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Chapter 7

PSYC 307 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Social Comparison Theory, Collectivism, Western People

Course Code
PSYC 307

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Chapter 7- motivation
- The kinds of things that motivate us vary in important ways across
- We are motivated to pursue the things we want and to avoid the things we
don’t want.
Motivations for self-enhancement and self-esteem
- Japanese students need motivation by telling them to work harder and
not that they are already good.
- Self enhancement- motivation to view oneself positively.
oMany north Americans have strong need to view themselves
- Self-serving biases- tendencies for people to exaggerate how good they
think they are.
oCollege professors view themselves above average
oMay be because they are motivated to view themselves positively
oNot confined to academics and observed in elementary school
children, high school, and college, and working adults
- Humans are quite accurate about themselves when they encounter
incontrovertible evidence e.g. height difference, sports skills
- People who are motivated to secure a positive self-view are often
resourceful enough to figure out a way to get one.
- Downward social comparison- comparing your performance with the
performance of someone who is doing worse than you
- Upward social comparison- when we compare our performance with
someone who is doing better than we are.
oMore painful
- Compensatory self-enhancement- acknowledge the poor grade you got in
class, but you Instead start to think about your excellent clarinet-playing
- Discounting- reducing the perceived importance of the domain in which
you performed poorly.
- External attribution- attribute the cause of our actions to something
outside ourselves, in contrast to an internal attribution, when we locate
the cause within ourselves, such as our abilities

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- Bask in the reflected glory- emphasize our connection to successfully
performing others and feel better about ourselves by sharing in the warm
glow of others’ success.
o“we” than “they”
- Would people from collectivistic backgrounds show similarly strong
motivations to enhance themselves?
oAt young age there is cultural variation in positive self-views
oEuro-Americans are more positive about themselves than native –
oTendencies to show self-serving biases are far less common
among east Asian samples than western ones.
oAmericans find success more memorable, and Japanese tend to
find failures more memorable.
oAsian Canadians were 3x more likely to seek upwards social
comparison than downwards one when experiencing failure
oJapanese view the tasks even more important after failing as
comparing to north Americans who discount the importance of the
oNorth Americans make more external attributions for their failures
but Japanese often make more external attributions for their
oAmericans bask in reflected glory of their sports teams, Japanese
sports fans are more critical of their own team than of the
- Do East Asians really view themselves in more self-critical terms than
North Americans?
oEast Asians may be more motivated to enhance their group selves
rather than their individual selves.
oEast Asians’ relatively self-critical views appear to generalize from
their individual selves to their groups.
oEndowment effect- tendency for people to value objects more
once they own them, and have endowed them with their own
positive qualities
E.g. craigslist selling junk for more than objects worth
Stronger in western samples than East Asian ones.
Some situations, East Asians show a reverse effect

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oEast Asians may value a different set of traits from those that have
been explored in research
oPossibility is that these studies are not measuring people’s
“true” feelings but are instead tapping into differences in cultural
norms for describing oneself.
oEast Asians “like” themselves as much as westerners, but when it
comes to assessments of their competence, East Asians are more
- American stories focused on children’s attention on their strengths,
whereas Taiwanese parents were more likely to focus children’s attention
on areas that needed correcting
- Predestination- idea that before we were born, it had been already been
determined whether we were one of the fortunate “ elect” who would
spend eternity in blessed heaven after our passing, or were one of the
wretched many who were doomed to burn in hell forever
oDistinction between spending eternity in heaven or in hell was
sufficient motivator to lead people for self enhancement.
- Cultural messages common in individualistic cultures encourage people
to be self-sufficient and not to rely on others.
oExtremely difficult if one did not view oneself positively
- United states is becoming more and more individualistic
Motivations for face and self-improvement
- Face- amount of social value others give you if you live up to the
standards associated with your position.
- People can become highly motivated to maintain and enhance their face.
oFace is more easily lost than it is gained
oFace is lost when individuals fail to live up to standards of their
- Prevention orientation- defensive, cautious approach to not losing
- Promotion orientation- concern over advancing oneself, and aspiring for
oThese two orientations are fundamentally different and have
different areas of activation in the brain
oWe are engaged in a promotion focus when we are trying to
secure good things and prevention focus when trying to avoid bad
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