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Chapter 17

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McMaster University
Judith Shedden

Psych 2B03: Theories of Personality Chapter 17: What You Know About You – The Self The Self Across Cultures - Is the self a cultural artefact:  Researchers asked American and Hindu Indian informants to describe people they knew  Americans use personality traits while Indians used complex and conceptualized phrases  Americans and Hindu Indians think of people in different ways, and this includes how they think about themselves  20% of Indians description of people were personality-trait terms which shows that the idea of individual traits is not foreign to them  members of different cultures do vary in their ways of describing people - Individualist and collectivist selves:  Study how the nature of the self and its implications differ across cultures  Assumes that the Western self is a relatively separate entity while the Eastern self is more integrated into the social and cultural context  Self-regard:  The individualist’s need for positive self-regard may be felt less acutely by a member of a collectivist culture  Consistency:  The individualist view of the self assumes that the cause of behaviour lies within the person  Behaviours and experiences of members of collectivist cultures are less consistent from one situation to the next  Consistency can be conceptualized and analyzed in two ways: one way focuses on the degree to which an individual varies his behaviour or experience from one situation to the next (absolute consistency), the other focuses on the degree to which an individual maintains his differences from other people across situations (relative consistency) The Contents of the Self - Our me includes everything we hold dear, and so includes not just our personality traits, but also our body, home, possessions, and even family members - Declarative knowledge: about the self consists of the facts and impressions that we consciously know and can describe - Procedural knowledge: knowledge expressed through actions rather than words. Procedural self-knowledge includes patterns of social skills, styles of relating to others that comprise the relational self, and the unconscious self- knowledge that resides in the implicit self The Declarative Self - Comprises of all your conscious knowledge or opinions about your own personality traits - Self-esteem:  Low self-esteem is correlated with outcomes such as dissatisfaction with life, hopelessness, and depression  Interest in maintaining high self esteem may have evolutionary roots  It is not good for self-esteem to get too high  People who self enhance run into problems in relations with others, mental health, and adjustment  Overly high self-esteem can lead to behaviour that is arrogant, abusive, and even criminal  Unstable self-esteem may be worse than low self-esteem  The most important aspect of your opinion of yourself is the degree to which it is accurate - The self-schema:  Declarative self lies in cognitive structure called the self-schema, which includes all of one’s ideas about the self, organized into a coherent system  The self-schema can be identified using S data, B data, or both  Phenomena studied by cognitively oriented personality psychologist may not be as different as is sometimes presumed  One’s self –view may have important consequences for how one processes information  The self-schema embodies knowledge based on past experience, but not on any particular past experience  Once formed, your impression of what you are like does not depend on your memory for specific things you have done, and these two bases of self-knowledge may exist independently in separate sectors of the brain - Self-reference and memory:  The best way to get information into LTM is not just to repeat it, but to really think about it, a process called elaboration.  A particularly good way to remember something is to think about some specific way that it relates to one’s self  The mental structure of self-knowledge, the self-schema, is rich, well developed, and often used  Self-reference effect: the enhancement of LTM that comes from thinking of how information related to the self. A particular area in the frontal cortex might be specialized to process this kind of information  Self-reference effect explains why your most personally meaningful memories stick with you the longest  Reason to believe that the self-reference effect might also work differently in different cultures - Self-efficacy:  Because the self-schema contains our ideas about our characteristics and capabilities, it affects what we do  Dweck: beliefs that one develops about oneself form the basic foundations of personality - Possible selves:  The images we have, or can construct, of the other possible ways we might be  Most work on possible selves has focused on our images of the people we wish we were - Self-discrepancy theory:  You have not one but two kinds of desired selves, and the interactions between them and your actual self determines how you feel about life  Ideal self: your view of what you could be at your best  Ought self: your view of what you should be  To the extent that you fail to attain your ideal self, you become depressed  To the extent that you fail to attain your ought self, you become anxious  Two nonfactual selves represent different foci to life  Ideal self is reward based and resembles the Go system  Ought self’s focus is punishment based - Accurate self-knowledge:  Self-knowledge might be right or wrong  Self-knowledge has been considered a hallmark of mental health: people who are healthy, secure, and wise enough to see the world as it is, without the need to distort anything, will tend to see themselves more accurately too. A person with accurate self-knowledge is in a better position to make good decisions on important issues ranging from what occupation to purse, to whom to marry  Process of gaining accurate self-knowledge is outlined by the realistic accuracy model: person must do something relevant to the trait being judged, the information must be available to the judge, the judge must detect this information and utilize the information correctly  Self-knowledge versus knowledge of others:  We have better insight into our personal emotional experience  Acquaintance’s judgments more accurately predicted behaviour than did the se
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