauge if you are telling the truth; they may not know you as
well. What he did was to ask people to predict how well they would do in a future study.
This is emotional forecasting.
How would you feel? For the most part, we will tend to over estimate. So we do not seem to be all that accurate
about these types of predictions. So we have self-knowledge, and there is probably some
accuracy associated with our self concept. But there are also a lot of inaccuracies.
Sometimes we also bias our self-knowledge in a way to protect our self-esteem.
We are always exposed to situations that might affect our self-esteem.
Success and achievement experiences makes your self-esteem more robust and impervious
to future blows. The opposite happens with a system of failures. If you are a fan of a certain
sports team, by aligning yourself with that team, when they do well, you feel good.
This is the phenomena. You invest some of your identity in the team, and you feel good
when they do well.
We tend to compare our performance to other individuals. This could have a positive or
negative impact on how we feel about ourselves. When you expose yourself to situations