ch. 5 - the self

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18 Dec 2010
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Chapter 5
The nature of self
William james (one of the founders of psychology), described the basic duality of our perception
of self
oFirst, the self is composed of ones thoughts and beliefs about oneself or what James
called the known” or simply me”
oSecond, the self is also the active processor of information, the knower or the i
oIn modern terms, we refer to the known” as the self concept
oSelf concept: the contents of the self; that is, our knowledge of who we are
oThe knower is the self awareness
oself awareness: the act of thinking about ourselves
othese two aspects of the self combine to create a coherent sense of identity
people`s self concept change as they grow up and this was tested by asking people ``who am I``
oa child will answer this by giving observable characteristics such as age, sex,
neighbourhood, and hobbies
ex. a 9 year old answered this question by saying i have brown eyes, i have
brown hair, I’m a boy, etc”
as we mature, we place less emphasis on physical characteristics and more
emphasis on our psychological states (eg. Our thoughts and feelings)-ex. define
ourself as extroverts, being on only child, a spiritual person, etc
self-concept clarity is defined as the extent to which knowledge about the self is stable, and
clearly and consistently defined
people who are low in self-concept clarity are more likely to be neurotic and have low self-esteem
and are less likely to be aware of their internal state
people who are low in self-concept clarity are less likely to engage in positive forms of self-focus
like reflection
oeg. i love exploring my inner self
therefore, not having a clear, confident sense of who you are can have negative effects on your
thought and emotions
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Functions of the self
researchers have found that the self serves both an organizational function and an executive
function
Organizational function of the self
self schemas: mental structures that people use to organize their knowledge about themselves and
that influence what they notice, think about, and remember about themselves
oex. sara and jenny play volleyball together and watch an old movie. The way they think
about certain things will depend on their slef-schemas
osara plays a lot of sports and athleticism is an important part of her self-schema. Thus,
shes likely to remember the volleyball game more than the movie
ojenny is in a lot of plays and will think about and remember the movie more than the
volleyball game
self schemas also act as lenses through which people view others
oex. if sara and jenny meet sam who is a talental actor and athlete
osara is more likely to notice and remember his athletic skills whereas jenny is more likely
to notice and remember his acting talents
self reference effect: the tendency for people to remember information better if they relate it to
themselves
integrating information with our self-schemas helps us organize it better and connect it to other
information about ourselves, which makes us more likely to remember it later
When people are motivated to see themselves as having a good quality or trait, they conduct a
memory search for examples of past behaviours that goes along with that trait. The evidence then
allows them to come to a conclusion that the good trait is a part of their self-schemas
Self-regulation: the executive function
The self also serves an executive function, regulating peoples behaviour, choices and plans or the
future
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We’re the only species that can imagine events that havent occurred yet and engage in long-term
planning
According to the Self regulatory resource model, self-control is a limited resource so people have
a limited amount of energy for self-control and spending it on one task limits the amount that can
be spend on another task
oEx. in a study, when participants do self-control on one task and then this reduces their
ability to have control on a subsequent, unrelated task
So these findings explain why we fail at self-control when we are under stress
oEx. dealing with stress reduces the self resource: such that theres less to spend in other
areas
oEfforts at self-control are more likely to fail at night, when the self resource has been
depleted by a day of making choices and resisting temptations
Ex. dieters are more likely to break their diets at night
People are best at self-control when they are well rested and not too stressed out
Cultural differences in defining the self
Independent view of self: defining oneself in terms of ones own internal thoughts, feelings, and
actions, and not in terms of the thoughts, feelings and actions of other people
Westerners learn to define themselves as quite separate from other people and to value
independence and uniqueness
Interdependent view of the self: defining oneself in terms of ones relationships to other people;
recognizing that ones behaviour is often determined by the thought, feelings, and actions of
others
Asian cultures are more likely to see themselves in terms of communal qualities like being kind,
accepting, and loyal, whereas Canadians are more likely to see themselves in terms of individual
characteristics such as having an exciting personality and being attractive
Within cultures there are differences in the self-concept, and these differences are likely to
increase as contract between cultures increases
Self-awareness theory
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