PSYCH 2C03 – Nov 13 final th
What is self-esteem? (Rosenberg’s SE Scale)
If SE high.. – agree on the whole I am satisfied with myself, I feel that have a number of good qualities, I
am able to do things as well as most other people, I take positive attitude toward myself => even making
theses statement make us feel good
If SE slow.. – at times, I think I am no good at all, don’t have much to be proud of, feel useless at times,
inclined to feel that I am a failure
Self-esteem is important!
- Caveat: independent/individualist vs. interdependent/collectivist selves => Western/Europe
culture =>individualistic culture. China/ japan/India => collectivist selves. In fact it is irrelevant
to most cultures.
The Cross-cultural self
Individualist ‘self’ Collectivist ‘self’
- Individualists define themselves in terms of - Collectivist define themselves in terms of
personal traits; things about them, why relationships to other people; I belong to
they do, their personality this group
- Very self-centered - Give priority to groups goals
- Give priority to own goals - Who am i? Father, Buddhist, Japanese
- Who am i? I am outgoing, smart, funny, (they focus on group membership), what is
great doctor (not using social category, my group?
they care how they are doing it, ‘great’)
- Others circle you, they are part of you, they are important, but they are not completely twined
- Their selves are interacting, they are twined
- View of ‘self’ is different from across cultures
Three sources of evidence of ‘why self-esteem is important’ in individualists cultures
- People from western culture have high SE
- Engage in cognitive biases to enhance or maintain their SE
- Do whatever it takes to maintain their positive SE
- Most people have high SE
- High end – most of people pretty feel good about themselves
- Graph is more shifted more to given standard deviation - Do most people think they are better than other people than actually what they are?
Small correlations between SE and actual success => Low correlation of success and SE,
hard to predict self-esteem on what they can do
Large correlations between SE and self-perceived success: predicts how you think you are
doing on things => how well you believe you are doing something associated with your self-
esteem-ness ex) how smart you think you are? => can predicts self-esteem
- Cognitive bias is going on here
Even larger correlations between SE and self-perceived success on SE relevant tasks: it’s not
how we actually do on something, how we ‘THINK’.
- Why these differences?
- Cognitive bias – enhance or maintain our SE
a. Encoding/recall biases: encoding or recalling that help you remember about all your
successes and make it difficult to bring them remind about your failures => you selectively
encode your successes
b. Definitional biases: you think you are considerate person => what is ‘considerateness’?
Different definition of ‘considerate’ => You change definition
c. Self-serving attributional bias (SSAB): refers to tendency to take more credit for success and
blame for failure => own your success ‘I did it because of me’. Failure =>nothing to do with
Internal attributions - (internal quality ‘I am super smart’) – good thing
External attribution – ‘because I was not lucky’ – bad thing => they stop forcing them to do,
d. Unrealistically positive self-views (positive bias): you think you are better than average =>
help you feel good about yourself.
e. Unrealistic optimism: we have this belief that bad things happen to bad people, good things
happen to good people. I am a good person so only good things going to happen to me, not
Ex) optimistic about not using condoms => what will happen?
Ex2) you are good person, so no cancer?
Ex3) average person getting divorce 43%, You will get divorce 15%
Ex4) what do you think what will be class average on first midterm d- , your average? B-
Very dangerous but can boost or maintain our self-esteem
f. Illusory control over good events: we believe we have some sort of control over events that
no one has control over; ex) dice game: bat more when they are rolling a dice than when
others rolling dice.
Langer lottery ticket expt: buying $1 ticket
IV: choice (buy their own or given)
Can I get ticket back? I will pay as much as you want
DV: Sell-back Price
No choice: about $1 to 2
Choice: really wanted to make a profit => over 8 dollar There is illusion of control over chance events that allows you anything you make allows you
3) Doing whatever it takes- associating with Winners, Dissociating from losers. we need to protect
- Most people will do anything even hurting others to maintain a positive SE
- Basking in reflected glory: One thing we do very often, associate with winners, dissociate from
looser; We want to be seen with them, friend with them, so we can borrow success
- NB: association won’t always boost SE, associate with people whose successes help our SE,
dissociate from people whose failures hurt our SE.
Arizona State U. football study (Cialdini) on factors predicting associations vs. dissociation:
depend on how football team does. Call people at home during the football game week
Ask them if they want to associate or dissociate
- IV: SE=> false feedback on trivia test; success or failure or no feedback (to manipulate self-
Before hanging up, ask them about football games (based on language use)
- DV: % SS using ‘we’ when describing football wins and losses – to imply association and
‘we won or we lost’ – including yourself - association
‘they won or they lost’ – not including yourself- dissociation
Success condition(their self-esteem is already high): no s.d whether their team won or lost
Control (no feedback) => little bit of dissociations from looser; significantly less saying ‘we
lost’. More likely to say ‘they lost’ to protect their self-esteem
Failure condition => boosted association ‘we won’, Dissociation ‘they lost’.
- BUT there are other ways of dealing with other’s successes and failure;
Downward social comparisons: you are looking down at the person who is not as good as
you ex) ‘I am better than this person, I am above them’
Up wards social comparison: we hate to make upward social comparisons ‘ that person is
amazing’ => painful. We are trying to avoid it
Tesser’s Self-esteem maintenance model: how this test is relevant to my self-esteem?
Task is of Low relevance Task is of High relevance
Close relationship Bask Compare
- Who is doing well here? - They are wonderful, but
Do I have some sort of you suck, put strain on
relationship with them? relationship hard and
My best freidns is x x hard to maintain
champion! I relationship
Distant/no relationship Don’t care Bask
- Bask yourself in glow of
his success even he is
better than you, it’s fine - Self-Handicapping: sometimes, we will hurt ourselves to preserve our self-esteem; not practicing
so not going well. I even didn’t practice, but I did well! Even though you are losing, but chance of
you could win. 1) Lowering chance of success => but if she wins, she is a hero (I bit her without
practice). 2) Nice excuse for failure
Research support? (Berglas & Jones, 1978) – recruited subjects in the lab=> effects of brand new
drugs on intellectual performance => take a test =>after seeing how you did on test, you can choose
to take drug => and re-do the test
IV: test difficult (easy vs. hard – you take either easy or hard test)
DV: % choosing disruptive drug
Results: will they choose disruptive drug? ‘re-test’ – great harm of self-esteem if I do worse
Subject who took easy test: very rarely take disruptive drug, about 10 % choosing disruptive
drug. They are not in risk of harming self-esteem
Subject who took hard test: I don’t think I can do that again, over 50% choosing disruptive
drug. Even I fail on re-test, its drug, not me. No matter what the result is, I still feel good
about myself => save their self-esteem
- We behave as though we have a need for high SE; SE is very important to us so we do many
things to preserve our SE
o We use self-serving bias
o We all ourselves with successful groups and people
o We dissociate from unsuccessful groups and people
o We will hurt our friends to feel good about ourselves
o We will hurt ourselves to feel good about ourselves
- Caveat: But this is not representing most other cultures; this is very North American, (high
individualism). In other country, it is not very self-finding, they are less likely to blame ‘self’
- Individualistic: disposition attribution => with one rude behavior, we attribute it to that person’s
Attribution theory – how do we interpret out own and other’s behavior?
- What are attributions? Why did x happen? Because.. (explanation)
- Why use attributions? We much need to understand world around us – rules of thumb; you don’t
need to think deeply, you have implemented thought
Individualistic country => disposition attribution: ‘they did this because they are’
- We can use attributions to help us understand; our emotions, our behaviors, and others’
Fundamental Attributional Error (FAE) – explaining other’s behavior
- Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE, aka Correspondence Bias): it is tendency to explain other’s
behavior in terms of disposition, while ignoring situational factors. Their behavior corresponds to
their disposition. - Impression formation: we imagine their disposition based on impression when we first see them.
‘people are what we see them do’
Ex) wee someone name ‘smart’ => we think that person is smart
‘I am not SPOCK’ – everyone thought he is spock
Ex2) movie actor playing only good guy => we believe he is really good guy
- Interpreting Milgram’s obedient subjects: 65% of people are obedient in this experiment. In
research, do you think you will behave in this way? – but what we don’t see is the ‘situation’.
- Most of time, we don’t think about situation; it requires lot of works, so we just use heuristic
- Interpreting other’s knowledge: smart or stupid – can make person far more knowledgeable or
** We can draw conclusion by witnessing one behavior
- Interpreting essays (jones &harries, 1967) : subjects read and rate Fred’s attitude towards Castro.
- IV: Condition under which Fred wrote essay:
Free choice: he chose he own topic
No choice – he is given topics to write
Coin flip – he chose topic by flipping coin
Was provided with arguments
Copied an essay written by someone else
Read the essay aloud, but didn’t write it
- DV: rating of Fred’s attitude toward Castro (negative to positive)?
- Castro study results:
Free choice: when controversial essay (anti-Castro) is chosen by Freud’s own decision, they
believed Fred hates Castro vice versa.
With other IVs, with pro-Castro essay => more likely think he is more toward liking Castro
even if he didn’t write himself. (including just reading aloud, coping paper, no choice)
Is the FAE truly ‘fundamental’? Cross-cultural evidence
- Maybe in other culture (collectivist cultures), they are more likely to make situational factors
- Miller (1984) – subjects are told negative stories such as someone did something bad and given
lists of why this person behaves this way, it was either due to situational factor or dispositional
% of dispositional Attributions: In U.S, Older Americans were => more likely to make
dispositional attributions; he is jerk, clumsy. In India, they are far less likely to make
% of situational attributions: In U.S, they are less likely to make situational attribution. In
India, they are much more likely to make situational factors.
Across cultures, very different attributions according to disposition or situation
- Is the FAE truly ‘fundamental’? there are attribution errors but different across cultures
AOB: Actor observer bias – explaining Own & others’ behaviors (Jones & Nisbett, 1971) - We explain others’ behavior in terms of disposition
- BUT also, we explain our own behaviors in terms of situation (also can help self-esteem)
- Because we know our situation! (we focus on our self)
- Why is actor studying so hard? Actor – upcoming difficult exam, observer – well, she is very
hard working and ambitious.
- Mechanism? Why does this happen?
Knowledge of the actor: if you know the actor well, easy for you make a situational
factors. If we don’t know, it is much easier to attribute dispositional factor
Point of view: perceptual salient - we just can’t perceptually capture other’s situation
because we are not motivated to his situation
Knowledge of the Actor (Nisbett et al., 1973)
- Does how well we know someone affect our likelihood of viewing them dispositonally vs.
- Ask target’s personality
- IV: knowledge of target (self, best friend, acquaintance (don’t know very well), Walter
Ex) example of traits descriptors: is this person serious or lighthearted? Or depends on situation?
- DV: rating target on trait descriptors out of 20 possible description (% dispositional vs. situational)
Self: about 10 dispositional descriptors used – half of time, we use dispositional description,
half of things are depends on situation (we know ourselves)
Best friend: about 13
Walter Cronkite: about 16. No one consider about his situations => mostly used dispositonal
**Better I know someone less likely to use dispositional attribution, more likely to consider
Point of view (Lassiter &Irvine Mock Jury Experiment) – what am I noticing?
- Subjects choose guilty or not-guilty after they watch video of a confession.
- IV: Point Of View – video is focused either on defendant (disposition) as he made confession or
on cop (situation - you can hear angry cop in the video, but you can’t see him => (subject is
forced to look at defendant)
- DV: Verdict – do you still think he is guilty? Or innocent?
Focused on defendant (disposition) =>They believed what they saw on clip, this is guilty
person confessing to crime
Focused on cop (situation) => more likely to vote for not guilty => this is pretty scary
situation, he might confessed because of scary cop
- Real-world implications?
Effects of P.O.V on own behavior - What happens when we see ourselves as others do?
- Deiner &Wallburn cheating experiment: subjects taking intelligence test individually
- IV: P.O.V (mirror vs. no mirror) - Mirror either facing the subject or turned around
- DV: % cheating – here cheating is keep working on test after buzzer went (time limit)
When Mirror is present: unlikely to continue after buzzer went
No mirror: about 70% of subject cheated
- As soon as we don’t have to watch ourselves doing cheating, we cheat
- Just looking at mirror make you aware of yourself as an object (when we are able to make a
How do we know what we’re feeling?
- Continue on next class… Psych 2C03 – Nov 20 th
How do we know what we’re feeling?
- Attribution theory: how we know what emotions we are feeling
- Two factor theory of emotion (Schachter)
- we deduce our emotional state by assessing our:
o physiological arousal
o situation (allow us to make a attribution about what is causing arousal)
- Our assessment usually leads to correct attributions.
Ex) arousal is high, someone is just caught on highway => terrified
- BUT: unexplained physiological arousal is sometimes misattributed to arousal-irrelevant
situational factors, thus creating a false emotion.
Ex) not expected arousal by caffeine => you think that person is very attractive
Ex2) not expected high arousal + people laughing = ‘joy’
Research evidence (Schachter & Singer, 1962 experiment)
arousal (placebo – no effect, epi-informed (speed) – going to feel agitated , epi-
uninformed(no side effect)
situation (euphoria vs. anger conditions)
- Subject took drugs and some of them took placebo, and others took vitamins and half of them are
told the effect of vitamins
- After taking drugs, they are sent to waiting room
- In waiting room , there is confederate behaving euphoria manner or extremely angry man
- Attributional process ( unconscious) give explanation
- DV: emotion; self-report (rate your feeling on scale) and facial expression (asked subjects in
waiting room and they were being watched by readers)
Anger Condition Euphoria Condition
Placebo group Not angry Not euphoric
- You got extra arousal,
but you know why
Epi-informed Not angry Not euphoric
- You know why are you
Epi-uninformed ANGRY EUPHORIC
- You don’t know why
you are aroused, so you
consider situation even it
- If you don’t know about arousal, you look at situation and decide
- This is not all about anger, also happiness - We try to make adjustment unconsciously, but we can’t quite make it well..
- Attributions help us quickly make sense of the world
- They sometimes help preserve our SE; recall SSAB’s
- They help us preserve processing power: we have pre-programmed way of explaining other
people, you don’t have to think, you automatically make disposition or situation attribution
- Recall value of peripheral processing vs. central processing
- Does it matter that our attributions about others and ourselves may be incorrect? Even it is
sometimes incorrect, it seems to work for us after all. It is accurate enough and save energy
- Most interesting theory in social psychology
- Dissonance Theory is about the relationship between attitudes(cognition and belief) and
- We used to use attitude to predict behaviors by theory of planned behavior/reasoned action
- BUT DT introduced the idea that we use behavior to predict attitudes
Roots of DT: when prophecy fails (field study)
- Recall the Doomsday Cult field study: there will be a huge flood and world will end. There’s a
cult in belief of god will send aliens to save us from huge flood. What if world doesn’t end?
- No flood on the date
- No flying saucer
Cult member left feeling dumb
- What to do? You put all effort for preparing for world to end
Quit cult and feel like an idiot: all my SE is destroyed
Or stay with cult and feel like a hero:
- Message from God => god told her that reason world hadn’t ended was that Cult member
changed his mind. Publicity seeking, more devotion (they save the world)
o I am a smart and reasonable person (one of the member in Cult will say)
o I joined a cult
o I joined this cult in order to escape from a great flood, be saved by aliens, and then..return to
o But The flood never happened
o But the aliens never came
=> Dissonance! Psychological inconsistency => discomfort, we call it ‘dissonance’=> therefore
- They had essentially distorted what it happened to So what is Dissonance theory? (Festinger’s original Operationalization)
- Dissonance arises as a result of psychological inconsistency: refers to inconsistency between
attitude and behaviors
Ex) when our behavior is at odds with out attitudes, we feel psychological inconsistency
- Dissonance is physiologically and psychologically uncomfortable; you feel very distress when
you feel dissonance
Discomfort => drive state that motivated us to do anything we can to get rid of it
You will do anything to get rid of horrible discomfort
- Two methods of dissonance reduction (DR)
1) Automatic attitude change: make your attitude and behavior consistent; destroy attitude so it
matches behavior (unconscious)
2) Controlled motivated reasoning bias => create consistency ( making them match by reasoning
Example 1: attitude change
o people who go to lot trouble to join the club seems to like club after all. (attitude change)
o Horrible initiation to get into club => you like club too much
o Process of being torture by member of club => something in you is changed to allow people
to torture you
o Aronson &Mills (1959): Women are randomly assigned to initiation (no pre-motivation) and
after they passed initiation, they go into each discussion based on book 'sexual behavior of
Methods: discussing about sex (interesting topic)
Control: they think they are listening to discussion but it is recorded. Interesting or
o IV: severity of initiation
no initiation control
mild – 5 words related to sex (prostitute, virgin)
Severe – read aloud 12 horrible scene words, 2 vivid pornographic words..
o DV: dissonance reduction; attitudes re. value of discussion (scale zero to 200)
Control/mind condition: no significant difference in value of discussion (about 165~)
Severe condition: there is significant increase in value of discussion (little bit of attitude
o Severe condition did change their attitude in a direction of making them feel better about
what they’ve been trough
o In terms of dissonance theory, they used automatic attitude change
1. That discussion was very boring.. it was all about animal
2. I went through a very embarrassing initiation to get into it Dissonance! Therefore distortion of #1 = easiest to distort (unconscious attitude changing,
automatic). Distort easiest thing to distort
1. That discussion was very boring
2. I went through a mildly embarrassing initiation to get into it
No dissonance, no distortion
Example 2: attitude change
o Festinger & Carlsmith (1959): subjects participate in an extremely dull study
o IV: Control vs. lie to next subject (favor is lying to next subject that experiment is very
interesting and exciting). Why?
Two experimental group: one group is paid $ 1 other group is paid $20
o DV: ‘separate study’ - how enjoyable was the study you just participated in? would you
participate in a similar study again?
Control: didn’t like experiment, they were below 0
Paid $20: they didn’t like experiment either
Paid $1: liked experiment. Why?
Cognitions? What are they unconsciously experiencing?
1. That experiment was very boring
2. I told the next subject that it was great fun
3. I was paid $1 to tell him that
DISSONANCE! Therefore distortion of #1
What’s left to distort, how enjoy experiment was, only thing you can make you less feel
1. That experiment was very boring
2. I told the next subject it was great fun
3. I was paid $20 to tell him that
No dissonance, no distortion: it is perfectly fine, it was really board and I got 20 dollar. 20
$ worth enough to lie
Example 3: motivated reasoning bias (conscious process)
1. I would like to live a healthy life into old age
2. I smoke
3. Smoking will ruin my health and perhaps even kill me
Dissonance: they are motivated to reject=>
Distortion #1 => I just want to live a ‘fun life’
Distortion #2 => smoking one to two => average => not smoking a lot
Distortion #3 => find to a make a research wrong This is all fascinating, but..
o Definition is incomplete..
o Why is ‘psychological inconsistency’ so uncomfortable? What is it torturous?
o Two solutions proposed
1) Psychological discomfort we feel is about to threaten our self-esteem: self-esteem is crucial to
2) Physiological discomfort due to heightened arousal: All about our arousal going up; we want
to get rid of raised arousal
**In order for someone to engage in dissonance, they need two of them
Psychological discomfort (Aronson, 1969)
o Aronson: we feel psychologically uncomfortable when we see ourselves acting stupidly or
o ‘sleazily’ shame, sad=> lowers SE, we do