PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: George Herbert Mead, Timothy Wilson, Joseph E. Ledoux
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1. Self-concept refers to the sum total of beliefs that people have about themselves.
2. Self- schemas: a belief people hold about themselves that guides the processing of self-
3. Elements of the Self- Concept
Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, argues that synaptic connections within the brain
provide the biological base for memory, which makes possible the sense of
continuity that is needed for a normal identity.
Todd Feinberg and Julian Keenan describe how the self can be transformed and
even completely destroyed by injuries and diseases.
Using PET scanes, and Fmri, scientists have found out that certain areas of our
brain are more active when we see pictures of ourselves; however, not all aspects
of the self is restricted to a single structure.
Not all animals perceive themselves in mirrors.
oRed dye test (chimpanzees and babies) (Gallup)
oRecent research suggests that certain intelligent non-primates can also
recognize themselves; for example dolphins, killer whales (Fabienne
Delfour and Ken Marten), and Asian elephants.
Charles Horton Cooley: the looking-glass to suggest that other people serve as a
mirror in which we see ourselves.
George Herbert Mead: we often come to know ourselves by imagining what
significant others think of us and then incorporating these perceptions into our
Susan Andersen and Serena Chen: the self is “relational” that we draw our sense
of which we are from our past and current relationships with the other significant
others in our lives.
(Gallup’s chimpanzee experiment): if the chimpanzees were raised in isolation,
they would not recognize themselves in the mirror. After the exposure to other
chimpanzees, they showed signs of self-recognition.
Our self-concepts match our perceptions of what others think of us; however the
way we think about ourselves is not necessarily the same way that people think of
Self-knowledge is derived from introspection, a looking inward at one’s own
thoughts and feelings.
However, introspection is not exactly accurate because according to Richard
Nisbett and Timothy Wilson, when people were asked to explain their behaviors,
they failed to produce an accurate response.
According to Wilson, introspection can sometimes impair self-knowledge.
Human beings keep mentally busy processing information, which is why we often
fail to understand our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Affective forecasting: the process of predicting how one would feel in response to
future emotional events.
Impact bias: people overestimate the strength and duration of their emotional
oOne of the reasons is that people do not fully appreciate the extent to
which our psychological coping mechanisms help us cushion the blow.
oThe second reason for these overestimates is that when we introspect
about the emotional impact on us of a future event is because we become
so focused on that single even that we neglect to take into account the
effects of other life experiences.
5. Perceptions of Our Own Behavior
Self-Perception Theory (Bem): the theory that when internal cues are difficult to
interpret, people gain self-insight by observing their own behavior.
According to Bem, people do not infer their own internal states from behavior that
occurred in presence of compelling situational pressures such as reward or
oWhen people are coaxed into doing something, and when they are not
certain about how they feel, they come to view themselves in ways that are
consistent with behavior.
oBem argued that people sometimes learn about themselves by observing
their own freely chosen behavior. It is even possible to infer something
about yourself when you observe somebody that you identify with
(University students and helping out experiment)
Self-Perceptions of Emotion:
oThe facial feedback hypothesis: the hypothesis that changes in facial
expression can lead to corresponding changes in emotion.
oJames Laird (Experiment: People with a smile thought that the cartoons
where funnier than the ones that didn’t)
oFacial feedback can evoke and magnify certain emotional states but they
are not necessary for experiencing emotions. (Ex: woman with bilateral
paralysis could still experience emotion)
oLaird argues that facial expressions affect emotion through a process of
self-perception. (Kleinke: people were asked to emulate the facial
expressions in the pictures, the ones that saw themselves in the mirror, the
smiling ones felt happier and the angry ones felt angrier)
oYour posture can also affect your emotions. (Experiment: Stepper/ Strack,
the people that were erected expressed more pride after the completion of
the task than those that were slumped)
Self-Perception of Motivation:
oIntrinsic motivation: originates in factors within a person. People are said
to be intrinsically motivated when they engage in an activity for the sake
of their own interest.
oExtrinsic motivation originates in factors outside the person.
oOver justification effect: the tendency for intrinsic motivation to diminish
for activities that have become associated with reward or other extrinsic
oThe way that the reward is presented influences heavily whether the
intrinsic motivation will be diminished. If a reward is presented in the
form of verbal praise that is perceived to be sincere, or as a special bonus
for superior performance, then it can actually enhance intrinsic motivation.
6. Influence of Other People
Leon Festinger: Social Comparison Theory: the theory states that people evaluate
their own abilities and opinions by comparing themselves to others.
People tend to compare themselves to others when they are uncertain in where
People generally compare themselves with people that are similar to them.
Two- Factor Theory of Emotion:
oSchachter: People that were administered with powerful electric shocks
wanted to be with people that were administered with the same level of
shocks whereas the ones that were administered with milder ones wanted
to be alone. (Miserable people love miserable company)
oThe two-factor theory: the theory that the experience of emotion is based
on two factors: physiological arousal and a cognitive interpretation of that
arousal. (Experiments: male participants injected with epinephrine. The
informed group were less influenced by social cues whereas the
uninformed one was)
oWhen people are unclear about how they feel, they tend to see how other
7. Autobiographical Memories
Self-perception is heavily dependent on memories
People tend to remember things from their recent pasts clearly.
Exceptions to the recency rule: older adults tend to retrieve more memories from
their adolescence and early adult years and people tend to remember their
Flashbulb memories (Roger Brown and James Kulik: enduring, detailed, high-
Memory tend to be biased rather than objective
8. Culture and Self- Concept:
Individualism: the virtues of independence, autonomy and self-reliance (Western
nations) Independent (North Americans and Europeans)
Collectivism: the virtues of interdependence, cooperation, and social harmony
(eastern cultures) Interdependent (Asian, Latin American, and African)