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Chapter 3 - The Social Self.odt

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PSYC 215
John Lydon

Chapter Three The Social Self Nature of the Social Self individual self beliefs about our unique personal traits, abilities, preferences, tastes, talents, and so forth relational self beliefs about our identities in specific relationships collective self beliefs about our identities as members of social groups to which we belong Origins of Self-Knowledge Socrates urged fellow Athenians to examine the self to find its essential and distinctive characteristics Buddhist thought counsels people to transcend the material graspings of the self and its desires, illusions and frustrations there are numerous social origins of self-knowledge as well as to construal processes from which self-knowledge may be derived, nurtured, and maintained Family and Other SocializationAgents parents and other socialization agents teach children what they view as socially appropriate and valued attitudes and behaviors; direct and indirect (modeling appropriate behaviors) symbolic interactionist we come to know ourselves through imagining what others think of us reflected self-appraisals beliefs about what others think of our social selves C.H. Cooley, 1902 looking-glass self - other people's reactions to us serve as a mirror of sorts, reflecting our image so that we, too, can see it Situationism and the Social Self our social self shifts dramatically from one situation to another consistent with the notion of situationism and is supported by abundant empirical evidence Aspects of the Self that are Relevant in the Social Context one of the greatest determinants of the nature of contextual shifts in the sense of self is determining what is relevant, or appropriate, in the current situation Brown, 1998 in situations where people experience a failure of some kind, negative beliefs and feelings about the self come to the foreground working self-concept subset of self-knowledge that is brought to mind in a particular context usually the subset that is more relevant/appropriate in the current situation Aspects of the Self that are Distinctive in the Social Context in the West what's most central to your identity is what makes you distinct Both Malleable and Stable most of us can easily distinguish among our individual, relational and collective self beliefs and would readily agree that our sense of self shifts depending on the context ways to reconcile dueling notions of malleability and stability in the self: although the concept of the working self varies across situations, core components of self-knowledge are likely to be on the top of the mind whenever a person thinks about the self a persons's overall pool of self knowledge remains relatively stable over time, providing a sense of self-continuity, even as different pieces of knowledge come to the fore in different contexts although a person's sense of self may shift depending on the context, it's likely these shifts form a predictable, stable pattern Culture and the Social Self independent self-construal cultures that promote the self as an autonomous entity that is distinct and separate from others imperative is to assert uniqueness and independence focus on internal causes of behavior conception of self in terms of traits that are stable across time and social context interdependent self-construal cultures in which the self is fundamentally connected to other people imperative is for a person to find a place and fulfill appropriate roles within the community and other collectives focus on influence of social context and the situation on current behavior conception of self which is embedded within social relationships Gender and the Social Self when women describe themselves, they are more likely than men to refer to social characteristics and relationships in United States and Japan women tend to construe the self in more interdependent terms than men tend to be more empathetic and better judges of other people's personalities and emotions tend to be more aware of situational cues men tend to prioritize uniqueness and difference tend to be more attuned to their own internal responses, such as increased heart rate gender differences in representation of the social self come from: socialization many agents of socialization guide women and men into differing self-construals media portrays men and women differently (men in positions of power and agency) girls groups are usually directed towards more interpersonal games, whereas boys groups are usually geared towards competition, hierarchy, and distinctions among one another human evolutionary history men were equipped physically and psychologically for hunting and aggressive encounters women were equipped physically and psychologically for nurturing young independent self-construal fits the roles largerly fulfilled by males in our evolutionary history interdependent self-construal is better tailored to the caregiving demands that fell disproportionately to females cultures have very different ways of dealing with gender; the past several generationshave witnessed enormous changes in gender roles these sorts of sex differences are not inevitable there are sharp limits to any evolutionary account of the role of gender in the nature of the self-concept Social Comparison L. Festinger, 1954 social comparison theory the hypothesis that people compare themselves to other people in order to obtain an accurate assessment of their own opinions, abilities, and internal states to get an accurate sense of how good you are at something, you must compare yourself with people who have approximately your level of skill numerous experiments have demonstrated that people are particularly drawn to comparisons with others roughly similar to themselves we like to feel good about ourselves, so our search for similar targets of comparison tend to be biased toward people who are slightly inferior to or worse off then ourselves these downward social comparisons help us define ourselves rather favorably, giving a boost to our self-esteem ex. cancer patients are told to compare themselves to people who are worse off, while simultaneously initiating contact with those who seem better off upward social comparison we are particularly inclined to engage in this type of comparison when we aspire to be sub
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