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Chapter 6

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3450
Karl Hennig

Chapter 6: Development of The Self and Social Cognition Self: the combination of physical and psychological attributes that is unique to each person Self concept evolves from social interactions Looking glass self: the idea that a childs self-concept is largely determined by the ways other people respond to them Social cognition: thinking that people display about the thoughts, feelings, motives and behaviours of themselves and other people The Development of The Self-Concept Self- concept: ones perception of one's unique combination of attributes Propreceptive feedback: sensory information that makes one able to locate their own body parts in space Infants gain this capability as young as 1-3 months Infants 2 months of age have a limited sense of personal agency which is the recognition that one can be the cause of an event(s) Ex: An infants feet are attached to strings, when the strings are moved a screen produces interesting audio and visual, the child will learn that when they move their feet these events are produced. This does not prove that infants can differentiate themselves from other objects in the environment At 9 mo. Infants can recognize that they can share joint attention which means they and a companion can both share perceptual experiences ex. Both looking at a ball At 1 yr they can recognize that they can direct a companions attention by pointing, etc. Self-Recognition Once infants know that they exist separate from other people and objects they can begin to find out who or what they are Exposing infants to videotapes or reflections of their selves and recording their responses is the easiest way to measure this behaviour 4-5 month olds seem to treat their own faces as familiar social stimuli, they can clearly discriminate themselves from a peers face Longer gazes at novel faces (the peers) and less interest in their own (familiar faces) This does not prove self cognition (they are thinking that what they see is themselves) Self recognition: the ability to recognize ones self through a mirror/photograph/video tape and consciously be aware that the image in the mirror, etc is a representation of me Rouge test: Mothers are asked to apply a spot of red to the infants nose then place the infant in front of the mirror, if the child wipes its face they have self recognition Young infants had no self recognition and tried to wipe the red off of the image in the mirror Some 15-17 mo did The majority of 18-24 month olds wiped their faces Infants in other cultures who are not exposed to mirrors still displayed the same age range in which they wiped the red off of their faces They are not aware yet of their entity of self is stable over time Present self: early self representation in which 2 and 3 year olds recognize current representations of self but not largely aware of past self representations or self relevant events have implications for the future Extended self: more mature self representation, emerging between 3 and 5 years of age un which children can integrate past present and the unknown future self representations This means that they 1. Recognize that self is stable over time 1. Events that happen recently effect the present 2. Events that happened in the past may not bestill occuring Cognitive and social contributors to self-recognition One contributor is secure attachment to the primary caregiver Securely attached children out perform insecurely attached ones Parents also contribute to expanding the childs self concept by providing descriptive information (your a big girl! etc) and evaluating their behaviours ( that's wrong Billy, good boys dont steal from their sisters) Parents also talk to children about noteworthy events (zoo, mall, etc) by asking where they went, what they liked. This helps children create a narrative timeline of me Social and emotional consequences of self-recognition Once children display self recognition they begin to form self conscious emotions such as embarrassment This is the beginning of co-operative play and team work with shared goals Emergence of categorical self Categorical self: a persons classification of the self along socially significant dimensions such as sex and age At a young age children are aware of ethnic categories but often cannot classify them correctly Who am I? Responses by school children Descriptions are not psychological descriptions such as I am funny and nice They explain themselves using physical capabilities (I can lift a chair, I am strong), possessions (I have a TV in my room) and physicalattributes (I have blue eyes) Childrens theory of mind and emergence of private self Public self (me): those aspects that others can see or infer Private self (or I): those inner, or subjective aspects of self that are known only to the individual These states require theory of mind: an understanding that people are cognitive beings with mental states that are not always accessible to others and that guide our behaviour First step to theory of mind is to realize that humans are animate in which behaviours reflect goals and intentions At 9-12 mo children engage in joint attention where pointing at or directing companions attention therefore understanding that the companion is capable of understanding/ sharing their own intentions and perspectives. Desire theory: a theory in which a person actions are thought to be a reflection of ones desires rather than other mental states such as belief. If a women looks disgusted when shown crackers, the child will assume that she would prefer fruit over crackers At age 3 children start to understand the connections between mental states (a child that desires a cookie will feel good when he gets it) They are also aware that 1. They may know something that others may not 2. People cannot observe their thoughts Between ages 3 and 4 most children develop a belief-desire theory: they recognize that beliefs and desires are different mental states and that either or both can influence ones conduct False-belief task: method of assessing ones understanding that people can hold inaccurate beliefs that can influence behaviour 3 year olds believe that beliefs are accurate representations of reality but that is not always true Beliefs are merely interpretations of reality and may differ from person to person Theory of mind is the foundation for all later social-cognitive development How does theory of mind originate? Biologically children are predisposed to this awareness but environment and social interactions are key Listening to parents and family talk 1. Fosters general language development 2.when mothers talk about mental states the child is more likely to describe these states. 3. Children with older siblings experience more deception, which illustrate that belief does not reflect reality
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