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Chapter 3-5

PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3-5: Hazel Rose Markus, Prefrontal Cortex, Trait Theory

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Inbar Yoel

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Textbook Notes PSYB10 Lec #2
Chapter #3 & 5
Chapter # 3- The Soial Self
The Nature of the Social Self
- The social psychological study of the self usually begins with William James.
o James coined the term the social me to refer to the parts of self-knowledge that
are derived from social relationships.
o the self is not something to be distinguished from the social world, but rather
that it’s a soial etit though ad though.
- Dan McAdams (2008) even proposes that people often go beyond such basic
introspective efforts to weave full-fledged stories about themselves, what he refers to
as the narrated self
o MAdas’ etal lai is that e ae otiuall tellig a sto aout ouseles
as we live our lives.
The Accuracy of Self-Knowledge
- Sometimes we lack self-insight because of strong motives; there are certain things many
of us would rather not know about ourselves.
- But much of the time, introspection leads to inaccurate conclusions about the self
sipl eause e do’t hae aess to etai etal poesses, suh as those that
lead us to pefe, sa, ojets plaed i the ightost positio of a aa o that e’e
seen last
- Recent research suggests that other people can be good sources of knowledge about
o Vazire and Mehl (2008) asked participants to rate how accurate they think
people are at assessing how much they themselves perform 25 different
behaviors (e.g., reading, singing, watching TV). The researchers also asked
participants how accurate they think people are at predicting how often other
people they know well perform the same types of behaviors. For every single
behavior, the participants rated the accuracy of self-predictions to be greater
than the accuracy of predictions about the behavior of othersagain, reflecting
a widespread assumption that each person is the best expert on himself or
o Vazire and her colleagues argue that there are certain aspects of a person that
are uniquely known to the self and certain aspects that are uniquely known to
o The Vazire researchers further point out that motivational forces can also be at
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Textbook Notes PSYB10 Lec #2
Chapter #3 & 5
The Organization of Self-Knowledge
- Social psychologists assume that self-knowledge is stored in memory in cognitive
structures known as self-schemas.
- Self-schema: A cognitive structure, derived from past experience, that represents a
perso’s eliefs ad feeligs aout the self i geeral ad i speifi situatios.
- Like the schemas we have about personality traits, other people, situations, and objects,
the schemas we have about ourselves serve as more than simple storehouses of self-
- They also perform an organizing function, by helping us navigate, and make sense of, all
the information that bombards us every day.
- Hazel Markus (1977) hypothesized that if self-schemas exist, then a person who has a
self-schema in a particular domain (a self-schema about extraversion or intellectual
curiosity, perhaps) should process information in that domain more quickly, retrieve
evidence consistent with the self-schema more rapidly, and readily reject information
that contradicts the self-schema.
o To test these hypotheses, Markus first identified participants who labeled
themselves as either quite dependent or quite independent. These participants
she alled sheati fo the diesio of depedee.
o “he also idetified asheati patiipats: those ho ated theseles
moderately on the independent-dependent dimension, and for whom neither
dependence nor independence was important to their self-definition.
o Several weeks later, the participants rated how well a series of traits presented
on a computer screen described them.
o The schematic participants judged schema-relevant traits as true or not true of
themselves much more quickly than aschematic participants, suggesting that
people are particularly attuned to information that maps onto a self-schema.
o The schematic participants were also able to generate many more behaviors
consistent with the schema-relevant traits, suggesting that past actions and
experiences supporting the self-schema are abundant in memory and come
readily to mind.
o Finally, the schematic participants were more likely to refute feedback from a
personality test that contradicted their self-schemas, such as independent
participants being told they were actually dependent.
Looking back
The notion that the self is fundamentally social has long been recognized. As the immediate or
broader social context shifts, so too may the nature of the self. Self-knowledge is derived in
part from introspection, but this knowledge can be subject to construal processes, is limited by
what people have introspective access to, and can be distorted by motivational forces. Self-
knowledge is stored in memory in cognitive structures known as self-schemas.
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Textbook Notes PSYB10 Lec #2
Chapter #3 & 5
Origins of the Sense of Self
Family and Other Socialization Agents
- We learn what attitudes and behaviors are socially appropriate from parents, siblings,
teachers, peers, and other socialization agents.
- Socialization agents can also shape our sense of self.
- By encouraging certain behaviors and providing opportunities for particular activities,
socialization agents can influence the personality traits, abilities, and preferences we
come to think of as our own.
- Another way that family and other socialization agents shape the self is captured by the
notion that we come to know ourselves by imagining what others think of us.
o The soiologist Chales H. Coole 9 oied the phase lookig-glass self,
efeig to the idea that othe people’s eactions to us serve as a mirror of
- Reflected self-appraisal: A elief aout hat others thik of oe’s self.
o For example, your parents praise your accomplishments; a romantic partner
makes light of your fears; a teacher assigns you a challenging task; your peers
laugh heartily at your jokes.
o the key concept here is that we internalize how we think others perceive us, not
necessarily how they actually see us. In fact, our reflected self-appraisals often
do’t oelate highl ith the a othe people evaluate us
- Jennifer Pfeifer and her colleagues explored a novel way to examine whether reflected
appraisals influence self-views, or vice versa.
o She looked at the neural systems that are engaged when people think about and
report on their self-views versus their reflected self-appraisals
o Research suggests that activity in certain areas of the brain, including the medial
prefrontal cortex, is heightened when we think about the self, as when someone
asks us to think about who we are
Siblings and the Social Self
- Sulloway has looked at sibling dynamics from an evolutionary perspective and arrived at
a o-to-eel hpothesis.
- Throughout most of development, older siblings are larger and more powerful and often
act as surrogate parents.
- younger siblings, ith the estalishet ihe alead oupied  thei olde silig,
develop in ways that make them inclined to challenge the family status quo.
- This social self emerges as younger siblings learn to coexist with their more dominant
older siblings (which accounts for their elevated agreeableness), and as they find
imaginative ways to carve out their own niche in the world (which accounts for their
increased openness to experience)
Situationsim and the Social Self
- This notion that the social self changes across different contexts is consistent with the
principle of situationism, ad it’s suppoted  audat epiial eidee.
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