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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Self-Knowledge and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem

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Simon Fraser University
PSYC 260
Janelle Jones

PSYC 260 – Fall 2012 Book Notes: Chapter 5 – Self-Knowledge and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem THE NATURE OF THE SELF Self-Concept – the contents of the self; our knowledge about who we are - Composed of one’s thoughts and beliefs about oneself, called the “known” (James, 1890) - A child’s self-concept is concrete, with reference to easily observable characteristics such as gender, height, age, and hobbies - As we grow older, one’s self-concept becomes more complex, and we place less emphasis on physical characteristics and more emphasis on our psychological states (i.e. thoughts and feelings), our traits or characteristics, and considerations of how other people judge us Self-Awareness – the act of thinking about ourselves, the “knower” Self-Recognition – being able to recognize our reflection in the mirror - Chimpanzees, dolphins, and humans starting at age 2 seem to have this ability Self-Regulation – also called self-control - We can imagine events that have not yet occurred and engage in long-term planning, and it is the self that does this planning and exerts control over our actions - Self-Regulatory Resource Model – suggests that self-control is a limited resource o Exerting self-control on one task reduces one’s ability to exert control over the next, completely unrelated task o Dealing with stress depletes the “self-resource” so there is less to spend in other areas  Former smokers are more likely to take up smoking again when life gets tough  Efforts are more likely to fail at night, when the self-resource has been depleted by a day of making choices and resisting temptations i.e. dieters are more likely to break their diets at night, and bulimics are more likely to engage in binge eating at night THE CONTENT OF THE SELF Self-Schemas – an organized body of knowledge about the self (i.e. attitudes, preferences, traits) that influences what people notice, think about, and remember about themselves - Self-Reference Effect – the tendency for people to remember information better if they relate it to themselves o Integrating information with our self-schemas helps us organize the information better and connect it other information about ourselves, which makes it more likely that we will remember it later - Schemas can also bias memory processes o Our desire to see ourselves in a more positive light can influence which of our past actions we are most likely to remember (Kunda, 1993)  chapter 1: primary motive: the Need to feel good about ourselves o When people are motivated to see themselves as possessing a desired quality or trait, they conduct a selective memory search for examples of past behaviors that are consistent with that trait  this allows them to draw the “rational” conclusion that the desirable trait is part of their self-schemas - Self-Concept Clarity – extent to which knowledge about the self is stable, and clearly and consistently defined o People who are low in self-clarity tend to have low self-esteem , are depression prone, and are more neurotic and less aware of their internal states; they tend to engage more in chronic self-analysis and rumination (Campbell, 2000)  More likely to engage in self-handicapping – creating excuses in advance so if one does poorly on a task, one can avoid self-blame (Thomas & Gadboid, 2007) Cultural Differences in Defining the Self Independent View of the Self Interdependent View of the Self - Defining oneself in terms of one’s own internal - Defining oneself in terms of one’s relationships thoughts, feelings, and actions, not in terms of to other people; recognizing that one’s behavior the thoughts, feelings, and actions of other people is often determined by the thoughts, feelings, and - Found in many Western cultures actions of others - Value independence and uniqueness - Found in many Asian and collectivist cultures - Self-concept clarity as a Western phenomenon - Value connectedness and interdependence oSelf-concept clarity not as closely linked to whereas independence and uniqueness are self-esteem for Japanese participants as it frowned on was for Canadian participants oJapanese participants did have lower self- concept clarity Gender Differences in Defining the Self Women Men - Women’s self-concepts reflect more relational - Collective interdependence – define themselves interdependence – they focus more on their in terms of social groups i.e. sports teams close relationships - In collectivist cultures, both men and women - In individualist cultures, women were found to were equally likely to hold a relational view of hold a more relational view to the self the self Introspection – the process by whereby people look inward and examine their own feelings, thoughts, and motives - People do not rely on this source of information a lot – people actually spend very little time thinking about themselves: people mostly think about chores, work, and time - Even when people do introspect, the reasons for their feelings and behavior can be hidden from conscious awareness - Self-Awareness Theory – the idea that when people focus their attention on themselves, they evaluate and compare their behavior with their internal standards and values o We become self-conscious in the sense that we become objective, judgmental observers of ourselves o If you feel you can’t change your behavior to be match your internal standards, then being in a state of self-awareness will be very uncomfortable because you will be confronted with disagreeable feedback about yourself o Escaping self-awareness through alcohol abuse, binge eating, suicide, religious expression, spirituality, etc o Self-focus can be a way of keeping you out of trouble, by reminding you of your sense of right and wrong - Cultural Differences in Self-Awareness o East Asians have an outside perspective on the self – viewing themselves through the eyes of other people  May be in a chronic state of self-awareness because they are more likely to be seeing themselves through the eyes of other people  Are less influenced by cues such as mirrors  Japanese participants in the studies acted as if they had “mirrors in their heads” and therefore did not need an actual mirror to see themselves from an outside perspective o Western cultures have an insider perspective on the self – focusing on private experiences without considering how other people see them  When a mirror was present, Americans rated themselves as more dissatisfied with themselves; also
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