Chapter 3 – The Self: Self-Perception and Self-Presentation
Self-concept – an individual’s overall beliefs about his or her own attributes; example: funny,
athletic, outgoing, etc.
Self-concept is one aspect of the self; your knowledge about who you are (Known or the
The second aspect is self-awareness; your act of thinking about yourself. (Knower or the
Your self-concept has an impact on how you feel about yourself. If your overall
evaluation of your attributes is positive, you’ll have high self-esteem, just as your self-
esteem will be lower if you view your attributes less favourably.
Self- awareness – a state of being aware of oneself as an object of one’s thoughts.
When people are forced into being self-aware they become motivated to change their
behaviour either to match personal standards or to escape their self-awareness.
FUNCTIONS OF SELF
Self as an Interpersonal Tool
In order for us to have a social life and have relationships with others around us, we need to have
a relatively stable identity.
Self as Decision Maker
Decisions reflect our goals and values. Example: if you want to become a psychologist, it is
important for you to perform well in your classes which mean completing assignments and
studying for exams.
Self as a Regulatory System
The self has to maintain itself despite the individual’s diverse and sometimes contradictory goals.
Example: while on a diet you struggle to control to eat something bad for you.
Different types of the brain make different types of decisions:
People who were low in self-concept clarity were more likely to be neurotic and have low
self esteem, and were less likely to be aware of their internal states.
Different parts of the brain are responsible for making decisions about immediate rewards
versus delayed rewards.
Self-concept clarity is defined as the extent to which knowledge about the self is clearly
or consistently defined. The Hazards of Introspection
Introspection is actually not a very effective way of gaining insight into our true attitudes.
People who analyze the reasons why they have a particular attitude, show a lower
correlation between their attitudes and their behaviour (their attitudes aren’t very good at
predicting their actual behaviour).
Our feelings are a better predictor of our true preferences and even our future behaviour.
Overestimation of the Impact of Events
Affective forecasting – the process of predicting the impact of both positive and negative events
People are inaccurate in their affective forecasting, meaning that they greatly
overestimate the impact that both positive and negative events will have on their mood.
People expect to feel much greater regret than they actually do, which could lead us to
make faulty decisions.
The Problem if Self-Discrepancy
Self-discrepancy theory – the theory that our self-concept is influenced by the gap between how
we actually see ourselves and how we want to see ourselves.
Example: if you see yourself as a consistent C-level student but come from an academically
successful family and you aspire to be an intellectual like your parents and siblings, you may
experience a large gap between your actual and ideal selves and therefore feel very negative
Self-awareness theory – when people focus on their behaviour, they are motivated to either
change their behaviour (so their attitudes and behaviour are in line) or escape from self-
awareness (to avoid noticing this contradiction).
We look to our own behaviour to determine our attitudes and beliefs in just the same way
that we may examine other people’s behaviour to see what they’re like.
Example: if you regularly choose the chocolate cake from a dessert tray, you assume that
you must like chocolate.
Self-perception theory explains why asking people to perform a behaviour, especially
with little pressure, can lead them to experience a change in self-concept.
Gender differences in self-definition: When information is available about one’s ability on a specific task, men and women are
similar in estimating their ability. However, when this information is missing, men tend
to estimate their abilities at a significantly higher level than women do.
Studies thus seem to indicate that men and women differ in their self-confidence about
their ability to succeed in a task (feminine tasks versus masculine tasks).
Facial feedback hypothesis – the hypothesis that changes in facial expression can lead to changes
Changes in emotion that are caused by facial (and body) feedback are simply a result of
self-perception. People who are smiling may perceive themselves as happy and therefore
INTERPRETING YOUR MOTIVATION
If you believe that you are engaging in a given activity based on intrinsic motivation, you
see your behaviour as motivated by internal factions, such as the interest you have in the
People who work on a task for extrinsic reasons report feeling concerned with
recognition, competition, and tangible rewards or benefits.
The Dangers of Overjustification
Overjustification – the phenomenon in which receiving external rewards for a given behaviour
can undermine the intrinsic motivation for engaging in the behaviour.
Sometimes activities that should be intrinsically motivating, such as reading books,
become less enjoyable once external motivations for such behaviours are provided.
o Example: asking students to voluntarily participate in volunteering compared to
forcing students to volunteer – they are less interested in volunteering in the
Social Comparison Theory
The theory that people evaluate their own abilities and attributes by comparing
themselves to other people.
Example: if you receive an 83 on an exam, you want to know how others did so you can
understand how your performance compares. If the class average was 73, you feel good
about yourself compared to if it was 93.
Especially likely in situations of uncertainty.
Explains why we think about ourselves in very different ways depending on the nature of
the comparison we’re making and its significance to us. False uniqueness effect – we see our own desirable behaviour as less common than is actually
The tendency to remember things in a self-serving way can also lead us to see change
over time, even when no change has occurred.
o Example: people doing poorly in a class and get a tutor often report that their
scores have improved, and they attribute this improvement to the tutor.
Seeing our Views as Shared by Others
False consensus effect – the tendency to overestimate the extent to which other people share our
opinions, attitudes, and behaviours.
We make this mistake because we usually surround ourselves with people who share our
People also see their own skills and abilities as relatively normative, meaning similar to