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Chapter 3

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PSYC 241
Roderick C L Lindsay

Social Psychology – Ch 3 The Self-Concept Cocktail party effect – tendency of ppl to pick a personally relevant stimuli (like a name) out of a complex and noisy environment Shows that humans are selective in their attention Self is an important object of our own attention Self concept: refers to sum total of beliefs that ppl have about themselves Hazel Marcus  self concept is made up of cognitive molecules called self schemas  beliefs about oneself that guide the processing of self-relevant information Ie. Thinking of yourself as feminine or masculine, independent or dependent etc. Schematic  ie. Someone who regards themselves as extremely overweight (body image is a conspicuous aspect of the self-concept) are considered schematic w/respect to weight Aschematic  ppl who don’t regard a certain attribute as extreme or important part of their life Rudiments of the Self-Concept: Self  special object of our attention; consciousness is like a “spotlight”, but self is front and center Is the Self specially represented in the brain? Sense of identity is biologically rooted (William Thompson) Joseph LeDoux  neuroscientist -> argues that synaptic connections within the brain provide biological base for memory; makes possible the sense of continuity needed for a normal identity Todd Feinberg and Julian Keenan  describes how self can be transformed, and even destroyed, by severe head injuries, brain tumors, diseases and exposure to toxic substances that damage brain and nervous system Using fMRI, PET etc.  certain areas become more active when ppl see a picture of themselves rather than a picture of others, and when they try to judge whether trait words are descriptive of themselves rather than others Do Nonhuman animals show Self-Recognition: Gordon Gallup  put diff. species of animals in a room w/ large mirror  greeted their own images through vocalizing, gesturing and making other social responses After days, only great apes were capable of self-recognition (grooming, blowing bubbles, making faces) Gallup then anesthetized the animals and painted an odorless red dye on brows and returned them to mirror Social Psychology – Ch 3 Only apes spontaneously reached for their own brows  proof they perceived the image as their own Human infants recognize themselves between 18-24 months First clear concept of “me” What makes the self a social concept? 1. Ability to see yourself as distinct and separate from others develops self concept 2. Social factors looking glass self  other ppl serve as a mirror in which we see ourselves we often come to known ourselves by imagining what significant others think of us and incorporating these perceptions into our self concepts Susan Andersen and Serena Chen  thought that the self is “relational”  we draw our sense of who we are from our past and current relationships with the significant others in our lives Our self-concepts match our perceptions of what others think of us However: what we think of ourselves often doesn’t match what others ACTUALLY think of us Introspection: Examination of one’s mental and emotional processes Does it provide a direct pieline to self knowledge? Wilson  argues NO - sometimes impairs self-knowledge Found that attitudes ppl reported having about different objects corresponded closely to their behaviour toward those objects Ie. The more they enjoyed a task, the more time spent on it Once participants were told to analyze reasons for how they felt, their attitudes no longer corresponded to their behaviour Problems: 1. Human beings are mentally busy processing info, which is why fail to understand our own thoughts, feelings nad behaviours (we think too much and we are too analytical) 2. Ppl overestimate the positives; think they are better than average Social Psychology – Ch 3 affective forecasting: difficulty projecting forward and predicting how they would feel in response to future emotional events ppl often overestimate the strength and duration of their emotional reactions impact/durability bias why? 1. When it comes to negative life events (injury illness etc.), ppl do not fully appreciate the extent to which our psychological coping mechanisms help us to cushion the blow humans are remarkably resilient and not as devastated as we fear we will be 2. When we introspect about the emotional impact on us of a future event (eg. breakups), we become so focused on that SINGLE event that we neglect to take into account effect o f other life experiences we don’t think broadly Perceptions of Our Own Behaviour Self perception theory: the theory that when internal cues are difficult to interpret, ppl gain self-insight by observing their own behaviour ie. Arguing with someone then realizing how angry you were  making an inference on own actions there are limits; ppl don’t infer own internal states from behaviour that occurred in presence of compelling situational pressures such as reward or punishment ppl learn about themselves through self-perception when situation alone is insufficient to cause behaviour Self-Perceptions of Emotion Facial feedback hypothesis: states that changes in facial expression can lead to corresponding changes in emotion experiment: Laird  attached electrodes to face and showed cartoons  participants rated what they saw as funnier and reported feeling happier when they were smiling rather than when they were frowning evokes/magnifies certain emotional states but not NECESSARY for subjective experience of emotion Laird argues that facial expressions affect emotion through a process of self- perception “if I’m smiling, I must be happy” facial movements spark emotion because of physiological changes in the brain Social Psychology – Ch 3 Zajonc  argues that smiling causes facial muscles to increase the flow of air- cooled blood to the brain  lowers brain temp = pleasant state Ah and e sounds (mimics smiling) lowered forehead temperature and increased mood U and I (frowning) caused increased temp and dampened mood Body posture  provides sensory feedback and influences mood Expansion  head high, shoulders raised, stand erect Contraction  slumped over, head down etc. Way you carry yourself and posture affects mood Self Perceptions of Motivation: reward for an enjoyable activity can undermine interest in that activity  against intuition according to B.F. Skinner, we are motivated by award; depends how motivation is defined intrinsic motivation – engage in activity for sake of own interest, challenge or sheer enjoyment extrinsic motivation – factors outside person  tangible benefits (money, grades etc.) from standpoint of self-perception theory, when someone is rewarded for doing something pleasurable, his/her behaviour becomes overjustified or overrewarded  now attributed to EXTRINSIC and INTRINSIC motives overjustificaton effect: tendency for intrinsic motivation to diminish for activities that have become associated with reward or other extrinsic factors ie. If ppl get paid for something they already like, they lose interest study: let children play with felt markers and measured how long they played with to measure intrinsic motivation 2 weeks later  children divided into 3 groups : 1.. draw pictures with markers 2. Told that if they used the markers, they would receive a “good player award” 3. No reward for drawing pictures but received a reward when done one week later, teachers placed markers on table and observed through one way mirror Social Psychology – Ch 3 no rewards offered; amount of time children spent with markers reflected intrinsic motivation those w/o reward were not affected, nor were those who received an unexpected reward intrinsically motivated in adults, example: accept money for leisure activity and “play” becomes “work” – negative effects on performance quality ppl more creative when more interested/challenged by work rather than when meeting deadlines/making money this doesn’t mean rewards should NOT be offered  depends on how the reward is perceived if reward is presented in form of verbal praise and is sincere, or a “special bonus for excellent performance”, it can enhance intrinsic motivation (positive feedback about competence) individual differences in ppl’s motivation levels must also be considered some ppl are more intrinsically oriented  reward may be unnecessary and detrimental those that are focused on achieving goals are motivated intrinsically by rewards Influences of Other People: Social Comparison Theory: “who are you” ppl tend to describe themselves in ways that set them apart from others in their immediate vicinity changing someone’s social surroundings causes changes in person’s spontaneous self-description indicates self is “relative”  social construct  we’re defined by using family members, friends etc. as a benchmark social comparison theory: when ppl are uncertain of their abilities or opinions (objective info not available), they evaluate themselves through comparisons with similar others when do we turn to others for comparative info? States of uncertainty, when objective means are unavailable Whom do we compare ourselves with? Social Psychology – Ch 3 We look to others who are similar to us in relevant ways Two Factor Theory of Emotion: Stanley Schachter  found that when ppl were frightened into thinking they would receive painful electric shocks, most sought company of those who were in same predicament “misery loves miserable company” two factors necessary to feel a specific emotion: two-factor theory of emotion 1. person must experience symptoms of physiological arousal – ie. Racing heart, perspiration, rapid breathing, tightening of stomach 2. Person must make a cognitive interpretation that explains source of arousal ppl around us react to situations that help us interpret our own arousal Schachter and Jerome Singer  injected male volunteers with epinephrine; drug that hightens physiological arousal One group forewarned about this and other was not Third group given placebo Before drug actually took effect, participants were left with male confederate introduced as another participant who received same injection Confederate behaved euphorically – bounced around happily, doodling on scratch paper etc. Other situations, confederate displayed anger As drug takes effect, participants in drug-informed group began to feel their hearts pound, hands shake and faces flush – because they were told to expect these symptoms they did not search for an explanation Placebo – don’t become aroused in first place so no symptoms to explain Drug-uninformed group: suddenly become aroused without knowing why – they take their cues from someone else (the confederate) Reported feeling happy or angry depending on confederate’s performance ** NOTE: when ppl are unclear about their own emotional states, they sometimes interpret how they feel by watching others SOMETIMES  for others to influence your emotion, your level of physiological arousal cannot be TOO intense otherwise it will be aversive Other ppl must be present BEFORE onset of arousal as a possible explanation Social Psychology – Ch 3 Autobiographical Memories: Without autobiographical memories (recollections of sequences of events that have touched your life), you would have no coherent self-concept Memories shape our self-concept Recency rule  when ppl are asked to report memories, they typically report ones from recent past instead of distant past Exceptions to recency rule: Older adults retrieve a large number of personal memories from adolescence and early adulthood years “reminiscence peak” that may occur because they are busy and formative years in one’s life ppl tend to remember transitional “firsts” flashbulb memories: enduring, detailed, high-resolution recollections of dramatic events in our memory suggests humans are biological equipped for survival purposes to print these events into memory not necessarily accurate or consistent over time BUT these recollections feel special and are landmarks in our biographies ppl are often motivated to distort past in ways that are self-inflated Senate Watergate hearings of 1973  witness: John Dean Dean submitted a 245 page statement in which he recounted word for word the detail of many convos He was called “the human tape recorder” Found that Nixon taped the meetings that Dean recalled – he remembered the GIST of the convos but exaggerated his own role and importance Ppl tend to revise personal histories to favorably reflect self Ie. Grade recollections resulted in grade inflations ; lower grades recalled with MOSt inflation and least accuracy Older adults recalled fewer negative memories Our visions of the past are pure “escape fancies in which we rebuild the world according to our hearts’ desires” Social Psychology – Ch 3 Cultural Influences on the Self-Concept American parents try to raise children to be independent, self-reliant and assertive Individualism culture – virtues of independent, autonomy and self-reliance Personal goals over group allegiances Japanese children raised to fit into groups and community Collectivism – virtues of interdependence, cooperation, social harmony Loyal member of family, team, company, church etc. Most fiercely individualistic people were form US, Australia, Great Britain, Canada and Netherlands Most collectivist: Venezuela, Colombia, Pakistan, Peru, Taiwan and China So deeply imgrained into culture that they mold our self-conceptiosn and identity North Americans and Europeans have an independent view of self; self is a distinct, autonomous, self-contained, unique entity In Asia, Latin American etc., ppl hold an interdependent view of self – self is part of a larger social network w/ family, friends etc. Close link b/w cultural orientation and conceptions of self Chinese and American students were asked to complete “I am…” with a statement Ameriacns  trait descriptions Chinese  more likely to identify themselves by group affliation Culture influences way we perceive, evaluate and present ourselves in relation to others North Americans tend to overestimate own contributions, efforts, seize the credit for success, blame others for failure Collectivist cultures underestimate their own role and present themselves in more modes,t self-effacing terms American college students seem themselves as less similar to others than do Asian Indian students Social Psychology – Ch 3 Individualist cultures believe they are unique Cultural orientations toward conformity or independence may lead us to favor similarity or uniqueness in all things Study with Korea and US – showed 9 abstract pictures; most were identical in shape, position and direction One or more were different They were asked “which of 9 subfigures do you like the most” US  liked the one that was unique or minority Koreans preferred those that fit in Study: Researchers approached pedestrians of American and East Asian heritage at airport; asked them to fill a questionnaire and receive a gift 74% of Ameriacns chose unique colored pen 76% chose commonly colored pens Self-Esteem: Self-esteem: affectively charged component of self Esteem  latin  to estimate or appraise Refers to our positive and negative evaluations of ourselves Fluctuates in response to success, failure, fortune, social relations etc. b/c self concept made of many self schemas, different areas can differ in self esteem The Need for Self Esteem: Why do we need self esteem? Theory 1: Mark Leary and Roy Baumeister  ppl are inherently social animals and that desire for self-esteem is driven by this more primitive need to connect with others and gain their approval Social Psychology – Ch 3 “sociaometer” – indicator of how we are doing in eyes of others theory 2: Terror Management Theory (Grenberg, Solomon..) – helps explain our relentless need for self-esteem humans are bio
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