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Chapter 2

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PSYC 333
Jennifer Bartz

PSYC333 Chapter 2 Notes SELF & IDENTITY: AN INTRODUCTION: • Social psychology and the self - keeps inventing approaches to study the self; this chapter will offer a loose survey of social psych’s contribution to the study of the self • There really is no coherent psychology of self; loose diversity probably why the study of self is so frequently reinvented, and also increases room for subjective bias as to what to include per researcher • Self-schema structure, self-presentatoin 10 years ago; nowadays it’s self-deception and self-regulation Definitions: • Self - difficult to define; self-concept (cognitive structure) vs physical self (the body) • Full understanding of nature of self must include: • 1) Body • 2) Includes social identity (interpersonal roles and traits, potentiality, values & priorities Baumeister 1986) • 3) Self is the active agent involved in decision making • The multiplicity of such aspects can lead to self as being interpreted as multiple selves, but it is important to realize they all refer to a single self; unity & continuity (despite possible change)are thus essential to the definition of self • Markus & Nurius 1986 - one person can conceptualize him or herself in may possible future roles and circumstances; and that people are guided and influenced by such conceptions • Ogilvie 1987 - “undesired self” forms a powerful source of motivation for people to avoid turning themselves into; happiness in life may depend more on avoiding the undesired self than achieving the ideal self; distance between real vs undesired self had stronger correlation with life satisfaction • Higgins 1987 - people have various “self-guides” - ideal and ought self conceptions according to their own or others’ expectations. Emotions arise from comparing one’s actual self to such guides - • e.g. ought-self discrepancy = unpleasant, high-arousal: guilt, anxiety, anger • e.g. ideal-self discrepancy = unpleasant, low-arousal: sadness, depression, disappointment • Wicklund & Gollwitzer 1982 - self-completion - notion that people are motivated to reach their ideals is a common proposition; social psychologists Wicklund and Gollwitzer contributed the most extensive empirical work. • Incomplete - i.e. subjects made to believe they are not reaching their ideals will engage in symbolic activities that will support their claim to the desired identity in an attempt to complete themselves; e.g. aspiring guitarist has a discouraging experience; he is more likely than others to say he would want to be a guitar teacher Functions of Selfhood: • Useful to keep in mind the functions the self serves • 1) Self is an interpersonal tool; prerequisite for human social life; sustaining a relationship requires understanding of stable identities for the people involved; people shape themselves to maintain relationships; strongly concerned with how they are perceived in order to successfully maintain the relationship 2) Serves to make choices - well-defined self helps to make decisions in an organized, consistent way; self as a • collection of values, preferences and priorities 3) Self-regulation - effort required in maintaining body & functions, interpersonal relationships, etc; information relevant • to these tasks must follow a consistent pattern such that one may use this information as a reference point for how they should act in novel situations to maintain attractive in their relationships • Self is a vitally important entity for storing and organizing of information; the cognitive structure of self-knowledge itself is enough to create a separate field of study; • Self-reference effect (Rogers et al 1977, Markus 1977) - role of self in information processing is well-documented; information relevant to self will be processed more thoroughly and better remembered than otherwise similar information • Rogers et al 1977 - subjects asked to make one of several judgments about a stimulus word; if asked to judge whether the word described them, they remembered it better; Culture, History, and the Self: • Self will have a different nature as a function of the social context in which it evolves (culture & society); • How culture shapes self is beginning to be understood: • Triandis 1989- developed several key concepts • Distinguished between public (how one is perceived by other people; reputation, impressions), private (how one understands oneself; introspection, private decision making, self-esteem, self-perception), collective (one’s memberships in social groups; ethnic identity and family ties) aspects of self • Cultures vary in the emphasis they place on public, private, collective aspects of self - Collectivist - cultures emphasize group conformity, the public and collective self at the expense of private • self, “Tight” societies emphasize collective self, strong demands people conform to in-group norms, e.g. Japan • • individualist cultures emphasize diversity and self-expression, the private self Complex cultures spawn people that belong to many different groups but less loyal to any single group, so • the all-relevant public self is more important than collective, and there is still room to work on private selves; BUT complex cultures foster identity problems and confusion • Katakis 1976 - 1984 - complex cultures fostering identity problems & confusion - children growing up in fishing villages said they would be fishermen, where children in large cities responded “I will find myself” • Triandis 1989 - US vs Japan - illustration of focus on collective culture vs private culture - cultures; public self in both; Japan emphasizes collective whereas US values private more; e.g. daughter dating a man of a different race, privately not allow, but outwardly support? 50% American subjects believed that was the worst response; 44% Japanese subjects said it was the best response • Markus and Kitayama 1991 - Eastern interdependence vs. Western independence Social psychology dominated by Western view of self; researchers must understand the impact of self is different • in cultures for whom the self is interpersonal History - Self over time - increasing importance/complexity/expectations of self throughout the ages • • 1) Identity part of self increasingly elaborate over past centuries 2) Self is more frequently a source of problem/conflict/uncertainty (e.g. identity crisis) • • Why? - Modern selves have more choice and thus more instability and change e.g. nowadays, social class can be chosen based on one’s choices; in ancient times, one’s worth was a direct consequence of one’s social class and thus was a fixed quantity Expansion of the conception of an inner self - important change in selfhood conception. Shakespeare’s time • marked the beginning of the consideration of an inner self divergent from surface/overt behavior Modern self conceptions are based on the dichotomy of having an inner and outer self, but is ultimately a • metaphor constructed and shaped by our culture. Author believes the most important problem of meaning in modern life is the difficulty in determining firm, • consistent values for which to justify one’s actions, prompting society to experiment with a slew of new values (e.g. work ethic, family, motherhood) and the individual self’s entitlements - it is considered a right and duty to understand oneself, thus reducing importance in their obligations toward others. People rely increasingly on the self to give meaning and value to life, and thus its importance has been and is still • steadily increasing. SELF-KNOWLEDGE Conceptions of Self: • Self-concept - total organized body of information one has about him or herself made up of many individual self-schemas (beliefs); • Social psychologists no longer describe self as a single, articulated self-concept, nowadays, they view it as a loose network of self-schemas • Not 100% organized, can hold inconsistencies that only cause problems once discoverd Phenomenal self/spontaneous self-concept, working self-concept - the small part of self-concept present in awareness • at any one time Why? to prevent inconsistencies in self from being discovered; parts of self may be internally consistent without being • consistent with each other and may never need to be compared and thus can coexist without a problem Self-concept not predetermined, not a ‘true inner self,’ as traits are only crude generalizations • • Only viable approach to a consistent inner self is growth of patterns of thought, feeling and action independent of external pressure • Self-appraisals - other people’s reflected appraisals highly affect our self-concept Symbolic interactionists - you are whatever other people tell you you are; one of the most influential theories in social • sciences, BUT really, people’s self-conceptions agree only very slightly with how others perceive them, instead • • Peoples’ self appraisals are strongly correlated with their own perceptions of how others appraised them; problem is inconsistency between feedback from others and what those others actually believe • A’s self-concept may not agree with B’s assessment of her, but is similar with what A perceives B to think of her i.e. information is heavily filtered and biased by individual before they can incorporate it into their self-concept • Accuracy of Self-Knowledge: People believe they have accurate self-knowledge due to mistaken beliefs: • • Privileged access - notion that people can know things about their inner states that others can only gain indirect knowledge about; • Memory - they think know their memory the best BUT people process information in a biased manner and unconsciously distort self information to reflect their • motivations Self-deception - • • Nibett: People are conscious of feelings, but cannot understand how they arose and thus make up reasons; i.e. genuine introspection is not useful • e.g. preference among nylon stockings showed strong serial position effect, but people’s explanations did not mention serial position • Different views: people don’t make up reasons on purpose; introspection is only deceptively useful due to peoples’ unawareness of their lack of self-knowledge • Introspection may even be harmful e.g. in dating couples that did not analyze their relationship, initial relationship satisfaction correlated strongly to • whether they were still together at the follow up study. In dating couples that analyzed their relationship, there was no correlation! • introspection focused attention on accessible, but not necessarily relevant aspects that then assume disproportionate weight; threw people off track • Greenwald: Self distorts and reinterprets events in biased light in order to be consistent with favourable self beliefs => self-deception • Junk mail mechanism for self-deception - resolves fallacy of how the same person must knowingly deceive and unwittingly be duped; you can’t prevent knowing you received an unpleasant self-knowledge, but you can turn attention away to minimize mental exertion Subjects spent less time reading and recalled less of unfavorable feedback than positive feedback; people • tune out and forget unfavourable appraisals from others Positive illusions: how people self-deceive; majority of normal people exhibit all three, lack of them is correlated with • depression 1) Overestimate good qualities • • 2) Overestimate how much control they have 3) More optimistic than warranted • • Dangers of overconfidence - high-self esteem correlated with people more likely to ride motorcycle with no helmet, more prone to overcommit themselves • Refinement to the theory: People can turn their illusions on and off as needed; high esteem beneficial in a performance, lower esteem beneficial to make a safe decision • People know lots of self information, but it is distorted Identity Crisis: • Identity crisis - difficulties of defining the self, gives insight into how self-knowledge is structured and its practical limitations Marcia’s classifications • • ID achieved - experienced ID crisis, has formed a committed ID - mature Moratorium - experienced ID crisis, but not yet formed a commID - ID crisis stil in progress - unstable emotions • • Foreclosed ID - formed a committed ID without having had an ID crisis - individual has simply accepted a predetermined ID - rigid, shallow • ID diffusion - neither - confused, unhappy, perpetually immature don’t know don’t care attitude Types of ID crisis • • 1) ID deficit - linked to male adolescence and midlife transition; not enough self to decide important things; exciting and full of rollercoaster emotions; resolve by expanding self concept to encompass new values and commitments • 2) ID conflict - when multiple selves conflict; results in confusion, passivity, guilt, can happen anytime, either gender; resolve by sacrificing conflicting part of self, i.e. self contraction • Some inconsistencies within the self only manifest as problems in specific situations and thus can first coexist in the self without a problem for the most part; problem of consistency is not located inside the self but rather at the interface between the person and the social environment Identity crisis is no longer a thriving area of research • • Why? - researchers discouraged, it may already have plateaued, or maybe the baby boomers are no longer adolescents and identity crisis is less relevant in the society Self-Concept Change: Self-concepts do change • • Theorem of escape 1953 - once any part of the self-system is formed, it tends to remain stable. Self-concepts change in childhood, but progressively crystallize with age; old view • Internalization - important mechanism for changing self-concepts - acting in a certain way can lead to thinking of oneself in that way • Subjects induced to self-present favorably or unfavorably; subsequent self-ratings reflected views, especially when people voluntarily expressed willingness to perform task • Biased scanning - self-concept change occurs via this mechanism; situational forces cause people to scan personal memories in a biased way, looking for information that supports a certain view of self • Loaded question experiments - subjects primed with extraverted or introverted questions, and subjects acted correspondingly in waiting room • Both interpersonal and intrapsychic factors a
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