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Chapter 17

Chapter 17 The Self Summary

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Richard B Day

CHAPTER 17: What you Know about You: The Self William James (1890): I and me; the me is a sort of object, which can be observed and described -the I is the ‘mysterious entity’ that does the observing and describing -describe yourself ‘I am friendly’me -how you feel deep down about knowing you are friendlyI (homunculus, soul, etc), experiences your life, makes decisions, etc The Self across Cultures -individualistic cultures assume that the self has an independent and separate existence -collectivistic cultures view it as embedded in a larger social context of obligations and relationships -one perspective: the self is a Western cultural artefact that has no meaning in other cultures -second, less extreme approach addresses the way the self and its implications differ across cultural contexts Is the Self a Cultural Artefact? -one study: Indians use examples to describe someone (she brings cake on peoples’ birthdays), Americans use traits (friendly) -50% of terms used by Americans were personality traits, only 20% of the terms Indians used -researchers argued Americans and Hindu Indians think of people in fundamentally different ways, western sense of self is not shared by members of other cultures -if they’re right, a whole bunch of things need to be re-examined and tossed: personality psychology assumes individuals have properties (traits, learning patterns, mental structures, etc) that characterize them -if they don’t, issue! We need to throw out a ton of stuff...but examine argument first -from that study: it is a ‘rash’ assumption that since the Indians described people differently most of the time, their sense of self is extremely different -some Indians used trait terms, and the flowery language otherwise used could be saying the same thing -Americans can use flowery descriptions for people too -the difference is substantial though: western culture has many more words for traits -doesn’t mean Eastern cultures don’t have sense of self though Individualist and Collectivist Selves -rather than rejecting the idea of the self, psychologists have booked at the nature of self and its implications across different cultures -basically, this research assumes that the western self is a relatively separate entity while the Easter self is more integrated into the social and cultural context -many implications: for example, the possibility that self-expression, as understood in Western culture, is more limited in Eastern culture Self-Regard -the individualist’s need for positive self-regard may be felt less acutely by a member of a collectivist culture -Japanese may not have the pervasive need to think well of themselves that is characteristic of North Americans; they identify with the well-being of the larger group -Canadian students who heard they failed a creativity test thought of other things they were good at, Japanese didn’t; Japanese worked harder when they learned they failed an experimental task Consistency -concept of self-determination -individualist assumes cause of behaviour is inside person, they should act consistently -collectivist: expected to change behaviour more as a function of the particular immediate situation, less pressure to act consistently -research suggests that the behaviour and experiences of members of collectivist cultures are less consistent from one situation to the next (Koreans describe themselves, and are described by observers, less consistent than Americans) -emotional experience also seems to vary across situations more for Japanese persons than for Americans -consistency can be thought of in two different ways: absolute consistency (the degree to which an individual varies his behaviour from one situation to the next) and the relative consistency (the degree to which an individual maintains his differences from other people across situations -Japanese has more inconsistent emotional experience in an absolute sense (varied between situations), but they had equally consistent in a relative sense -suggests individual differences and personality traits are important in both, while absolute varies The Contents of the Self -James believed that the me included everything important in our lives: personality traits, home, family, possessions, etc. -if you punch someone’s child, as bad as punching them -central aspect of self though is our psychological self: abilities and personalities -how you see yourself determines how you act, organizes memories of yourself, and judgements of other people Two types of self-knowledge: Declarative Self-knowledge: facts and impressions we consciously know and describe e.g. friendliness Procedural knowledge: knowledge expressed through actions rather than words e.g. a shy person might avoid social interaction whenever possible; such a deeply ingrained habit that he doesn’t recognize how characteristic this is of himself -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 Declarative Self -comprises all conscious knowledge or opinions about your personality traits Self-Esteem: overall how you deem yourself: good/bad, worthy/unworthy or somewhere in between. -second kind of opinion more detailed, everything you (think you) know about your traits and abilities: can be right or wrong Self-Esteem -low self-esteem (low feelings of worth) correlated with life dissatisfaction, hopelessness, and depression, loneliness, delinquency -low self-esteem might be a danger signal (evolutionary roots): if people in social group are displeased by you, have feeling of low self-esteem as a warning for social ostracism (fatal issue in historic past); needs to motivate you to restore reputation -try to use affirmations, but these can backfire if too extreme and simply juxtapose your (for example) unlovability with the suggest lovability of the statement -not good for self-esteem to get too high; person may still risk social ostracism -self-enhance: people who think they are better than others who know them think they are -arrogance, abusiveness, criminal tendencies -narcissism is bad: react badly (to perceived insult) against othersassociated with brittle self- esteem -get people to do activities which legitimize self-esteem -most important that self-esteem is accurate: KNOW THYSELF The Self-Schema : cognitive structure in which the declarative self resides in, and that includes all of one’s ideas about the self, organized into a coherent system Ex: filling out a personality trait survey, person answers by looking at memory system for relevant information; memory system is self schema, collects S (self) data -more than one way to get at self schema! -can use S data, B data, or both -schematic scale: say how you are in a trait, and how high you value that -high end (8-12), schematic for trait -opposite end (1-4): schematic for opposite trait -aschematic if not -two important implications: a) whether measuring by schematic inventory test, or having a quick response time indicating a specific cognitive processing, the results may amount to the same thing -not so much difference between trait and cognitive! b) One’s self views, conceptualized however, have important consequences for how you process information -being schematic for a personality trait e.g. shyness amounts to being an ‘expert’ in that trait -research shows experts see the world in their context, easily remember information relevant to their area of expertise, etc -advantages: makes you a better ____, but you can’t see outside of your box, less likely to see new perspectives/try new things -self-schema embodies knowledge based on part experience -doesn’t change though even if you lost memory of your past; your impression for what you are like does not depend on your memory for specific things you have done (different part of brain) Self-Reference and Memory Long-term Memory: permanent memory storage; best way to do this is to ‘elaborate’ on information; more complex the processing that a piece of information receives, the more likely it is to get transferred into LTM -principle of cognitive psychology is useful for studying: don’t just do rote memorization, take those key passages and consider them from all angles -particularly good way to remember something: think about some specific way that it relates to one’s self -self-schema is rich, well-developed, and used often: any information tied in there will be accessible for a long time -a good way to remember is to ask: ‘what does this have to do with me?’ doesn’t matter the answer, just thinking about how it might be self-relevant is important Self-Reference Effect: enhancement of LTM that comes from thinking of how information relates to the self; particular part of prefrontal cortex involved -might explain why your most personally meaningful memories stick with you the longest -in collectivist culture, studies said that one could also think of how something connects to their parents and remember it equally as well Self-Efficacy -because conscious self-schema contains our ideas about our characteristics and capabilities, it affects what we do Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy: our opinions about our capabilities set the limits of what we will attempt E.g. if we think we are sociable, we will seek out people -self-concept is SO important: -demonstrates dangers in persuading people they cannot do certain things -Barbie doll saying ‘math class is tough’ Carol Dweck (entity and incremental self-views): believes that beliefs that one develops about oneself form the basic foundations of personality. -can be changed! (from entity (give up, believe it is instric and cannot be altered) theorists to incremental theorists[keep going, it can be developed and grown]) Possible Selves : images we have, or can construct, of the other possible ways we might be. -possible self you envision for your future may affect your goals in life Ex: different mate preferences might stem (to some degree) from the selves they expect to be possible in the future, which itself is a function of society (not necessarily biology) -people want future seleves to fulfill needs for meaning/competence but not to change too much - people want future selves to maintain same time identify over time(continuity) Self-Discrepancy Theory -you have two kinds of desired selves: the interactions between them and you actual self determines how you feel about life -ideal self: what you could be at your very best -ought self: what you should (as opposed to what you would like) to be -both of these are probably unrealistic, but failing to fulfill each has different consequences Ideal: depressed Ought: anxious -these differ because they represent different foci to life -you focus your life on the pursuit of pleasure and rewards, to some extent: your ideal self is that perfect being who has accomplished it all (goal state) -other focus is on avoiding punishment: your ought self is the goal state where no punishments or other bad events will occur -individuals balance these goals differently -primarily pursue reward (ideal self), failures to attain your reward will tend to depress you
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