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Social Psychology
SOP 3004
Steve Charman

Illusion of the self  You aren’t as special as you think you are  Self-awareness o People are usually not self-focused o Certain situations can increase self-awareness (e.g., mirror) o Heightened self-awareness can lead us to compare ourselves to a standard o Do we want to know ourselves?  This comparison often produces negative discrepancies, leading to discomfort  In order to cope, we can do 2 things”  Behave in ways to reduce the discrepancy  Withdraw from self-awareness o Examples of self-awareness effects  Thieving trick-or-treaters  Cheating on tests  Stereotyping others  Receiving bogus negative feedback causes people to drink more (to escape self-awareness) o People are not always motivated to find accurate information o Instead we often want to find self-enhancing information  Self-esteem o An affective component of the self, consisting of a person’s positive and negative evaluations o High SE-better health, happier, more confident, more persistent at tasks o What do people think of themselves?  People tend to think highly of themselves  Positive vs negative traits  Self-ratings vs other-ratings  Favorite letters  How can unrealistically high SE be maintained?  Self-enhancement: self-serving cognitions o Most people think they’re better than average for most traits  E.g., more intelligent, healthier, more ethical, etc.  25% of high school seniors saw themselves in the top 1% on trait o U.S. News & World Report (March 31, 1997)  Assuming heaven exists, who is likely to go there?  O.J. Simpson (19%)  Bill Clinton (52%)  Princess Diana (60%)  Oprah (66%)  Mother Teresa (79%)  You (87%) o People take credit for successes and distance themselves from failure  Overestimate contributions to team efforts  Good grades vs. bad grades o Unrealistic optimism  People believe that their future will be better than that of the average person  Happier  Better job  Less likely to get divorced  Less likely to have heart attack  Why? o Consequences of unrealistic optimism  Underestimation of the negative consequences of one’s behavior  E.g., sexually active undergraduate women and contraceptive use o False consensus: the tendency for people to overestimate the extent to which other people share their opinions and undesirable behaviors  “Everybody drinks and drives”  “Everybody cheats on their taxes”  “Everybody smokes” o False uniqueness: the tendency for people to underestimate the extent to which other people share their abilities and desirable behaviors  Alcohol obtainers  Shower ban o BIRGing
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