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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Nature of the social self.docx

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PSYC 215
John Lydon

Chapter Three The Social Self Nature of social self Who a person is in one social context is often not the same as who the person is in another social environment. (ex: with his soccer buddies, versus with a romantic partner) Notion of self is fundamentally social. As social context changes, the nature of self changes as well.  William James (1980) introduced in The Principles of Psychology: o A sense of who we are is forged in our interactions with others, shaping, in turn, how they see themselves.  Individual self: beliefs about our unique personal traits abilities, preferences, tastes, talents, and so forth. o Focus of individual self is on what sets the person apart from others  Relational self: beliefs about our identities in specific relationships o Ex: doting husband  Collective self: beliefs about our identities as members of social groups to which we belong o Ex: Irish-Canadian Relational & collective self:  capture the social sides of the self, how the person is connected to others other than beliefs about traits that characterize someone in their role in their specific relationships or group, there are beliefs about the roles, duties & obligations that each person assume in specific relationships & groups. Origins of self-knowledge  Socrates – urged fellow Athenians to examine the self to find its essential and distinctive characteristics  Buddhist thought – counsels people to transcend the material graspings of the self and its desires, illusions and frustrations  there are numerous social origins of self-knowledge as well as to construal processes from which self-knowledge may be derived, nurtured, and maintained Family and other socializing agents (grandparents, siblings, etc.) teach children what they view as socially appropriate and valued attitudes/ behaviors. direct and indirect (modeling appropriate behaviors) o Ex: parents telling their children to share  Socializing agents can help shape sense of self and influence traits, abilities and preferences by encouraging certain behavior and activities: o Ex: Jewish woman whose parents raised her up in a Jewish environment (bringing her to synagogue, taking Hebrew classes, etc.) will tend to see being Jewish is central to her sense of self and defines her.  Symbolic interactionist notion: another way to shape the self through imagining what others think of us o “Looking-glass self” (Charles H. Cookey, 1902) – refer to idea the other’s reaction to us will serve as a mirror (reflection of our image) o In other words, this is called reflected self-appraisals: self-knowledge derived from beliefs about what others think of our social selves ; the catch is how we internalize how others see us, not how they actually see us  Ex: Amy is clumsy and her perception is stemmed from how her surrounding people see her, but it is also possible that her view of herself being clumsy is what led her to perceive these reflected self- appraisals  STUDY: examine whether reflected appraisals influence self-views or vice versa, by looking at neural systems engaged when people think / report about their self-views versus self-appraisals o Increase in activity in one area of the brain when people are asked to think who they are (medial prefrontal cortex) o When asked about self-appraisal (require social perception) will engage a different part of the brain (temporal parietal junction) o Conclusion:  self-views ARE influenced by self-appraisals (what other people think of you) because they found that the neural systems involved in social perception are engaged during self-viewing task.  Adolescents rely on both self-view and self-appraisal (perception of self & perception of how people see us) much more than adults: thus adolescents’ sense of self is based on beliefs of other’s views of them Situationism and the social self Our social self shifts dramatically from one situation to another. Aspects of the self that are relevant in the social context  People express aspects of the self that are RELEVANT to the context: o Ex: someone who is rebellious and free-spirited in the forms will have a more calm demeanor in front of parents and professors  Working self-concept: subset of self-knowledge that is brought to mind in particular context o Subset that is most relevant/ appropriate for the context  Ex: Michael’s self concept has a mixture or relational self-beliefs( who he is with his girlfriend) and collective self-beliefs (who he is when he is with his friends) as well. Aspects of the self that are distinctive in the social context  In other moments, people reveal aspects of the self that are DISTINCTIVE in the social context: o In a given social situation, people will point out things that define them as distinct  Ex: children defined themselves according to how different they were to other students.  30% of children with ages out of the norm mentioned their age, whereas only 19% who were in the norm mentioned it  44% of children born outside of US mentioned it, whereas only 7% of those born in US mentioned it. o What’s most central to your identity is what makes you different. Both malleable and stable Everybody can agree that people shift between their sense of selves (individual, relational, collective) according to situations, but everybody has a core self – stable continuity of self. 1. Even if working self-concept varies, core components are always on top of the mind 2. A person’s overall pool of knowledge remains relatively stable over time, providing sense of continuity (stable part of how you see yourself); even with little bits and pieces of knowledge come up in different contexts (ex: laziness. You know yourself as a lazy person. You’re not ALWAYS lazy, like during an interview, but the thought of you being lazy will resurface when you’re procrastinating) On another note, sense of self can be malleable.  By malleable, we meant shifting from one context to another, but core component persists. o Ex: a person who is confident with her friends but insecure with her mother. This person is always confident with her friends (by malleable, we do not mean confident one day and insecure the next day) & always insecure with her mother.  THEREFORE, social self is defined by 2 truths: o It is malleable (shifting from one context to another) o And it is stable(core self that persists across contexts) Culture & social self  Different cultures influence the shaping of the self by encouraging certain emotions, motivations and perception of the world; and can influence specific construal processes and self-esteem o Western: concerned with individuality, self-expression o Asian cultures: value family and community  Independent self-construal: o encouraged in the west, north America  self is an autonomous entity that is distinct and separate from others  goal is to asset uniqueness and independence  focus: internal cause of behavior o conception of the self in terms of traits  interdependent self-construal: o encouraged in Asian, Mediterranean, African, South American cultures  self is fundamentally connected to other people  goal is for the person to find a place and fulfill appropriate roles within community  focus: influence of social context and situation on current behavior o conception in which self is embedded within social relationships, roles and duties Gender & social self  Women (US) are more likely to define themselves in interdependent terms: o Refer to social characteristics and relationships o When asked to select pictures to define who they are, they pick pictures with other people  Men (US) are more likely to define themselves in independent terms o Refer to personal characteristics o When asked to select pictures, they select pictures of themselves  In social interactions, women tend to construe the self in more interdependent terms than men: - Tend to be more attuned to situational cues - Tend to be more empathetic and better judges at other people’s personalities and emotions  Men tend to prioritize uniqueness and difference - Tend to be more attuned to their own internal responses (like increased heart rate)  Gender differences in representation of the social self come from: SOCIALIZATION is one source:  Guide men and women into different self-construal  Media portray these two roles differently  Men: position of power and agency  Parents teach children differently:  Talk with girls about emotions and being sensitive to others  Games children play are segregated  Girls play cooperative and interpersonal games, and boys emphasize competition, hierarchy HUMAN EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY may have influenced gender differences:  Men are more physically and psychologically equipped for aggressive encounters  Women are equipped physically and psychologically for nurturing the young  independent self-construal fits the roles largerly fulfilled by males in our evolutionary history  interdependent self-construal is better tailored to the caregiving demands that fell disproportionately to females  cultures have very different ways of dealing with gender; the past several generations have witnessed enormous changes in gender roles - these sorts of sex differences are not inevitable - there are sharp limits to any evolutionary account of the role of gender in the nature of the self-concept o However, evolution may have contributed a lot to these two different self- construal, but the differences are not inevitable. Social comparison  People seek our information about themselves by comparing to others Social comparison theory: (Leon Festinger 1954)  the hypothesis that people compare themselves to other people in order to obtain an accurate assessment of their own opinions, abilities & internal states o ex: someone can call themselves honest if they don’t lie to other people. If someone wants to be “rich” & “smart”, they need to be richer and smarter than others  theory suggests: in order to get a accurate sense of skill, you need to compare with people your level  People like to feel good about themselves & tend to seek comparison in people inferior to us – downward social comparisons: can make people feel favorably about themselves (boost to self-esteem) o STUDY: breast cancer patients  Strategy they use to cope  They do favorable comparisons with people who are in WORST conditions than them (to feel good) & initiate contact with those in BETTER conditions to learn from them  Sometimes people seek upward social comparison – people are inclined to do so when they aspire to be better at something or improve their personality o STUDY: group of ninth graders  Students tend to compare grades with those who are better than them with the hope to one day get those grades  different ability domains and different motives call for different comparison targets people lessen this burden by relying on routinely used standards  when people routinely compare themselves to another person, comparisons with this person become an automatic process  when people evaluate themselves, routinely used comparison targets (like best friends) automatically spring to mind Narratives about the social self According to Dan McAdam’s writings, o Another example of source of self-knowledge:  Narrated self: where we continually tell a particular story about our social self as we live our lives (include elements like settings, characters, plot twists and turns, dramatic themes, vivid images and scenes etc.: where you grew up, generous mentor, parent’s divorce, quest for justice, when your boyfriend dumped you etc.)  Also involve powerful scenes of redemption -> as self- narratives become more engaging, they enable people to be more happy and fulfilled as they age o Reason why people narrate these self,  Integrate our goals, to make sense of conflict and to explain how we change over time  Ex: Eminem’s memoir = narrated self o Self-narratives vary across societies: STUDY: D. Cohen & A. Gunz, 2002 asked Canadian and Asian students to tell stories about ten different situations  Canadians tend to reproduce the scene from their original perspectives  Asians tend to reproduce the scene from a third person perspective  Westerners experience and recall events from the inside-out: themselves at the center, looking out the world  Easterners are likely to experience from the outside-in: starting from the social world and looking back at themselves as the object of attention Summary of social self  Social self originates from: o Parents & socialization agents (by what they teach us, encourage in us, and how they react to us) o Current situation (social self shifts from one context to another) o Culture: shapes in profound ways – western cultures where men are defined more independent, and people from east Asian cultures and women in many cultures are defined more interdependent. o Comparison to others o Narratives: constructing stories about our lives Organization of self-knowledge Sacks, 1985  worked with a patient, William Thompson  suffered from Korsakoff's syndrome (destroys memory structures in the brain)  unable to remember things for more than a second or two o in each new situation, he would create false identities for the people he encountered o his own social self shifts in accordance with the new situations he creates  our social selves depend on our ability to remember, to know who we and other people are  the knowledge that makes up our social self is stored in memory following some kind of organizational scheme or structure Self-schemas  Self-knowledge is organized around cognitive structures known as: o SELF-SCHEMAS – cognitive structures derived from past experience, that represents a person’s belief and feelings about self in particular domain o Ex: conscientiousness – everyone has a self-schema that represents our beliefs/ feelings about how conscientious (or not) we are; during experiences like studying for exams. o People can vary in content & elaboration of self-schema:  Can have more or fewer instances of past conscientious behavior, & what it means to be conscientious  Self-schemas serve more function than the schemas used for people or situations. o –ORGANIZING FUNCTION – help make sense of all the information we are receptive to; along the same idea that our social knowledge helps us construe our social world Hazel Markus (1977) hypothesized that a person with a self-schema in a particular domain, they are more likely to process that information more quickly & be able to interpret the information that contradicts with the self-schema  STUDY: selected “schematic” participants (people who labeled themselves as dependent or independent ) & “aschematic” participants (people who are rated moderately dependent/independent or for whom dependence/independence is not important to self-definition)  RESULTS: o schematic people judged more quickly whether a trait is representative of themselves in comparison to aschematic people (supports idea that they are more attuned to information on self-schema) o schematic people demonstrate behavior consistent with schema-relevant traits (supports idea that experiences supporting self-schema is abundant in memory and come readily to mind  CONCLUSION: o Self-schema allow people to make inferences about themselves Self-reference effect: tendency for information related to the self to be more thoroughly processed and integrated with existing self-knowledge, thereby making it more memorable  Information integrated in preexisting knowledge structure is more readily and easily recalled  STUDY: participants presented with 40 trait adjectives o Structural (whether font is big), phonemic (if certain words rhyme), semantic (synonym or antonym), defining (whether it defines themselves)  CONCLUSION: people are more accurate in recalling trait adjectives when they had previously considered whether they applied to themselves Most people have many self-schemas, whereas some only have one or a few Question is… does it matter how many self schema a person has? Patricia Linville (1987): number of self-defining domains AND the degree of overlap between these domains MATTER Self-complexity theory Self-complexity: tendency to define the self in terms of multiple domains that are relatively distinct from one another. o When self-complexity is high: multiple domains with NO overlap (distinct) o When self-complexity is low: less domains and they relatively overlap in content  Research suggests people with high level of self-complexity will less likely be affected by negative events/difficulties since this impact will be contained in a distinct domain.  ON THE OTHER HAND, for the people who are low in self-complexity, if there is any negative impact, it will hurt more than one domain. ( considering how there is an overlap in the domains) Summary of organizational knowledge  self-knowledge is stored in memory in an organized fashion  people use self-schemas to process ^ remember information and make judgments about self & the world  self-complexity is defined as number and degree of overlap among a person’s self- schema Self-esteem Self-esteem: positive or negative overall evaluation that each person has of himself/herself – represents how we feel about our attributes & qualities, our successes & failures, our self-worth High self-esteem: people feel good about themselves Low self esteem: ambivalent (feel good and bad) People who really hate who they are found in specific populations (ex: severely depressed people) People with low self esteem are ◦ less satisfied with life ◦ more hopeless ◦ more depressed ◦ less able to cope with life's challenges◦ more prone to anti-s
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