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Chapter 2

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Jennifer Ostovich

Chapter 2: The Self in a Social World - social surroundings shape how we think about ourselves: as individuals in a group of a different culture, race, sex, we notice how we differ and how others are reacting to our differences (only woman in a exec meeting is likely to be aware of her gender) - self-interest colours our judgements about others and ourselves: when problems arise, we attribute the problem to others (marriages, Nobel Peace Prize) - Looking good to others motivates our social behaviour: monitor and adjust to expectations, concern for self-image, diet and cosmetics - Your ideas and feelings about yourself affect how you interpret events, how you recall, how you respond  shape sense of self - Self concept (who am I) + self esteem (my sense of self-worth) + self knowledge (how can I explain and predict myself) + social self (my roles as a student, friend etc) Self-concept: Who am I? Intuition: Looking within Powers and perils of intuition - unconscious controls most of behaviour - light turns red: hit the brake before consciously deciding to do so - thinking is partly controlled, and partly automatic • controlled processing: explicit thinking that is deliberate, reflective and conscious • automatic processing: implicit thinking that is effortless, habitual, w/o awareness, roughly corresponds to “intuition” - examples of automatic thinking: • schemas (mental templates) guide our perceptions & interpretations • emotional reactions are often instantaneous (sensory  thalamus  amygdala before thinking cortex can intervene) • we remember facts/names/past experiences explicitly, but skills/conditioned dispositions implicitly [physician introduced name, yet patient with brain damage with explicit memory deficitsalways forgot: affixed a tack to patient’s hand, causing him pain  when he returned: patient still forgot his name, but was unwilling to shake his hand] • lost portion of visual cortex  partially blind  report not seeing any sticks, but got answers correct  they know more than they know they know • subliminal priming of a disapproving pope (vs. frowning of a stranger) lowered women’s ratings of themselves (after they read a sexually explicit passage) - many routine cognitive functions occur automatically, unintentionally, w/o awareness - brain knows much more than it tells us Intuitions about the self - much of thinking occurs outside of our awareness, conscious thoughts bear little resemblance to unconscious behaviour - do our conscious explanations of our behaviours and our conscious understanding of who we are bear little resemblance to our unconscious thoughts? - We may dismiss factors that matter and perceive others that don’t as influential - Nisbett & Schachter • Ask university students to take series of electric shocks, increasing intensity • Some took a pill, told would produce heart palpitations, breathing irregularities etc • Given the fake pill  took 4 times as much shock • When asked why they could withstand so much shock  didn’t talk about the pill • Granted that others might be influenced but denied its influence on them ( i didn’t even think about the pill) • People attributed shock symptoms sot pill  tolerate more shock - Recorded mood and contributing factors  little relationship between their perceptions of how well a factor predicted their mood & how well they actually did so (how much insight do we actually have to what makes us happy/unhappy?) - Wegner’s computer mouse/I spy experiment • 2 people jointly control a computer mouse that glides over I-spy board with pictures • Hear objects over headphones  stop on picture they want • Even when one person is a confed and forced mouse to a particular picture  participant typically perceived that they willed the mouse to the chosen picture Predicting our behaviour - people deny that they will obey demands and deliver shocks  in reality, many are vulnerable - self-predictions of whether one would be involved in a romantic relationship, being sick  inaccurate compared to average person’s experience - dating couples predict the longevity of their relationships (feel they will always be lovers)  less optimistic predictions of roommates/families are more accurate - someone who knows you can probably predict your behaviour better than you can - better prediction? Consider past behaviour in a similar situation - can better predict your behaviour by asking them to predict others’ actions • Prior to Cornell’s Daffodil days charity event: asked students to predict whether they would buy daffodil for charity and how many % of students would do so  predicted 4/5 would buy  reality only 43% brought, close to prediction that 56% of students would buy one • 84% participants predicted they would cooperate with another for mutual game in a lab game played for money  only 64% did (close to prediction of cooperation by others) - Do intuitions always lead us astray? Instead of deliberating, let time pass, allow automatic process to influence decisions? • Had people make important decisions right away such as buying car or house (consciously deliberate, consider pros and cons) vs. let time pass by (allow automatic or unconscious thoughts to influence decision, instead of actually thinking about decision) • Months later, people were happiest with decisions (lab or real world) when they made the decision after a delay • Unconscious intuitions may be better guides than previously thought Predicting our feelings - sometimes we know, other times we mispredict our respondes - most women said they would feel angry if they were asked sexually harassing questions on a job interview  actually reported experiencing fear - “affective forecasting” studies reveal that people have greatest difficulty predicting the intensity and the duration of their future emotions - when hungry, mispredict how gross those deep-fried doughnuts will seem when sated  when stuffed, one mispredicts how yummy a dounught might be - 1/7 predict they will be smoking in five years  underestimated - Overestimate how much well-being would be affected by warmer winters, losing weight, winning lottery - When not aroused, one easily mispredicts how one will feel and act when aroused - “we want, we get, we are happy”  false - We often “miswant” - Impact bias: overestimating the enduring impact of emotion-causing event • More prone after negative events • Assistant professors believed a favourable outcome (achieving tenure) was important to future happiness  those denied tenure were just as happy as those who received it (few years after the event) • predictions of future emotions influences decisions - when focusing on negative events, we discount the importance of everything else that contributes to happiness  overpredict enduring misery - east Asians more likely to consider other factors - people neglect the speed & power of their psychological immune system: strategies for rationalizing, discounting, forgiving, limiting emotional trauma  we actually accommodate more readily than we think we do - major negative events (active psychological defences0 can be less enduringly distressing than minor irritations The wisdom and illusions of self-analysis - intuitions are often wrong about what has influenced us, and what we feel and do - but when the causes of our behaviour are conscpicuous and the correct explanation fits our intuition, our self-perceptions will be accurate - when causes of behaviour are obvious to an observer  obvious to us as well - we are more aware of the results of our thinking than the process (artists/scientists don’t recall the process of that produced their insights, incubate  “enlighten”, mental clock - Wilson: The mental process that control our social behaviour are distinct from the mental processes through which we explain our behaviour • Rationale explanations omit gut-level attitudes that guide our behaviour • Expressed attitudes usually predict later behaviour well • But when asked participants to analyze their feelings  attitude reports became useless • Rate happiness  predicted whether they would still be dating (correlated) • List reasons why they think relation was good/bad  rate happiness  attitude reports useless in predicting future of relationship • Gut feelings vs. analyzing poster before purchase  those who analyzed were less satisfied with their choice few weeks later • Gut-level reactions more consistent (first impression can be telling) - Dual attitude system: differing implicit (automatic) and explicit (consciously controlled) attitudes toward the same object • Verbalized explicit attitudes may change with education & persuasion (childhood dislike  appreciation) • Implicit attitudes change slowly, practice forms new habits - Miller & Tesser believe Wilson overstates our ignorance about one self • Drawing people’s attention to reasons diminishes the usefulness of attitude reports in predicting behaviours that are driven by feelings (agreed) • Get in touch with feelings  more useful? • Some decisions are more cognitively driven (picking school based on tuition, career advancement) • Heart has it’s reasons, but mind’s own reasons are decisive - Implications 1. Self-reports are often untrustworthy: errors in self-understanding limits the scientific usefulness of subjective personal reports 2. The sincerity with which people report and interpret their experiences is not guarantee of the validity of these reports • Personal testimonies are powerfully persuasive, but may be wrong (keeping potential error in mind  can feel less intimidated by others, less gullible) Fitting in: Looking to others - how we are viewed by others & how we fit into our social groups are central to how we define ourselves - people think well of us  helps us think well about ourselves - children who are labelled as gifted/hard working  incorporate these into their self- concept and behaviour - feel threatened  identify somewhere else - looking-glass self: using others as mirror for perceiving ourselves - George Mead: it’s the way we imagine they see us (e.g. overestimate appraisal) Social comparison - social comparison: evaluating one’s abilities & opinions by comparing oneself to others • use others as benchmark by which we can evaluate our performance & beliefs - comparison to others are a strong determinant of our self-views • when 1 & 4 year accounting students at UT & UWO had no comparison to the superstar accounting students  similar self-evaluations • when they had comparison: 1 years were inspired (rose), 4 years dropped steeply - can profoundly affect our self-feelings: person concerned about weight can feel worse after reading about a thin peer - students tend to have a higher academic self-concept if they attend a school with few exceptionally capable students  feel threatened when they enter university where students graduate near the top of their class (in a little bond, fish feels bigger) - self-esteem: a person’s overall self-evaluation or sense of self-worth • we monitor and react to how others appraise us • tracks how we see ourselves on traits that we believe are valued by others • people believe social acceptance depends on easily observable traits (appearance) • self-esteem corresponds to superficial traits more closely than communual qualities • but SE is also predicted by commnal qualities for people whose roles make these qualities attractive to others  SE thus depends on whether or not we believe we have traits that make us attractive to others, and not necessarily on the traits that we say we value the most - “Self esteem maintenance” predicts a variety of findings, including brother and sister friction • Tesser: threat to SE is greatest for an older child with a highly capable younger sibling • People’s perceiving one of you as more capable than the other will motivate the less able one to act in ways that maintain his/her SE • SE threats occur among friends (success can be more threatening than strangers) & married couples (similar career goals) • When partner outperforms  reduce threat by affirming the relationship (my capable partner, with whom I’m very close, is part of who I am) • Low SE predicts risk of depression, drug use, delinquency • Even public success can be aversive: provokes anxiety that he will never be able to live up to the expectations - High SE fosters initiative, pleasant feelings, but there’s a dark side (people who engage in sexual activity earlier than others  higher SE) - When favourable SE is threatened  react by putting others down (even by violence) • Undergrad men with high SE became more antagonistic after failing aptitude test • Those with high SE (agreed with statements such as I am more capable) delivered 3 times the auditory torture (can deliver nosie of any intensity for any duration in a game after they were criticized for their essay (one of the worst essays I read vs. great essay) - Baumeister: effects of SE are small, limited, not good at all (self control worth more) - Big egos do bad things to conceal inner insecurity & low self esteem  no evidence (Hitler had high SE) - People expressing low SE are somewhat more vulnerable to assorted clinical problems (eating disorders, depression, anxiety)  when feeling threatened, more likely to view everything through dark lense (notice, and remember others’ worst behaviours, think that partners don’t love them) - SE comes in 2 forms: explicit & implicit • When people have conscious views of themselves that are positive, but low implicit self esteem  fragile SE • Fragile high SE: favour own group more • People w/ low implicit SE: feel threatened  adopt more extreme views on controversial issues, & believe these views are more widely shared • Some high SE people (negative implicit views of themselves)  prone to react defensively • Secure self-esteem (more than rooted in grades, looks, others’ approval)  long term well being • Fragile SE: most stress, relationship problems etc. compared to those whose SE was rooted in internal sources (personal virtues) • Pursue SE by focusing on looks, popularity may lose sight of what really makes for quality of life (if it’s the goal  less open to criticism, blame others, pressured to succeed  fail to satisfy deep needs) Social Identity - self concept: sense of who we are + social identity - social identity: the “we aspect” of our self-concept, the part of our answer of “who am I” that comes from our group memberships - academic major, religion, race - put in small group surrounded by a larger group  conscious of our social identity - when social group is majority  think less about it but if you’re the only female, only Canadian  conscious of uniqueness - feel one’s identity more keenly  react accordingly - Scottish (out numbered by English in UK) defines themselves, but English less conscious of being “non-Scottish” (English guests reports British nationality in hotel guest book, Scots report as Scottish, though they’re equally British) Summary Decide who we are/develop self concept, source of information: - intuition • curiously flawed • can miss the powerful influences • subtle implicit processes that control our behaviour may differ from conscious explicit explanations - how we are viewed by others • heavily interpret these views as we define ourselves • whether we fit in & are seen positively by others  basis of SE • how we compare and how our groups are viewed by others  shape self-concepts Self-organization: How the self operates - use and make sense of information gained  arranged/organized to influence people’s thoughts and judgement At the centre of our worlds: our sense of self - self-schema: beliefs about self that organize and guide the processing of self-relevant information (elements of self-concept, specific beliefs by which you define yourself) - schemas: mental templates by which we organize our worlds - self-schemas (perceiving ourselves as athletic, smart etc) affects perceive, remember and evaluation of other people and ourselves - e.g. if being an athelete is your self-schema, you will tend to notice others’ bodies & skills, quickly recall sports-related experiences, welcome information that is consistent with your self-schema Self reference - self-reference effect: the tendency to process efficiently and remember well information related to oneself - if asked to compare ourselves with a character in a short story  remember the character better - 2 days after a conversation with someone  remember best for what the person said about us - Memories form around our primary interest: OURSELVES - Because we tend to see ourselves on centre stage  we overestimate the extent to which others’ behaviour is aimed at us - See ourselves as responsible for events in which we played only a small part - Compare someone else’s behaviour to our own when judging others - Overhear our name spoken  auditory radar shifts Possible selves - images of what we dream of or dread becoming in the future - self concept: schemas of who we currently are + who we might become - positive or negative (the self we fear of becoming) - motivates us with specific goals for a vision of the life we long form Self-organization and self-esteem - SE = self schemas + possible selves? Which way does the arrow point? - SE  self schemas + possible selves or backwards - Psychologists assume so when they suggest that to help people feel better about themselves, should first make them feel attractive, athletic, smarter etc –top down • Esp. for particular domains important to SE (one person may have SE that’s highly contingent on doing well in school  have high SE when made to feel smart and good looking) - Others argue that people who value themselves in a general way (those with high SE) are more likely to value their looks, abilities etc. [parents don’t first evaluate infant’s fingers or toes to decide how much the value the whole baby] –bottom up • Global self-esteem affects specific self-perceptions • “integrative ability” Gave students set of 3 words  challenged them to think of a word that linked the 3 • High SE people report having thi
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