Personality and the Self – Lecture 13
Self-schema: singular; specific knowledge structure of cognitive representation of self-concept.
Self-schemata: cognitive structures built on past experiences that guide the processing of information about yourself; particularly in
Possible selves: schema for future selves; the ideas people have about who they might become; not based on experiences;
inspiration for future behaviour.
Self-guides: standards that one uses to organize information and motivate appropriate behaviour; motivating properties come from
emotions; influence our motivation by changing what we pay attention to.
Ideal self – what a person wants themselves to be
Ought self – a person’s understanding of what others want them to become
Self-esteem: general evaluation of self-concept along a good-bad or like-dislike dimensions (do you like yourself, do you feel
worthwhile); varies temporally but has an average; varies by area or aspect of self (ex. may feel good about intellectual abilities but
shy around members of opposite sex = high academic self-esteem but low self-esteem in dating).
Childhood (expectations) later childhood (social comparison) internal standards (self-concept)
Criticism and failure feedback:
- Low self-esteem: those with low self-esteem tended to give up on tasks after being criticized, even though they were
previously motivated; when criticised it was easier for them to believe this because it agreed with their self-concept; their
negative self-view was confirmed so they do not try on the next task; focused on avoiding failure.
- High self-esteem: those with high self-esteem were less likely to give up and more likely to work just as hard on the next
task; they did not accept the feedback because it was not consistent with their self-concept and attributed failing to a
mistake or other cause; focused on projecting successful self-image.
Protecting and Enhancing Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem strategies:
Defensive pessimism – a strategy in which a person facing a challenge such as an upcoming test, expects to do poorly; they
are motivated by the fear of failing and take this perspective because impact of failure can be lessened if it is expected; ex. man that
does public speaking, afraid of failing, practises extra hard, does well.
Self-handicapping – person deliberately does things that increase the probability that he or she will fail; ex. young woman
may not study because she thinks she will fail; creating an excuse for her failure.
Self-esteem variability: an individual difference characteristic; the magnitude of short-term fluctuations in ongoing self-esteem; due
to vulnerability of ones self-worth to daily life events.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
- Preoccupation with imagined deficit in appearance (or excessive concern about actual anomaly); preoccupation causes
marked distress and impairment. 2
US vs German students on BDD and its correlates
Main finding – no difference in apparent rate of BDD in both groups; use students reported more body image concerns and
preoccupation; poor body esteem and poor self-esteem associated with symptoms of anxiety, and depression in both groups; it
remains unclear whether these symptoms precede or come after BDD
Examine self-esteem in a sample of 93 patients with BDD.
Main finding – patients with BDD had very low self-esteem + more delusionality; link between low self-esteem and BDD accounted
for by major depression; it still remains unclear whether low self-esteem predisposed people to BDD or is a consequence of it.
Key Features of Social Identity
Continuity stability in who you are
Contrast aspects of identity that make you different
Identity crisis: anxiety about defining one’s individuality and social reputation; two types,
1) Identity deficit: when identity is not adequately formed; can lead to vulnerabilities (ex. cults).
2) Identity conflict: incompatibility between 2 or more aspects of one’s identity
Resolution – decide which values are most important; transform these into desires and behaviours.
CHAPTER 15 – THE SOCIAL-CULTURAL DOMAIN: PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL INTERACTION
Mechanisms of Social Interaction
Selection: in everyday life people chose to enter some situations and avoid other situations; social selections permeate daily life;
social selections are decision points that direct us to choose one path and avoid another
Personality characteristics in a marriage partner
Study: over 10,000 participants worldwide
Main finding – most favoured characteristic = mutual attraction/love; slightly less important = dependability, emotional stability,
Complementary needs theory: people are attracted to those who have different personality dispositions than they have; ex. people
who are dominant may want to be in a relationship with someone who is submissive.
Attraction similarity theory: people are attracted to those who have similar personality characteristics (ex. someone dominant
wants someone dominant who pushes back).
Attraction Similarity Theory vs Complementary Needs Theory
Assortative mating: the phenomenon that people are married to people that are similar to themselves
Study: Botwin et al. 1997; one’s personality preference in another and personality of that individual (via self, partner and
Main finding – correlations were consistently positive; those who score high in one trait prefer partner high in that trait; correlations
in part due to social preference.
Do married people get what they want?
People are happier when their partner is high in agreeableness, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and openness; not the case
when one partner’s personality & his/her ideal personality do no match. 3
Study: adolescent females in grade 12 with depressive symptoms, their romantic partners and their best friends.
Main finding –
- strong link between relationship dysfunction and the females’ depressive symptoms in romantic relationships (vs.
- romantic partners reported poorer social skills in the females (with depressive symptoms) compared to what the best
- Friends reported being more emotionally supportive (vs. romantic partners) to the females.
- Romantic partners reported Cluster A personality symptoms (aloof, restricted affect, low empathy, guarded) which
contributed to them being less supportive.
Conclusion: young women with depressive symptoms may pair with non-supportive partners due to assortative mating OR the
adolescent female’s symptoms impact and lead to the partner’s symptoms.
Personality and Selective Breakup
Violation of desire theory breakups are more common when one’s desires are violated; people actively seek mates who are
dependable and emotionally stable; those who are married to others who lack dependability and emotional stability will
dissolved the marriage.
Other factors linked to breakup: personality profiles (vs. a single trait); lack of close match between one’s ideal mate and actual
personality of mate.
Research on Shyness and Risky Situations
Shyness: tendency to feel tense worried or anxious during social interactions or even when anticipating a social interaction.
Adolescence and early adulthood shy people avoid social situations resulting in isolation
Females high in shyness less likely to bring up contraception with partner or see a gynecologist
People high in shyness are less likely to take many risks or enter risky situations.
Evocation: the ways in which feature of personality elicit reactions from others; highly active children compared to less active
children elicit hostility and competitiveness from others and teachers get into power struggles with these children.
Aggression and Hostility
People high in aggression often evoke hostility in others.
Hostile attribution bias tendency to infer hostile intent on the part of others in the face of their uncertain behaviour;
Anger and Upset in Partners
One partner is angry then the other will become angry; it is a circle; highest personality predictors of upset in married couples is low
agreeableness and high emotional instability.
Expectancy Confirmation one’s belief about another’s personality characteristics causes him to evoke an action that is consistent
with that belief.
Manipulation: (social influence) includes all ways which people intentionally try to change the behaviour of others; no malicious
intent is needed to imply the term manipulation but it is not excluded either.
Examined by asking:
1) Do personality characteristic predict tactics used?
2) Are some people consistently more manipulative? 4
Taxonomy of 11 Tactics of Manipulation
Charm I try to be loving when I ask her to do it
Coercion I yell at him until he does it
Silent Treatment I don’t respond to her until she does it
Reason I explain why I want him to do it
Regression I whine until she does it
Self-abasement I act submissive so that he will do it
Responsibility Invocation I get her to make a commitment to doing it
Hardball I hit him so that he will do it
Pleasure induction I show her how much fun it will be to do it
Social comparison I tell him that everyone else is doing it
Monetary reward I offer her money so that she will do it.
Tactics & Big 5
Trait Tactic Typically Used
High surgency Coercion and responsibility invocation
Low surgency Self-abasement
High agreeableness Pleasure induction and reason
Low agreeableness Coercion and silent treatment
High Conscientiousness Reason
High emotional instability Mostly regression (but many used)
High openness Reason, pleasure induction, responsibility invocation
Low openness Social comparison
Machiavellianism: linked with an interpersonal style and strategy where people are used as tools for personal gain; high in males.
For those high in Machiavellianism:
- Individuals use exploitative social strategies
- They are more believable liars
- Often use tactics in romance and sexual domains
- White useful in short term, there are long term consequences.
Narcissism and Social Interaction
Selection associate with people who admire them
Evocation exhibitionism splits people
Manipulation highly exploitative of others.
CHAPTER 16: SEX, GENDER AND PERSONALITY
Sex difference: significant difference between men and women; can be anything, height, body type, personality.
Gender: masculine and feminine, not biological.
Gender stereo types: how men and women might or should differ; exaggeration of roles, not always true.
Effect Size: d statistic – difference in standard deviation units; +/- .20 is small, .5 is medium and .8 is large; a large effect size does not
necessarily have implications for any one person, it is a general statistic. 5
Sex Differences in Personality
Temperament in Children:
Inhibitory control (controlling urge to act up in class): girls > boys
Perceptual sensitivity: favours girls
Surgency (like extraversion, being dominant/active): favours boys
Negative affectivity (ability to feel anxious or depressed): no significant difference.
The Big 5:
Extra version – women are slightly more outgoing (gregariousness), d = -.15; men are slightly high on activity level, d = .09; men are
moderately higher on assertiveness, d=.50.
Agreeableness – women are higher on trusting, d = -.25; women are more tender-minded toward other individuals, d = .97; women
smile more than men, d=.60; men are more physically aggressive (moderate to large d); men commit more violent crimes.
Conscientiousness – women are slightly higher on order (wanting to have things more organized, d = -.13; small d doesn’t mean it
has no meaning, can still affect individual situations.
Neuroticism – men and women similar on impulsiveness, d = .06; women higher on anxiety and sadness, d = -.28
Sex Differences in Emotions:
Positive and negative emotions – women higher in frequency/intensity in both positive (joy, affection) and negative (sadness and
Other Personality factors:
Self-esteem – overall males score higher, d = .21; men higher in interest in casual sex and having more lifetime sex partners and
sexual aggression; but other personality traits play a role here (hostility, low empathy and narcissism).
Women >> Men (2:1, esp. ages 18-44)
- Women report more appetite symptoms
- Women report crying more; men are more aggressive
- Women more likely to seek help
- Men lack social support and do not want to ask for help
- Nervous activity (neuroticism) is more common in women; inactivity more common in men
- Men more socially withdrawn and report more aches; women more hurt feeling/self esteem
- Women have higher rates of rumination (dwelling on negative emotions, may lead to sustained symptoms)
- Men die by suicide at higher rates; women attempt suicide at higher rates.
- Rates of death higher in men (4:1)
- Rates of attempts higher in women (3:1)
o Reasons: men use more lethal methods; men seek help less often; men abuse more alcohol/drugs at time of
suicide; women are more likely to report past attempts
Suicidal Ideation: thinking about suicide; neuroticism (depression, angry/hostility/negativity) are all related to suicidal
ideation; for females – high neuroticism correlated with suicidal ideation; men – low conscientiousness (higher levels of
impulsivity) correlated with suicidal ideation (Velting, 1999). 6
Cognitive components: different stereotypes affect how we thing about people; should women be home makers, affects how we
categorize different people.
Emotional components: explains how we feel about certain people; biases about people.
Behaviour components: how we actually treat people who are stereotyped; ex. men get a better quote when purchasing a car; men
are more likely to get heart surgery first.
- Across cultures: women perceived as more communal (more group oriented); men perceived as instrumental (being
independent from the group)
Socialization Theory: sex differences due to reinforcement of being masculine or feminine (related to social learning theory)
Criticisms: causality (ex. parent -> child or vice versa); no origins of sex-differentiated socialization practices.
Social Role Theory: sex differences are because men and women are being distributed into different occupational/family roles; men
working, women at home.
Criticisms: no account for origin of sex-differentiated roles; we’re not seeing this same pattern today, so there should be differences.
Hormonal: sex differences in testosterone linked with traditional sex differences in behaviours; when women have more
testosterone they are more aggressive.
Criticisms: hormone-behaviour link is bi-directional (what comes first?); no account of origins of hormonal differences.
Evolution: sexes predicted to differ where people are recurrently faced with different adaptive problems.
Criticisms: no clear accounting of individual & within sex differences; many men are not aggressive and many women are aggressive.
Integrated theory: socialized + social roles, hormonal, evolutionary.
CHAPTER 16: CULTURE AND PERSONALITY
- Local within-group similarities collectively referred to as cultural variation
- Between-group differences
Approaches to Culture
Evoked culture: cultural differences created by differing environmental conditions activating a predictable set of responses;
considers culture by focusing on phenomena that are triggered in different ways by different environments; 2 key parts – 1)
universal underlying mechanism 2) environmental differences in how mechanism is activated.
Evoked cooperation – ex. food supply; cultural differences in degree to which groups share; high variance = more food sharing. (You
share your food with an unlucky hunter; it is more likely he will share with you when he is lucky)
Evoked mating strategies
The three things while rearing a child cause a child with high impulsivity and early reproduction.
- Harsh inconsistent childcare
Impulsivity and Early Reproduction - Erratically provided resources
- Marital discord
Sensitive, supportive, and responsive child rearing combined with reliable resources and spousal harmony creates a child with a
personality of conscientiousness and a mating strategy of commitment marked by delayed reproduction and stable marriage.
Evoked culture: Impact on mating
China – marriages last long; parents invest in children and higher value on chastity/virginity
Sweden – divorce more common; children born outside of marriage and lower value on chastity/virginity
Mating strategies may be differentially evoked in different cultures yields enduring cultural differences in mating strategies. 7
Culture of honor: insults are viewed as highly offensive public challenges which must be met with direct confrontation and physical
Insults: offensive public challenges that are met with confrontation and physical aggression (assumption: all humans have capacity
to develop sensitivity to insults and capacity to respond with violence).
Northern USA vs. Southern USA = southern states are more likely to endorse violence and aggression as a response to an insult (for
the purpose of protection).
Transmitted culture: representations in at least one person’s mind are transmitted to others; ex. moral values.
Cross Cultural Marriages
Challenges: prejudice, language and communication
Positive characteristics: wide choice of models/roles for children
Cultural differences in Self-Concept
Agency or independence – concerns regarding how you differentiate from this same larger group (akin to individualism)
Communion or interdependence – how you affiliate with or attach to a larger group (akin to collectivism)
Acculturation – the process of adapting to the way of life of a new culture; impact cultural identity and self-identity
Individualism: sense of self as autonomous and independent with priority to given personal goals
Collectivism: a sense of self as more connected to groups and interdepent, with priority given to group goals)
Acculturation and self-harm
Participants: Asian adolescent females and their parents & a sample of Asian women from all of the UK; half of teens had history of
self-harm in past year and half of Asian women had history of self-harm in past year.
Main findings – teens were less traditional then their parents overall; adolescents who were less traditional (in view of marriage and
work) were at higher risk for self-harm; having more traditional parents protected against self-harm; women who self-harmed were
less tradition vs the control women and the parents of adolescents who self-harmed.
Conclusion acculturation in specific domains may increase risk for self-harm, possibly through increased stress associated with the
Cultural Differences in Self-Enhancement
Self-enhancement: tendency to describe and present oneself with positive/socially valued attributes.
North Americans vs Asians maintain positive evaluation of self; because Asians are engaging in impression management or, cultural
differences are real and actually reflect true self-concepts.
Personality Variation within Culture
Culture impacts personality via:
1) Social class: (lower class parents emphasize obedience while upper class parents empathize importance of self-direction
and non comformity)
Lower class obedience
Upper class self-direction
2) Historical Era: ex. people who grew up during the great depression might be more anxious about job security and adopt a
more conservative spending style; detangling the effects of historical era on personality is extremely difficult. 8
Cultural universals: attempts to identify features of personality that appear to be universal or present in most or all human cultures;
these universals constitute the human nature level of analyzing personality.
- Incest avoidance
- Facial expressions of basic emotions
- Favoritism to in group members
- Favoritism toward kin over nonkin
- Collective identities
- Fear of snakes
- Division of labour by sex
- Revenge and retaliation
- Self-distinguished form others
- Sanctions for crimes against collectivity
- Reciprocity in relationships
- Envy, sexual jealous and love
Beliefs about the Sexes
Men active, loud, adventurous, obnoxious, aggressive, opinionated, arrogant, conceited
Women affectionate, modest, nervous, patient, changeable, charming, fearful
Emotional Experience and Expression
- Studies show that different cultures can recognize facial expressions of emotions of people in other cultures correctly.
- Difference between experiencing and expressing emotions; study with Japanese and American kids; when experimenter
was present Japanese children held back their emotions and when he was not present they made the same expressions as
the American children.
- Even though some cutlures can recognize emotions in other cultures, they might not all have words for these emotions.
- The experience and expression of emotions may be more culturally universal than the language used to describe them.
Universality for Dominance and warmth (two dimensions that are used to evaluate and describe personalities)
Big 5 (extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability & conscientiousness)
CHAPTER 18 – THE ADJUSTMENT DOMAIN: STRESS, COPING AND HEALTH
Models of the Personality-Illness Link
Illness Behaviour Model Personality and Illness
Health Behaviour Model
Personality moderates the stress-illness link – interacts with coping, thus impacting illness susceptibility
Criticism: unable to identify stable coping responses that are adaptive or maladaptive.
Personality interprets the below compone