PSYB10H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Blood Sugar, Impression Management, Erving Goffman

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PSYB10 – Introduction to Social Psychology
LEC 02: The Self
What is the self?
- Rene Descartes – ‘I think, therefore I am’
- David Hume – response to Descartes, said that Descartes was wrong, said do you really know
who you are without your perceptions of the world
Nature of the social self (William James – principles of psychology)
- Said there were 3 components of the self:
- Individual self – beliefs about other unique personal traits, abilities, preferences, tastes, etc.
- 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
- Family and socialization agents
oCharles Cooley – looking-glass self – other people’s reactions to use serve as a mirror of
sorts, reflecting our image so that we can see it
oReflected self-appraisals: beliefs about what others think of our social selves
oActivity in certain parts of the brain are heightened during self-referential cognition
- Situationism and the social self – our social self shifts from one situation to the next (ex. in a job
interview vs with your friends)
oWorking self-concept: subset of self-knowledge that is brought to mind in a particular
context (Markus and Wurf)
oWe highlight what makes us unique in a given social situation (ex. child essay about
themselves)
oCan be malleable (shift from one context to another) but also have core components
that persist across contexts
oRelational self-beliefs – beliefs about our identities in specific relationships (ex. who you
are as a son/daughter feels different than who you are as a boyfriend)
oCollective self-beliefs – beliefs about our identity as members of important social
categories (ex. identity based on citizenship, ethnicity, gender, profession, etc.)
oDistinctiveness – we highlight aspects of the self that make us feel most unique in a
given context (ex. age seems more important to self-definition if you are surrounded by
much older people)
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PSYB10 – Introduction to Social Psychology
oSocial context – sense of self may shift dramatically depending on with whom we are
interacting (ex. may feel different about the self when interacting with authority figures
than when interacting with subordinates)
- Culture and social self
oConfucius (Chinese philosopher) emphasized importance of knowing one’s place in
society
oIn western societies, people are concerned with individuality, freedom, self-expression
oIndependent self-construal – Europe & NA – self is an autonomous entity that is distinct
and separate from others
oInterdependent self-construal – Asia and rest of the world – self is fundamentally
connected to other people
- Gender and social self
oMen generally have more independent and women have more interdependent views of
self
oWomen are more likely to refer to social characteristics and relationship when
describing themselves than men
oWomen more attuned to external social cues whereas as men more attuned to their
internal responses
oDifferences may be due to socialization (cultural stereotypes, parental feedback,
educational treatment)
oEvolution may contribute to gender differences
Independent views of self may advantage males in acts like physical competition
and hunting
Interdependent views of self may advantage females in acts related to
maintaining social bonds and care giving
- Social comparison theory: hypothesis that people compare themselves to other people in order
to obtain an accurate assessment of their own opinions, abilities, and internal states
oDownward social comparisons may boost self-esteem by making us feel better about
the self
oUpward social comparisons may motivate self-improvement
- Narratives about the social self
oWesterners tell stories from inside out – they are at the center
oEasterners tell stories from outside in – starting from social world, looking back at
themselves as object of attention
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PSYB10 – Introduction to Social Psychology
Organization of self-knowledge
- Knowledge that makes up our social self is stored in memory and capable of being retrieved, in
turn, it influences our thoughts, feelings and behaviours
- Self schemas – cognitive structures, derived from past experience, that represent a person’s
beliefs and feelings about the self in particular domains
oOur social knowledge organizes how we construe our social world
oSelf-reference effect – tendency for info that is related to the self to be more thoroughly
processed and integrated with existing self-knowledge, thereby making it more
memorable
oThe more you personalize events and objects in an environment, the more likely you will
be to think about and remember that info
- Self-complexity theory – tendency to define the self in terms of multiple domains that are
relatively distinct from one another in content
oLevel of self-complexity can have important consequences – ex. when you are
confronted with negative events or difficulties – low self-complexity will cause all our
domains to have that same negativity
Self-esteem: positive or negative overall evaluation that each person has of himself or herself
- Thought that elevating self-esteem would cure society’s ills, but only in Western society
- Trait self-esteem – person’s enduring level of self-regard across time
oFairly stable
- State self-esteem – dynamic, changeable self-evaluations that are experienced as momentary
feelings about the self
oEx. current mood will shift self-esteem up or down
- Contingencies of self-worth: account of self-esteem that maintains that self-esteem is
contingent on successes and failures in domains on which a person has based his or her self-
worth (Crocker and colleagues)
oEx. academically focused – when you do well, your self-esteem should go up
oSelf-esteem depends heavily on contingencies of self-worth
oImportant to base your sense of self-worth on many domains (ex. not just on academic
excellence because if you do badly, it will be reflected everywhere)
oBut it is costly to make self-esteem your primary goal:
Lowered feelings of autonomy
Less receptiveness to feedback that could’ve been useful
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Document Summary

Rene descartes i think, therefore i am". David hume response to descartes, said that descartes was wrong, said do you really know who you are without your perceptions of the world. Nature of the social self (william james principles of psychology) Said there were 3 components of the self: Individual self beliefs about other unique personal traits, abilities, preferences, tastes, etc. Relational self beliefs about our identities in specific relationships. Collective self beliefs about our identities as members of social groups to which we belong. Independent views of self may advantage males in acts like physical competition and hunting. Interdependent views of self may advantage females in acts related to maintaining social bonds and care giving. Narratives about the social self: westerners tell stories from inside out they are at the center, easterners tell stories from outside in starting from social world, looking back at themselves as object of attention.

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