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Lecture 3: The Self

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Lecture 3: The Self September 27, 2010 “There are 3 things extremely hard: Steel, a Diamond, and to know one’s Self.” Benjamin Franklin Part I: The Self Concept (1) Large set of attributes that are linked together: o Personal dispositions o Physical characteristics o Preferences (likes/dislikes), and values - Self-concept: all the beliefs that we have about the self (2)The self-concept is composed of many different selves (roles) - E.g., professor in school, father of family, scientific, etc. - Represents different roles that one plays in front of different people - Research suggests that having a complex self-concept is a positive thing; serves as a buffer/protects us for when any single self is threatened or damaged → It is damaging to not have different roles; for e.g., you could be regarded as a crappy professor, but at least your family loves you (3)Some attributes are associated with one self - Messy as a single person, but objective as a scientist (4)Some attributes are more basic and enduring across situations/roles - E.g., Regardless of the role, one can be curious and happy; leads to stability and consistency in our personality/ behaviour - They are our basic personality traits (5)Potential selves (ought self and ideal self) - Self I ought to be… Lecture 3: The Self September 27, 2010 - Self I’d ideally like to be → although being an effective leader is not part of my self- concept, my ideal self would be an effective leader Part 2: The Origins of the Self Concept - 4 origins of self-concept: 1. Social comparison processes (p.144) A. I can learn about who I am by comparing myself to other people 2. Feedback from others (p.146) A. Come to see yourself in the way that others describe you 3. Social contexts (p.146) 4. Cultural values (p.147-148) 5. Our Behaviour: we are what we do (NOT IN TXT) - Seems counter-intuitive → What we do stems from who we are → In other words, my behaviour determines my preferences  Self Perception Theory (Bem) A. BASIC IDEA: “when internal cues are weak or ambiguous, we come to know who we are by observing our behaviour and the circumstances in which the behaviour occurs.” i. E.g., do I like big macs? 1. Look at my behaviour: last time I went to mcdicks, I ate a big mac. 2. Circumstances: was I forced? Was it the only burger on the menu? 3. Conclusion: I ate a big mac without compelling circumstances that made me, which means that I did it because I like it. Therefore, I like big macs because I eat them. Lecture 3: The Self September 27, 2010 - Our behaviour does not always influence the circumstances that define who we are; only when we are not sure of who we are does our behaviour always influence the circumstances that define who we are - Point here: when we are not confident in who we are, we look at circumstances from what we do - So we use our behaviour to define who we are only when we’re not sure who we are - When we’re sure of who we are then our behaviour becomes who we are B. The effects of rewards on self-perceptions 1. A folktale. - Elderly man lived on a street where young boys played. They were loud and bothered him. He told the boys that he liked the noise and paid them $5 to continue playing on his street, then $3, $2, $1, and lastly $0.50. At such a low payment from the first time around, they decided to stop playing in front of the old man’s house because it wasn’t worth it, even though they were doing it for free all those times before the old man proposed this deal. 2. The Over justification Effect: a. When people are given external rewards (/external justifications) for engaging in intrinsically interesting activities, their intrinsic interest will be undermined - Boys asked themselves whether they liked playing on the street before they were rewarded and they concluded that they played on the street before because they liked it (intrinsic reason), but then they started doing it because of the reward (extrinsic reason). So the reward changed the circumstances, which changed their perception of the reasoning for their actions (extrinsic v intrinsic justification; circumstances surrounding behaviour) - Relating this to the self-concept—only when extrinsic rewards/interest are introduced, does this undermine intrinsic rewards/interests - STUDY: students were paid to help others. Then given the opportunity to help for free—the students who were previously rewarded for helping were less likely to help because they concluded that they were only a helpful person when paid (don’t help without payment because those were the previous circumstances for their previous behaviour, which influences their present behaviour) Lecture 3: The Self September 27, 2010 3. An exception to the overjustification effect: b. Doesn’t occur when the rewards are viewed as a sign of competence (e.g., when rewards indicate superior performance, a job well-done) - Instead of rewarding class attendance, give reward for SUPERIOR performance like having perfect attendance → E.g. winning Nobel prize—It won’t undermine competence, it will increase intrinsic motivation Part 3: Becoming Aware of the Self Self-Awareness Theory A. Factors that increase self-awareness: o mirrors, o audiences, o cameras, o watching/hearing self on videotape, o walking into a room full of strangers, o being in a brightly lit room B. Self-awareness leads to self-evaluation Become aware of internal self-standards (e.g., the “ideal” self); Compare current behaviour to standards; a. If meeting our ideal standards, we feel good; b. if not we feel uncomfortable  motivated to reduce this uncomfortable state C. How? Either: 1. “Shape up” or 2. “Ship out” (1)Shaping up: o reduce discrepancy between actual-ideal self (try to meet the ideal standards) Lecture 3: The Self September 27, 2010  matching the standards o Examples: o The “shock study” (males shock females) - They shocked them for poor performance - ½ were seated in front of a mirror to increase self-awareness; the other ½ were not in the presence of a mirror → Measured the amount of shocks given- results showed that they were less likely to shock the females when they were self-aware (in front of mirror) → when they were self-aware, this caused a discrepancy because ideally you do not normally hurt other people (ideal standard) → as a result, they don’t follow through in order to match their ideal standards of behaviour to not hurt other people → presumably, when the mirror was present (high self-awareness), males didn’t feel comfortable administering shock → when mirror was not present (low self-awareness), males did not care to “shape up” and therefore, felt more comfortable chocking females o The “Halloween study” (stealing candy) - Children went to a psychologist’s home on Halloween for some candy - They were tested individually - They were told that they could take 1 candy from a b
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