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Lecture 4

Week 4 - Self and Personality.docx

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University of Waterloo
Igor Grossmann

Week 4: Self and Personality Lifestyle Punctuality Problem-Solving A Line Stereotypes The Self Personal Opinion Overriding Themes - There are aspects of self-concept that are universal and some that are culturally variable - Such differences have important implications for our social interactions and perceptions of them - Something as basic as “how we view ourselves” differs greatly across cultures 1 Who Am I? - If someone asked you to complete the sentence “I am…”, how would you complete it?; how would you describe yourself? - Americans (and interestingly, Kenyan undergrads) describe themselves in terms of enduring traits and personal characteristics o Characterizes findings in many Western countries - Non-student populations in Kenya however, describe themselves in terms of roles and relationships o Characterizes findings in much of the non-Western world Why I Am Who I Am - Researchers have suggested the existence of a fundamental difference in how the self is subjectively organized - Markus and Kitayama (1991) argue that this difference is based on people having either an independent or interdependent view of self - Independent view of self: a model of the self in which identity is thought to come from inner attributes that reflect a unique essence of the individual and that remain stable across situations and across the lifespan - Characteristic of the Western world - Identity is experienced as largely independent from others –identity remains largely constant across roles and situations - Important aspects of identity are one’s personal characteristics - Considerable fluidity exists between in-groups and out-groups 2 - Interdependent view of self: a model of the self in which individuals are perceived not as separate and distinct entities, but as participants in a larger social unit where identity is contingent upon key relationships with in-group members - Characteristic of much of non-Western world - Identity is interdependent with others –identity changes across situations as roles change - Roles, relationships, and memberships constitute important aspects of the self - Clear distinction exists between in-group and out- group - There exists a neural basis for this distinction o When participants were asked to use a list of adjectives to evaluate themselves and their mothers  Westerners showed different regions of activation  Chinese showed activation in the same regions (regions linked to self-representation) Individualism vs. Collectivism - Another underlying different between many cultures is individualism/collectivism - Individualistic cultures tend to emphasize independent aspects of the self –value distinctiveness and self-reliance - Collectivism cultures tend to emphasize interdependent aspects of the self – value close relationships and group memberships - Individualism –highest in US, followed by other English-speaking countries and Western European nations - Collectivism –highest in Asia and Latina America, but also seen in Africa, Eastern and Southern Europe, and South Pacific 3 - Beyond individualism/collectivism, other dimensions have also been explored, though gamering had much less attention o Power distance o Uncertainty avoidance o Vertical-horizontal social structure o Context-dependence o Social complexity o Tightness vs. looseness Caution with Individualism/Collectivism - Individualism/collectivism is not meant to be a dichotomy - In reality, people embody varying degrees of both o The same dynamic applies to a given culture as well (e.g., while Americans are generally individualistic, some are collectivistic, and some are more/less individualistic than others) o Knowledge structures about both concepts allow cultural priming studies to work Culture and Gender - Cultures around the world have widely different views on whether roles, obligations, and rights of men and women should be different o High on gender egalitarianism are countries like Finland and Germany o Low on gender egalitarianism are countries like Pakistan and Nigeria - Males and females in a given culture share similar gender attitudes - Males generally have more traditional gender views than females - Some predictors of higher gender egalitarianism include: o Greater individualism o Urbanization - Note that these are correlations, not causes of gender egalitarianism 4 Origins of Gender (In) Equality - Bosterup (1970) argued that culture differences in gender norms may result from type of agricultural method o In particular, cultures that rely primarily on ploughs are expected to be associated with more gender inequality  Children often stay with women due to dangers of being around ploughs (and large animals that pull ploughs)  Strong division of labour is thus established - Alesina, Giuliano, and Nunn (th11) investigated cultures that primarily used ploughs during and before 19 century versus those that did not o Those that relied on ploughs before were currently still low on gender egalitarianism and less female labor force participation o The same was found in the US with immigrants’ cultures of origin as a predictor o Evidence of persistence of culture Culture and Context-Dependency of the Self - Cousins (1988, JPSP) o If the self is recognized as socially contingent, the generic theory of the self might also be socially contingent o TST –“I am…”  General vs. context-specific conditions 5 Self-Consistency - Ask yourself –Are you the same person everywhere you go –regardless of your interaction partner or the situation? - Researchers have noted cultural differences in the level of self-consistency shown by participants o In one study, participants were asked to sit in different contexts (e.g., professor’s office, with another student) and describe themselves  Japanese participants varied in their self-descriptors depending on the context  American participants responded similarly across contexts Implications of Self-(In) Consistency - Cognitive dissonance: because we have strong motivations to be consistent, we feel distress (or dissonance) when we see our own inconsistencies o Our motivation for consistency compels us to resolve this dissonance o Doing so entails either changing behaviours to be in line with our attitudes or changing attitudes - Festinger (1957) o Cognitive dissonance theory: when two cognitions do not go together, people experi
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