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PSY220H5 (98)
Chapter 3

TEXTBOOK Chapter 3 - The Social Self

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Emily Impett

Notes From Reading: C HAPTER 3:THE SOCIAL S ELF (64-105) Nature of the Social Self - The study of the self usually begins with William James who wrote The Principles of Psychology, introducing self-related concepts and distinctions - James coined the term, social me to refer to the parts of self-knowledge that are derived from social relationships - Individual Self – Beliefs about our unique personal traits, abilities, preferences, tastes, talents, and so forth (what sets us apart from others) - Relational Self – Beliefs about our identities in specific relationships - Collective Self – Beliefs about our identities as members of social groups to which we belong Origins of Self-Knowledge - Across cultures, the search for the sense of self takes various forms Family and Other Socialization Agents - Parents and other socialization agents teach children what they view as socially appropriate and valued attitudes and behaviors - Shaping the self is captured by the symbolic interactionist notion that we come to know ourselves through imagining what others think of us - Reflected Self-Appraisals – Beliefs about what others think of our social selves o We see ourselves partly through the eyes of those around us - We internalize how we think others appraise us, not necessarily how other actually see us - Adolescents but not adults spontaneously relied on reflected appraisals when reporting their self-views, suggesting that adolescents’ sense of self is likely to be base on their beliefs about others’ view on them Situationism and the Social Self - The notion that the social self changes across different contexts is consistent with the principle of situationism and supported by abundant empirical evidence - Aspects of the Self That Are Relevant in the Social Context o The greatest determinant is what is relevant, or appropriate, in the current situation o Working Self-Concept – Subset of self-knowledge that is brought to mind in a particular context - Aspects of the Self That Are Distinctive in the Social Context o We highlight what makes us unique in a given social situation o In the West, at least, what’s most central to your identity is what makes you distinct - Both malleable and Stable? o Core components of self-knowledge are likely to be on the top of the mind whenever a person think about the self o A person’s overall pool of self-knowledge remains relatively stable over time, providing a sense of self-continuity, even as different pieces of self-knowledge come to the fore in different context o Although a person’s sense of self may shift depending on the context, it’s likely that these shifts conform to a predictable stable pattern Culture and the Social Self - In Western societies, people are concerned about their individuality, about freedom, and about self-expression - In Asian cultures, the homilies and folk wisdom encourage a different view of the self - Cultures that promote an independent self-construal show the self is an autonomous entity that is distinct and separate from others - In cultures that foster interdependent self-construals, the self is fundamentally connected to other people Notes From Reading: C HAPTER 3:T HE S OCIAL S ELF (64-105) Gender and the Social Self - Women tend to construe the self in more interdependent terms than men do - In contrast, men tend to prioritize different and uniqueness, construing the self in more independent terms - Socialization processes may be on influential source of gender-related differences in self- construal, Media portray women and men differently, typically portraying men in positions of power and agency, Parents raise girls and boys differently - Independent self-construal fits the roles largely fulfilled by males in our evolutionary history, and an interdependent self-construal is better tailored to the caregiving demands Social Comparison - Social Comparison Theory – The hypothesis that people compare themselves to other people in order to obtain an accurate assessment of their own opinions, abilities, and internal states - Downward social comparisons help us define ourselves rather favorably, giving a boost to our self-esteem - We are particularly inclined to do upward social comparison when we aspire to be substantially better at some skill or wish to improve - When people evaluate themselves, routinely used comparison targets automatically spring to mind (such as best friends) Narratives about the Social Self - Cross-cultural research finds that self-narratives vary across societies in intriguing ways - Westerners tend to experience and recall events from the inside out – with themselves at the center, looking out at the world - Easterners are more likely to experience and recall events from the outside in – starting form the social world, looking back at themselves as an object of attention Organization of Self-Knowledge - Social selves depend on our ability to remember, to know who we and other people are Self-Schemas - Self-Schemas – Cognitive structures, derived from past experience, that represent a person’s beliefs and feelings about the self in particular domains - These beliefs and feelings are based on our experiences in situations where conscientiousness was relevant, experiences are stored in memory as part of our conscientiousness self-schema - Self-schema of a person who views himself as very high (or low) in conscientiousness is likely to include more (or fewer) instances of past conscientious behavior, along with more elaborate beliefs about what it means to be high (or low) in conscientiousness - Schematic participants were able to make more confident predictions about their future independence- or dependence-related behaviors - Self-schemas help us remember information we encounter because information that is processed in reference to the self tends to be processed more deeply and integrated into our preexisting self-knowledge - Self-Reference Effect – The tendency for information that is related to the self to be more thoroughly processed and integrated with existing self-knowledge, thereby making it more memorable - To the extent that you personalize how you perceive and understand events and objects in the environment, you will be more likely to think about and remember that information Self-Complexity Theory - Most people possess numerous self-schemas corresponding to the most important components of themselves - Self-Complexity – The tendency to define the self in terms of multiple domains that are relatively distinct from one another in content Notes From Reading: C HAPTER 3:THE SOCIAL S ELF (64-105) - People who are high in self-complexity tend to define themselves in terms of multiple domains which are relatively nonoverlapping (or distinct) in content - People who are low in self-complexity posses fewer self-defining domains which are relatively overlapping in content - A person’s level of self-complexity can have important consequence, particularly when people are confronted with negative events or difficulties in a given life domain o High in self complexity: if you get a bad mark, it will affect yourself as a student o Low in self complexity: likely to lower your evaluations of yourself as a student and other overlapping identities Self-Esteem - People with low self-esteem are less satisfied with life, more hopeless, and more depressed, and they are less able to cope with life’s challenges o Tend to disengage from tasks following failure and more prone to antisocial behavior and delinquency Trait and State Self-Esteem - Self-Esteem – The positive or negative overall evaluation that each person has of himself or herself - People with high self-esteem feel quite good about themselves - People with low self-esteem feel ambivalent about themselves and tend to feel both good and bad about who they are - Trait self-esteem is a person’s enduring level of self-regard across time o People who report high trait self-esteem at one point in time tend to report high trait self-esteem many years later - State self-esteem refers to the dynamic, changeable self-evaluations that are experienced as momentary feelings about the self o Self-concept rises and falls according to transient moods and specific construal processes that arise in different situations - Self-esteem shifts during different stages of development o As males move from early adolescence (age 14) to early adulthood (age 23), self- esteem tends to rise (during the same period, self-esteem of females’ tend to fall) Contingencies of Self-Worth - Contingencies of Self-Worth – an account of self-esteem that maintains that self-esteem is contingent on successes and failures in domains on which a person has based his or her self-worth - Our self-esteem depends heavily on our contingencies of self-worth - If things are going well in domains that are important to us, our self-esteem tends to rise; but if things are going badly in these domains, our self-esteem often plummets - To the extent that people can create environments that allow them to excel in domains related to their specific contingencies of self-worth, they will enjoy elevated self-esteem - It is important for people to base their sense of self-worth on performance in many domains Social Acceptance and Self-Esteem - Sociometer
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