What you know about you: The Self
According to William James, the self includes the me, the object of selfknowledge, and the I, the mysterious entity that
does the knowing. Psychology has much more to say about the me than the I.
The Self across Cultures
Some cultural analyses have concluded that the idea of the “self” is a Western cultural artefact; other research has
compared the ways the self is conceptualized in different cultures, including issues of selfregard and selfdetermination.
The Contents of the Self
In terms of the me, the self comprises everything we know, or think we know, about what we are like, including both
declarative and procedural selfknowledge.
Declarative self: An individual’s conscious opinions about his her own personality traits & other relevant attributes
1)Self esteem; overall opinion of whether you are good or bad, worth or unworthy, or somewhere between
2) More detailed; contains everything you know, or think you know, about your traits and abilities
Selfesteem can cause problems when it is too low or too high because, according to Leary’s sociometer theory, it serves
as a useful gauge of one’s social standing.
Psychologists theorize that the wide range of knowledge one has about one’s psychological attributes (ie the declarative
self) is located in a cognitive structure called the self schema. The selfschema can be assessed via S data (eg.
questionnaires, such as CPI) or B data (eg. reactiontime studies).
• A methodological implication is that the phenomena studied by cognitive oriented personality psychologists, and
trait psychologists, may not be as different as is sometimes presumed.
• One’s selfview (conceptualized as a schema or trait) may have important consequences for how one processes
information (… “domain of expertise”: helps us remember a lot of information about ourselves and process this
information quickly, but can keep one from seeing beyond the boundaries of their own selfimage).
• Case studies of braindamaged individuals suggest that one’s sense of self and personality can remain intact even
when all the specific memories that created it are lost.
The selfreference effect refers to the enhancement of longterm memory that comes from thinking of how information
relates to the self.
Your view of your own capabilities—your selfefficacy—influences what you will attempt to do. Carol Dweck theorizes
that beliefs about the self are a major foundation of personality, that they affect what a person will do in life, and that they
can be changed.
Possible selves (images we have or can construct of the other possible ways we might be) can affect our goals in life.
According to selfdiscrepancy theory, we have two kinds of desired selves that represent different foci to life:
• IDEAL SELF: our view of what we could be at our best; rewardbased, GO system, focus on pursuit of
pleasures… the state of finally attaining all of the rewards you seek. Failure=depression (disappointment)
• OUGHT SELF: our view of what we should (as opposed to what we would like to) be; punishmentbased, STOP
system. Failure= anxiety (fear) Accurate selfknowledge is a hallmark of good health
1) People who are healthy, secure, and wise enough to see the world as it is, without the need to distort anything,
will tend to see themselves more accurately too
2) A person with accurate selfknowledge is in a better position to make good decisions on important issues ranging
from what occupation to pursue to marriage partners
Realistic Accuracy Model (RAM): One can gain accurate knowledge of anyone’s personality:
1) The person must do something relevant to the tra