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PSYC 333 Lecture Notes - Barnum Effect, Interrupt, Normative Social Influence

Course Code
PSYC 333
Jennifer Bartz

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PSYC 333 Personality and Social Psychology
January 12, 2012
Who am I?
5 things you would use to describe yourself to the rest of the class
o Artistic, creative, academic, enjoys television, likes my hair
5 things you would use to describe yourself to a siblings romantic partner
o McGill, Psychology through sciences, Fashion show, homebody, enjoys
5 things you would use to describe yourself to a mutual friend at a bar
o McGill, likes my hair, likes fashion, Psychology, doesn’t drink much
It would be pointless to say you are a McGill student when introducing
yourself to your classmates as you are all McGill Students
We have multiple selves in different situations we have different selves
Multiple Selves
A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him
and carry an image of him in their mind William James (Father of American
Which self am I now?
Phenomenal self
o Small portion of (self) knowledge that is the current focus of
Spontaneous self concept
Distinctiveness Theory
A person notices their distinctive traits and personal characteristics more
readily because of their greater informational richness and value for
discriminating self from others:
o Not very useful to describe yourself as a McGill student in a class of
McGill Students
Example 1: Atypical Attributes
6th grade students atypical in age, hair color, eye color, weight, and birthplace
mention these attributes more than those with typical characteristics
Example 2: Ethnicity
In prominently white communities, students that were atypical were more
likely to mention that only 1% of white students would mention ethnicity
in the Who am I task
o People are more likely to mention things that make them distinctive
from others

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Example 3: Gender
Gender: function of household sex composition
26% of minority sex in classroom mention gender, 11% of majority
Example 4:
Created ad hoc 3 person groups in the lab
o All males
o All females
o 1 male, 2 females (distinctiveness condition)
o 1 female, 2 males (distinctiveness condition)
Who describes themselves by gender?
o 34% (distinctiveness condition) vs 16% mention gender
1. Different situations can activate different schemas and this produces
different versions of the self
o How we have the experience of multiple selves
Dynamic Self-Concept
Despite having multiple selves, we still have this concept or understanding
that we are one in the same person
Self is a collection of representations/schemas about the self
“Working self-concept” is that set of representations that is accessible at any
one moment
o Core self conceptions are imbedded in a context of more tentative self
conceptions that are tied to prevailing circumstances
Activation potential of available knowledge
o The self as an associative network
All of these different nodes or pieces of knowledge about the
self are interconnected
Accessibility is a function of:
o 1. Frequency of action highly interconnected
The more frequently the different nodes are activated, the
more accessible they will be
o 2. Recency of activation residual activation
1. Different Situations can activate different schemas and this produces
different versions of the self
o The self when I go out, the self at home, the self on holiday, etc
2. People can be manipulated by having them comb through their stock of
self views in a biased manner

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o Sheds light on how the self concept can be changed
o We can influence what gets activated and how this occurs
We have multiple selves, when asked who we are we will come up with
multiple descriptions of the self depending on who we are talking to
o There is an idea of the dynamic self that consists of all the different
kind of knowledge we have of one’s self – a one self, a true me
A certain subset of that knowledge is accessible in a given
situation the working self concept
Contextual Activation I
o Extraverted: “What would you do if you wanted to liven things up at a
o Introverted: “What things do you dislike about loud parties?”
What the researchers were trying to do was prompt people to retrieve from
memory experiences where people felt that way most people have
experienced both
Those in the extraverted condition:
o Described themselves as more extraverted
o Acted more extraverted in a subsequent situation!
Spoke longer to the confederate, sat closer to the confederate,
and when the confederate rated those in the extroverted prime
as significantly more extroverted than those in the introverted
or neutral primes
How accurately does this describe you?
You have a strong need for others to like and admire you. You have a
tendency to be critical of yourself. At times you have serious doubts as to
whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer
a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when
hemmed in by restrictions/ you pride yourself on being an independent
thinker and do not accept others’ opinions without satisfactory proof.
o Most people are likely to give themselves a rating in the 4 range when
describing how accurately this paragraph describes themselves (4/5)
Barnum Effect
Personality Statement about an individual that is true of practically everyone
Willingness to accept the validity of such overly inclusive statements
Does the personality assessment tell us anything distinctive about the person
o This is why horoscopes and fortunetellers are so popular!
o Most of us in our lives have been both introverted and extroverted at
some point so we are able to active those versions of the self
Contextual Activation II
Scrambled sentence task:
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