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PSYC 332 (129)
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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 332
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Richard Koestner

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Chapter 8 19/01/11 10:10 PM Self and other: Social- Cognitive Aspects of Personality • Like computers, we take in, process, store, and retrieve information from the environment. • Information comes to us through our sense organs, but like any good computer we do not simply receive that input in a passive manner. We work on it. We perform operations on the information, • manipulating it and using it according to the complex software of the human mind. • The ultimate output of this activity is human behavior. Human beings process information in order to act. Our perceptions, impressions, inferences, judgments, and memories eventually influence what we do. • Psychology begin with the assumption that human beings are complex information-processing systems that operate in social environments. • Social-cognitive approaches to personality focus on how people make and use mental representations of themselves, of others, and of their social worlds and how those representations are implicated in social behavior. • Put simply, cognition influences social behavior, and social behavior influences cognition. • People differ from one another with respect to the kinds of self- representations and social construals they characteristically formulate and act upon. o Consequently, an essential domain of psychological individuality is the social-cognitive representations that people create. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONAL CONSTRUCTS George Kelly’s theory • Kelly’s radical dismissal of the concept of motivation is really only partial for his theory implies a fundamental principle of motivation itself o A person is motivated to predict or anticipate what will happen to him or her. What moves people to act is their desire to know what the world has in store for them. Fundamentally, the person is like a scientist, seeking to predict and control events. • According to Kelly, each of us classifies his or her world by developing personal constructs, which are characteristic ways of construing how some things are alike and some things are different from one another. • Every construct is bipolar specifying how two things are similar to each other and different from a third thing. • People are best understood in terms of their own construct systems. Each person develops his or her own construct system that contains a number of constructs organized into a hierarchy • This means that within any construct system certain constructs are superordinal (encompassing many other constructs) and others are subordinal (being encompassed by larger constructs). TABLE 8 . 1 KELLY’S FUNDAMENTAL POSTULATE AND ELEVEN COROLLARIES -Fundamental Postulate: A person’s processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he or she anticipates events. Construction Corollary: A person anticipates events by construing their replications. -Individuality Corollary: Persons differ from one another in their construction of events. -Organization Corollary: Each person characteristically evolves, for his or her convenience in anticipating events, a construction system embracing ordinal relationships between constructs. -Dichotomy Corollary: A person’s construction system is composed of a finite number of dichotomous constructs. -Choice Corollary: A person chooses for him- or herself that alternative in a dichotomized construct through which he or she anticipates the greater possibility for extension and definition of his or her system. -Range Corollary: A construct is convenient for the anticipation of a finite range of events only. -Experience Corollary: A person’s construction system varies as he or she successively construes the replications of events. -Modulation Corollary: The variation in a person’s construction system is limited by the permeability of the constructs within whose range of convenience the variants lie. -Fragmentation Corollary: A person may successively employ a variety of construction subsystems that are inferentially incompatible with each other. -Communality Corollary: To the extent that one person employs a construction of experience that is similar to that employed by another, his or her psychological processes are similar to those of the other person. -Sociality Corollary: To the extent that one person construes the construction process of another, he or she plays a role in a social process involving the other person. • Within a given person’s construct system, particular constructs differ from one another with respect to their range of convenience (‘‘range corollary’’). • Some constructs are highly permeable whereas others are not (‘‘modulation corollary’’). A permeable construct is open to modification and the introduction of new elements. A person with an especially permeable construct system is likely to be seen by others as very open-minded. • By contrast, a person who is unable to modify his or her constructs in light of new information and expanding experiences is likely to be viewed by others as relatively rigid and inflexible. • Complete permeability, however, is not altogether good. • When a person’s constructs are mutually incompatible and contradictory (‘‘fragmented’’), then he or she is likely to have a difficult time making consistent sense of the world and anticipating events in an adaptive way (‘‘fragmentation corollary’’). • In Kelly’s cognitive view, ‘‘the unconscious’’ is merely those constructs that are nonverbal, submerged, or suspended. • For certain constructs, we are unable to assign a verbal name; thus, we may not be aware of them. • Other constructs are submerged beneath other constructs or suspended from the construct system because they do not seem to fit. • Kelly views ‘‘anxiety’’ as ‘‘the recognition that the events with which one is confronted lie outside the range of convenience of one’s construct system’’. o In other words, when we confront inexplicable events in the world for which our construct system does not seem to be prepared, we experience anxiety. o Ultimately, then, anxiety is a fear of the unknown • ‘‘Guilt’’ is a ‘‘perception of one’s apparent dislodgment from his core role structure’’. • ‘‘Core role structure’’ is the construction a person has of who he or she is in relation to significant people, such as parents. It is embedded within the person’s general construct system. Exploring personal constructs: the REP test • One of the best ways to get a feel for Kelly’s approach is to participate in the Role Construct Repertory Test (Rep Test), a personality assessment procedure designed by Kelly to explore personal constructs in people’s lives. o One version of the Rep Test asks you to make a series of comparisons among those people who play important roles in your life. Kelly defined a role as an understanding or expectation of what particular people in a person’s life do. • One line of research examined individual differences in cognitive complexity as revealed by the Rep Test. o People who use many different kinds of constructs are said to manifest higher levels of cognitive complexity. They tend to view the world in a highly differentiated manner. o People who use few different kinds of constructs are viewed as having a simpler, more global construct system. • Another line of research examined construct similarity among friends and acquaintances o In general, students who have similar construct systems tend to become close friends and to remain friends for longer periods of time. • In another study, similarity of constructs was a more significant predictor of friendship formation than was similarity on self-report measures of traits. o In other words, friends may be drawn together not so much by a perception that they behave in the same kinds of ways but rather by the perception that they see the world in the same way. • For personality psychology, Kelly presented an innovative and refreshingly sensible perspective for understanding the whole person. o By imagining people as everyday scientists and focusing on how we seek to categorize, predict, and control our social worlds, Kelly signaled the importance of social-cognitive adaptations in human personality and the role of mental representations of self and others in everyday behavior. COGNITIVE STYLES AND PERSONALITY • Cognitive styles are people’s ‘‘characteristic and typically preferred modes of processing information’’. • Cognitive styles are not the same thing as cognitive abilities. • While cognitive abilities assess how well a person performs on cognitive tasks, cognitive styles tap instead into a person’s characteristic way or manner of processing information. • Cognitive style is partly captured in the Big Five trait taxonomy, via the trait cluster of Openness to Experience o People high in O tend to process information in a more nuanced, differentiated, and abstract manner, research suggests, while those low in O see fewer distinctions and adhere to concrete and clearly defined categories. • Two dimensions of cognitive style that have received a great deal of attention from personality psychologists. o (1) field independence –dependence. o (2) integrative complexity. Field independence-dependence • Field-dependent style ppl’s perception and judgment of perpendicularity depend on the ‘‘field,’’ or environment. • The people who bypass the field and make their perception and judgment according to inner cues show a field-independent style. • Field independence – dependence ia a broad and pervasive cognitive style that underlies many important personality differences The dimension has two poles. o At one extreme, highly field-independent people process information in an especially analytical and differentiated style. o At the other extreme, highly field-dependent people employ external frames of reference available in the field. They tend to base their perceptions on the external context within which they occur. o Most people fall somewhere in the middle of the field independence –dependence continuum. • Field-independent people are adept at pulling information out of an embedding context. • In general, field independence is associated with greater levels of perceptual and cognitive restructuring. • Field-independent people tend to reshape information from the environment according to internalized plans, rules, and goals to a greater extent than do people who are field dependent. • They tend to view information in the nonsocial world in a highly differentiated manner. • Field-independence predicts the ability to block out irrelevant information and focus attention on central tasks and stimuli in complex learning situations • The field-independent person approaches the world as a hypothesis-tester, systematically differentiating causes and effects and analyzing the world in terms of its separate parts. • Field-dependent people are more global and intuitive in processing information about the world. They tend to engage in less cognitive restructuring, accepting information from the environment in its own contextual terms. • Cognitive style appears to have significant influences on interpersonal functioning. • The field-dependent person is more sensitive to social context than the field-independent person. • Field-dependent people pay closer attention to interpersonal cues and social information. • In general, women score toward the field-dependent end of the continuum, whereas men score toward the field-independent end. Integrative complexity • Integrative complexity is the extent to which a person reasons about issues in a differentiated and integrative manner o People high in integrative complexity make many conceptual distinctions and see many interconnections when interpreting and making sense of intellectual and social issues. o People low in integrative complexity, by contrast, see fewer distinctions and tend to reason about the world in a holistic manner. • Freedom and equality are the two fundamental values upon which Western political rhetoric is often evaluated. o Conservatives tend to value freedom over equality. o Extreme liberals (socialists, communists) value equality over freedom. o Moderate liberals, however, value both. • Porter and Suedfeld (1981) correlated integrative complexity scores with various historical events and personal changes in novelists’ lives. o They found that integrative complexity scores decreased during times of war but increased during periods of civil unrest. o War appeared to exert a simplifying effect on literary correspondence. o By contrast, civil unrest (such as major political changes) appeared to evoke a more flexible and integrative outlook. • With respect to personal changes, Porter and Suedfeld (1981) found that integrative complexity decreased during times of illness, was unrelated to other stressful events, increased with age, and decreased shortly before death. • In general, research suggests that high levels of integrative complexity are associated with making more informed and well- balanced decisions, with open-mindedness and tolerance for ambiguity in confronting complex issues, and with cognitive self- direction. o High scorers sometimes find it difficult to make a clear-cut decision based on firm moral principles. • In some situations there would appear to be an interpersonal downside for high integrative complexity. SOCIAL COGNITIVE THOERY AND THE PERSON • Contemporary social-cognitive approaches in personality psychology view the person as a more-or- less rational and planful knower who actively seeks information in the social world and draws upon a rich storehouse of social knowledge in order to regulate his or her own behavior and enact plans and goals in a wide range of social environments • Social-cognitive theories also underscore themes that are at the heart of some humanistic approaches to personality, including especially Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory. Social intelligence • Nancy Cantor and John Kihlstrom argue that the key to understanding personality coherence is social intelligence o Each person brings a set of skills, abilities, and knowledge to every social situation. • People differ in social intelligence. • Some people appear to have more than others. • People use their social intelligence in different ways to interpret and solve current tasks and problems in life. • In Cantor and Kihlstrom’s view, social interaction involves problem solving. The social world confronts each of us with a series of mundane and momentous problems that call for socially intelligent behavior. • Social intelligence consists of three different kinds of organized knowledge: o Concepts  Concepts and episodes may be grouped together as aspects of declarative knowledge.  Concepts are the abstract and categorical things contained in the storehouse, such as concepts of who you are and what you typically expect to happen in social life. Concepts are aspects of what Cantor and Kihlstrom call declarative-semantic knowledge. o Episodes  Episodes are more concrete and particular kinds of things contained in the storehouse, such as memories of particular scenes in your life.  These make up declarative-episodic knowledge. The distinction between the two forms of declarative knowledge —concepts (declarative-semantic knowledge) and episodes (declarative-episodic knowledge) —is a fundamental distinction in cognitive psychology o Rules  Rules are aspects of what Cantor and Kihlstrom identify as procedural knowledge.  Whereas concepts and episodes are like things contained in the mind’s storehouse, rules are not things but rather procedures or processes that determine how things are used. • Among the most important concepts that make up declarative- semantic knowledge are your concepts of self, others, and social interaction. • Concepts of self are perhaps the most salient co
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