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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 Notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough

Chapter 6: Development of the Self and Social Cognition  Self: the combination of physical and psychological attributes that is unique to each individual.  Looking-Glass self: a person’s understanding of self is a reflection of how other people react to him.  Social cognition: thinking that people display about the thoughts, feelings, motives, and behaviours of themselves and other people. Development of the Self-Concept  Self-Concept: one’s perceptions of one’s unique combination of attributes. The Emerging Self: Differentiation, Discrimination and Self-Recognition  Many developmentalists believe that infants are born without a sense of self.  Proprioceptive feedback: sensory information from the muscles, tendons, and joints that helps one to locate the position of one’s body (or body parts) in space.  Personal agency: understanding that they are responsible for at least some of the events that so fascinate them.  Infants start to recognize that they and their companions are separate beings with different perspectives that can be shared. Self-Recognition  Self-recognition: the ability to recognize oneself in a mirror or a photograph, coupled with the conscious awareness that the mirror or photographic image is a representation of “me.”  Rouge test: test of self-recognition that involves marking a toddler’s face and observing his or her reaction to the mark when he or she is places before a mirror.  Present self: early self-representation in which 2- and 3-year-olds recognize current representations of self but are largely unaware that past self-representations or self- relevant events have implications for the future.  Extended self: more mature self-representation, emerging between ages 3.5 and 5 years, in which children are able to integrate past, present, and unknown future self- representations into a notion of a self that endures over time. Cognitive and Social Contributors to Self-Recognition  Although a certain level of cognitive development may be necessary for self-recognition, social experiences are probably of equal importance.  The term looking-glass self may apply to chimpanzees as well as to humans: reflections in a “social mirror” enable normal chimps to develop some self-awareness, where’s a chimpanzee that is denied these experiences will fail to acquire a clear self-image.  One social experience that contributes to self-awareness in humans is a secure attachment to a primary caregiver. Social and Emotional Consequences of Self-Recognition  2-year-old self-aware children readily partake in cooperative problem-solving activities with social patterns, whereas even mature chimpanzees show little interest in cooperative problem solving. Emergence of Categorical Self  Categorical self: a person’s classification of the self along socially significant dimensions such as age and sex. Who Am I? Responses of Preschool Children  Developmentalists claim that the self-concepts of preschool children are concrete, physicalistic, and nearly devoid of any psychological self-awareness.  According to Erikson, it is a healthy sign when preschool children largely define themselves in terms of their activities and physical capabilities, because an activity-based self-concept reflects the sense of initiative they will need in order to cope with the many new lessons they must learn at school. Evidence for an Early “Psychological” Self-Concept  Eder’s research implies that they have rudimentary psychological conceptions of self long before they can express this knowledge in trait-like terminology. Children’s Theory of Mind and Emergence of the Private Self  Public self: me, that others can see.  Private self: I, inner, reflective (thinking) character not directly available to others.  Theory of mind: an understanding that people have mental states, such as desires, beliefs, and intentions, that are not always shared with or accessible to others, and that often guide their behaviour. Early Understandings of Mental States  The first step toward acquiring a theory of mind is the realization that oneself and other humans are animate (rather than inanimate) objects whose behaviours reflect goals and intentions.  Joint attention: the act of attending to the same object at the same time as someone else; a way in which infants share experiences and intentions with their caregivers.  Desire theorists: an early theory of mind in which a person’s actions are thought to be a reflection of her desires rather than other mental states such as beliefs.  Belief-desire theory of mind: recognize that beliefs and desires are different mental states and that either or both can influence one’s conduct. Origins of a Belief-Desire Theory of Mind  Children don’t appreciate that beliefs are merely interpretations of reality that may differ from person to person and my be inaccurate.  False-belief task: method of assessing one’s understanding that people can hold inaccurate beliefs that can influence their conduct, wrong as these beliefs may be.  Young children who have mastered false-belief tasks do tend to display more advanced social skills and better social adjustment than age-mates who have not. How Does a Theory of Mind Originate?  Human infants may be just as biologically prepared and as motivated to acquire information about mental states as they are to share meaning through language.  Pretend-play and family discussions help theory of mind originate. Cultural Influences  So the appearance of a belief-desire theory of mind by age 4 is not universal and is likely to be delayed in cultures that lack the social supports for its emergence. Conceptions of Self in Middle Childhood and Adolescence  Once children develop a theory of mind and clearly differentiate their public and private selves, their self-descriptions very gradually evolve from listings of their physical, behavioural, and other “external” attributes to sketches of their enduring inner qualities— that is, their traits, values, beliefs and ideologies. The Self in Adolescence  Inconsistencies in self-portrayals are fairly typical of adolescents who are becoming much more aware that they may not be the same person in all situations—a fact that may puzzle or even annoy them.  False-self behaviours: acting in ways that do not reflect one’s true self or the “true me.”  One’s self-concept becomes more psychological, more abstract, and more of a coherent, integrated self-portrait from childhood throughout adolescence. Self-Esteem: The Evaluative Component of Self  Self-esteem: one’s evaluation of one’s worth as a person based on an assessment of the qualities that make up the self-concept. Origins of Self-Esteem  By age 4 and 5, children have already established an early and meaningful sense of self- esteem—one that is influenced by their attachment history and is a reasonably accurate reflection of how teachers evaluate their competencies. Components of Self-Esteem in Childhood  Self-Perception Scale for Children on which they evaluate themselves in five domains: scholastic competence, social acceptance, physical appearance, athletic competence, and behavioral conduct. They also indicate their overall feelings of self-worth, or global self- esteem. They make these assessments by indicating whether statements pertinent to each competency domain (and global self-worth) are true or not true of themselves.  Both self-knowledge and self-esteem may depend to a large extent on the way others perceive and react to our behaviour.  Older children’s feelings of self-esteem depend both on how they think others evaluate them and on how they choose to evaluate themselves. Self-Esteem in Adolescence  Relational self-worth: feelings of self-worth within a particular relationship context (for example, with parents, with male classmates); m
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