The Self (pg 125-151)
The Nature of the Self
• Self concept: the contents of the self; that is our knowledge about
who we are.
• Self awareness: the act of thinking about ourselves.
These two concepts combined create a coherent sense of
o Self concept clarity has important cognitive and emotional
Functions of the Self
• Self schemas: mental structures that help organize our knowledge
• Self-reference effect: the tendency for people to remember
information better if they related it to themselves.
• Integrating information with our self schemas helps us organize it
better and connect it to other information about ourselves, which makes us
more likely to remember it later.
• When people are motivated to see themselves as possessing a desire
quality or trait, they conduct a selective memory search for examples of past
behaviours consistent with that trait.
• The self also serves an executive function, regulating people's
behaviour, choice, and plans for the future much like a CEO of a corporation.
• Self regulatory resource model: the idea that people have a limited
amount of energy to devote to self-control and that spending it on one task
limits the amount that can be spent on another task.
Cultural Difference in Defining the Self
• Independent view of the self: defining oneself in terms of one's own
internal thoughts, feelings, and actions and not in terms of the thoughts and
feelings and actions of others.
• Interdependent view of the self: defining oneself in terms of one's
relationships to other people; recognizing that one's behaviour if often
determined by the thoughts, feelings and actions of others.
o Connectedness and interdependence between people is valued,
whereas independence and uniqueness are frowned on.
• Differences in the sense of self are so fundamental that it is difficult for
people with independent selves to appreciate what it is like to have an
interdependent self, and vice versa.
Gender Differences in Defining the Self
• Women's self concept reflect more relational interdependence, and
they focus more on their close relationships (romantic partner, friend or child).
• Men tend to define themselves in terms of social groups (sport
teams)and this is known as collective interdependence. Knowing Ourselves through Introspection
• Introspection: the process whereby people look inward and examine
their own thoughts, feelings and motives.
o People do not rely on this source of information as often as you
Even when people do introspect, the reasons for their feelings
and behaviour can be hidden from conscious awareness.
Focusing on the Self: Self-Awareness Theory
• When we are focused on ourselves, we have a tendency to erroneously
assume that others also share this awareness.
• Self-awareness theory: the idea that when people focus their
attention on themselves, they evaluate and compare their behaviour with their
internal standards and values.
• Self awareness can have negative or positive effects. When self
awareness feels aversive, those bad feelings can be alleviated in either a
constructive or destructive manner. When it is positive, focusing on yourself can
be quiet enjoyable because it highlights your positive accomplishments.
Judging Why We Feel the Way we Do: Telling More than we can Know
• Even though we often don't know why we feel a certain way, it seems
we are always able to come up with an explanation. Richard Nisbett and Tim
Wilson refer to this as "telling more than we know" because people's
explanations of their feelings and behaviour often go beyond what they can
• Causal theories: theories about what influences their feelings and
behaviour, and often use these theories to help them explain why they feel the
way they do.
• Introspecting about our past actions and our current thoughts does not
always yield the right answer about why we feel the way we do.
Knowing Ourselves By Observing Our Own Behaviour
Self perception theory: argues that when our attitudes and feelings
are uncertain or ambiguous, we infer these states by observing our behaviour
and the situation in which it occurs.
o We infer our inner feelings from our behaviour only when we are
not sure how we feel.
o Claims that people evaluate whether their behaviour really
reflects how they feel or whether the situation they are in made them act
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
• Intrinsic motivation: the desire to engage in an activity because we
enjoy it or find it interesting not because of external rewards or pressures.
• Extrinsic motivation: the desire to engage in an activity because of
external rewards or pressures, not because we enjoy the task or find it
• The overjustification effect: the case whereby people view their
behaviour as caused by compelling extrinsic reasons, making them underestimate the extent to which their behaviour was caused by intrinsic
• Perserving intrinsic interest:
o Task-contingent rewards: rewards that are given for
performing a task, regardless of how well the task is done.
o Performance -contingent rewards: rewards given that are
based on how well we perform a task.
• This type of reward is less likely to decrease interest in a
task, and may even increase interest.
Knowing Ourselves through Social Interaction
• People are not solitary seekers of self-knowledge but social beings who
often see themselves through the eyes of other people.
Seeing ourselves through the eyes of others: The looking-glass self
• Looking- class self: the idea that