The Nature of the Self
selfconcept: the knowledge about who we are
selfawareness: the act of thinking about ourselves.
Functions of the Self: SelfRegulation
o We are the only species who can imagine and control events that have not
o The selfregulatory resource model: selfcontrol is a limited resource, like
a muscle that gets weak with use but then rebounds in strength
o Why do we fail at selfcontrol when under stress?
We could use all of our selfcontrol on one situation that we have
none left for another
The Content of the Self: SelfSchemas
o Selfschemas: an organized body of knowledge about ourselves.
o Selfreference effect: tendency for people to remember information better
if they relate it to themselves
o Selfconcept clarity: the extent to which knowledge about ourselves in
stable and clear. People who have low selfconcept clarity, have low self
esteem and are depression prone than people with high selfesteem clarity.
Cultural Differences in Defining the Self
o In many individualistic cultures, people have an independent view of the
self: defining yourself in terms of your own internal thoughts, feelings and
actions and not of others.
o Collectivist cultures, people have an interdependent view of the self:
defining yourself in terms of your relationship with other people, so your
behavior is determined by the thoughts, feelings and actions of others.
o In collectivist cultures, both men and women equally hold a relational
view of the self
Gender Differences in Defining the Self
o Women’s selfconcepts reflect more relational interdependence, so they
focus more on their close relationships.
o Men’s selfconcepts reflect more collective interdependence, so they
define themselves in terms of social groups, like sports teams to which
Knowing Ourselves through Introspection
introspection: process where people look inwards and examine their own
thoughts, feelings and motives
two pieces of information:
o people don’t rely on introspection as much as we thought
o even when people do introspect, the reasons for their feelings and behavior
can be hidden from the conscious awareness
Focusing on the Self: SelfAwareness Theory o Selfawareness theory: when people focus the attention on themselves,
they evaluate and compare their behavior with internal standards and
values, so we become selfconscious and judgmental
o When we come across a selffocusing situation (like an audience), we
become conscious and start evaluating this situation with our internal
values and standards. If they match, then great. If they don’t, we either
change ourselves or we feel terrible and flee from the awareness, focusing
on something else
o Can be unpleasant: people run away from selfawareness by drinking,
o Can be healthy: people run away from it by being religious and praying,
and they can tell you the difference between right and wrong
Cultural Differences in SelfAwareness
o Collectivist cultures have an outside perspective on the self, viewing
themselves through the eyes of another person, or other people. They will
be less influences by cues (eg, looking in the mirror)
o Western cultures have an inside perspective on the self, focusing on their
own experiences without considering how other people see them
Judging the way we feel the way we do: Telling more than we can know
o It can be difficult to understand why we feel the way we do
o Causal theories: theories about the causes of your own behavior and
feelings, which we typically learn from our culture
Knowing Ourselves by observing our own Behavior
selfperception theory: theory that when our attitudes or feelings are uncertain,
we confirm them by observing our behavior and the situation it occurs in.
we infer our inner feelings from our behavior only when we are not sure how we
feel (eg. If you like classical music, then its automatic and you don’t need to think