CH 5 SELF-KNOWLEDGE: HOW WE COME TO UNDERSTAND OURSELVES
Oct 7/2011 – Pg 126-155
The Nature of the Self - Self concept: our knowledge about who we are
Self concept - Self awareness: The act of thinking about ourselves
Self awareness - We are not the only species with a sense of self:
o Ex. Researchers placed a mirror in an animals cage until it became a familiar object.
o Animal was anesthetized and a red dye was painted on its brow or ear
o Chimps touched the area of their heads marked with the red spot
o Dolphins have also shown signs of recognizing themselves in mirrors.
o Researchers used the red dye test with toddlers and found self-recognition develops at
around age 2.
- As we mature, we place less emphasis on physical characteristics and more on psychological
states and on considerations of how other people judge us.
Functions of the Self
Organizational Function of the Self
- Self schemas: mental structures that help us organize our knowledge about ourselves
- Self reference effect is the tendency for people to remember information better if they relate it
Self Regulation: The Executive Function
- Self regulatory resource model: suggests that self control is a limited resource, you can spend a
limited amount of energy devoted to self control in one task makes it difficult to exert control
on a subsequent task
Cultural differences in
Defining the Self - Masako Owada was a brilliant career diplomat in the foreign ministry, educated at Harvard and
Oxford but her decision to marry the prince surprised many observers because it meant she
would have to give up her career and independent life
- In many Western cultures, people have an independent view of the self, which is defining
oneself in terms of ones own internal thoughts, feelings and actions instead of others.
- In contrast, Asian cultures have an interdependent view of the self, which defines oneself in
terms of ones relationships to other people and recognizes ones behaviour is determined by the
thoughts, feelings and actions of others.
Gender Differences in
Defining the Self - Women have more relational interdependence meaning they focus more on close relationships,
such as how the fell about their spouse or child
- Men have more collective interdependence meaning they focus on their memberships in larger
groups, such as they are Americans or they belong to a fraternity.
Through Introspection - You rely on introspection, looking inward to examine the inside information that you and you
alone have about your thoughts, feelings and motives
- Actually, people do not rely on this source of information that much and the reasons for their
feelings and behaviour can be hidden from conscious awareness
Focusing on the Self: Self-
Awareness Theory - Researchers asked employees to wear beepers for a week that went off at random times during
the day. When it went off, the participants answered a series of questions about their activities,
thoughts, and moods at that time.
- Only 8% of total thoughts recorded were about the self, more often, the participants thought
about work, chores and time.
- Self awareness theory: when we evaluate and compare our current behaviour to our internal
standards and values
- Seeing your behaviour in a reflection can make you aware of the disparity between your
behaviour and internal standards. - If you feel you can't change your behaviour, being in a state of self-awareness will be
uncomfortable because you'll be confronted with disagreeable feedback about yourself.
o Ex. Researchers asked women who didn't exercise regularly to ride an exercise bike
for 20 minutes. Half of the women rode bikes in front of a mirror
o Mirror women enjoyed exercise the least because it reminded them that there was a
discrepancy between an internal standard and their typical actions
- Some people escape the self through alcohol, binge eating, and sexual masochism
- Self focus is important because: (1) if you experienced a success, focusing on yourself can be
pleasant because it highlights your positive accomplishments. (2) It reminds you of your sense
of right and wrong.
Judging Why we Feel the
Way we Do o In a study, college students recorded their daily moods every day for 5 weeks. The students also
kept track of things that might predict their daily moods, such as the weather, their workload
and how much sleep.
o At the end of the week, the students estimated how much their mood was related to these
variables and an analysis of the actual data showed that people were wrong about what
predicted their mood.
Causal theories - What these participants had relied on was their causal theories which are theories about the
causes of ones own feelings and behaviours ; often those that we learn from our culture (e.g.
people who are divorced are a poor choice for a successful second marriage)
- Nesbitt and Wilson designed a study to see if background noises influenced peoples judgments,
i.e. lowered peoples evaluation of a film
o Participants watched a film with annoying background noise but they did not like it
less than the control (without noise)
o When the participants were asked how much the noise had influenced their ratings,
their hypothesis agreed with the researchers'
The Consequences of
Reasons - Reasons-generated attitude change: this is attitude change resulting from thinking about the
Reasons generated attitude reasons for your attitudes
change - Wilson found that attitudes people express immediately after analyzing reasons should not be
trusted too much. The real reasons people feel the way they do not go away when people
analyze reasons: they just get obscured temporarily by focusing on reasons that are easier to put
- If people base a decision on reasons-generated attitude, they might regret it later when their
original feelings return.
Knowing Ourselves by
Observing Our Own
Behavior - Self perception theory argues that when our attitudes and feelings are uncertain or ambiguous,
we infer these states by observing our behaviour and the situation when it occurs.
- We only infer our feelings from our behaviour when were not sure how we feel.
o Ex. If you’ve always known you love classical music, you don’t need to observe your
behaviour to figure this out.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic
Motivation - One of the oldest principles is that by giving a reward each time a behaviour occurs will
increase the frequency of that behaviour. (E.g. Earning by Learning Reading program)
- The danger of reward programs is that kids will think they are reading to earn money not
because reading is interesting.
- When the reward are no longer forthcoming, children may actually read less than they did
before, which is especially likely to happen to people who already like to read.
- Intrinsic motivation: the desire to engage in an activity because they enjoy it or find it
interesting, not because of external rewards or pressures The Overjustification Effect
- When children start getting rewards for reading, their original intrinsic motivation is now also
Extrinsic motivation spurred by extrinsic motivation, the desire to engage in an activity because of external rewards
or pressures, not because you enjoy the task or find it interesting.
- When replacing intrinsic with extrinsic motivation, people lose interest in the activity which is
Overjustification effect the overjustification effect, when people view their behaviour as caused by compelling
Preserving Intrinsic Interest
- Rewards will undermine interest only if interest was high initially. If a child has no interest in
reading, then getting them to read with a reward