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Chapter 3

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Connie Boudens

PSYB10 Chapter 3 Chapter 3 The Social Self The Self Concept  Self-concept: The sum total of an individual’s beliefs about his or her won personal attributes o Made up of cognitive molecules called self-schemas  Self-schemas: A belief people hold about themselves that guides the processing of self-relevant information o Self – schemas are to an individual’s total self-concept what hypothesis are to a theory  Aschematic Elements of the Self-Concept Is the Self Represented in the Brain?  Our sense of identity is biologically rooted  Some argue that synaptic connection within the brain provide biological base for memory  Self can be transformed or even completely destroyed by severe head injuries, brain tumors, diseases and exposure to toxic substance that damage brain and nervous system  Social neuroscientists use PET and fMRI scans to capture brain in action o Some areas of the brain are activated when we see a pic of ourselves or have to judge others Do Non-Human Animals Show Self-Recognition  Only humans and other apes/primates are capable of self-recognition  Studies saw at first animals treated reflection as a different animals but then started using the mirror to examine themselves  Red – dot test  Recent research shows that certain intelligent non-primates can also recognize themselves o Bottlenose dolphins and black spot o Elephants looked at their mouth What makes the Self a Social Concept?  Ability to see yourself as a distinct entity is a necessary first step in the evolution and development of a self-concept  Second step involves social factors  Looking-glass self: suggest that other people serve as a mirror in which we see ourselves  We often come to know ourselves by imagining what significant others think of us and then incorporating these perceptions in our self-concepts  We draw our sense of who we are from our past and current relationships with the significant others in our lives  Our self-concepts match our perception of what others think of us o However what we think of ourselves does not always match what others think of us LECTURE 7 – PAGE 58-67 Autobiographical Memories  Without autobiographical memories – recollections of the sequences of events that have touched your life – you would have no self concept  When people have to recall their own experiences, they typically report more events from the recent than from the distant past  Two exceptions to this rule ^ o Older adults retrieve more personal memories from adolescence and early adult years  “Reminiscence bump” o People tend to remember transitional “firsts”  Surprising, unexpected events are most likely remembered  Flashbulb memories: describe enduring, detailed, recollections o Theory that these memories have survival purpsoes  People are often motivated to distort the past in ways that are self-inflated  Mead believed that our visions of the past are like “escape fantasies” o Not necessarily PSYB10 Chapter 3 Culture and the Self-Concept  Different cultures raise their children differently (some cultures are looking for confident, others look for humility)  Two contrasting cultural orientations o Individualism: virtues of independence, autonomy, self-reliance  Personal goals > team allegiance o Collectivism: virtues of independence, cooperation, social harmony  Person is most importantly a loyal member of family, team, company, church state etc.  Within difference countries that support one orientation there can be different variations or even individual groups with the opposite orientation  These orientations are so deeply ingrained in a culture that they molds our very self-conceptions and identities  Cultural orientations can influence the way we perceive, evaluate and present ourselves in relation t others  Dialecticism: An Eastern system of thought that accepts the existence of contradictory characteristics within a single person Self-Esteem  Self-esteem: An effective component of the self, consisting of a person’s positive and negative self- evaluations  The amount of self-esteem we have has a profound impact on the way we think and feel about ourselves  Self-worth and self-esteem are not etched in stone o They vary in response to socialexperiences  Self-concept is made of different schemas so we view different parts of the self differently o Some are more favorable, or important o Others we would like to change  Self-esteem is a trait that is stable from childhood to old age o Yet for some people, self-esteem seems to fluctuate up and down n response to daily experiences The Need for Self-Esteem  Our desire for self-esteem is driven by this more primitive need to connect with others and gain their approval o Threat of social rejection thus lowers self-esteem which activates the need to regain approval and acceptance  We are scared of death so we accept cultural worldviews about creation of world o Helps s deal with anxiety  Satisfying our need for self-esteem is critical to our entire outlook on life o Those with higher self-esteem are happier, healthier, more productive and successful o Confident in bringing new challenges o Sleep better at night, face peerpressure better  Low self-esteem o Prone to failure o More depressed, pessimistic about future o Lack confidence and don’t trust other’s compliments o When they fail blame themselves making them feel less competent  Debate as to whether high self-esteem ensures desirable life outcomes  Research shows that in trying to boost and maintain their self-esttem people often become anxious and avoid activities that risk failure and neglect needs of others o Suffer from stress-related health problems Are There Gender and Race Differences?  Social and cultural groups differ in their self-esteem o Brought up differently with different values  No difference with gender but they may experience higher levels of self esteem at different times  Studies have been done to see if being part of a minority group decreases a person’s self-esteem b/c they associate themselves with the negative attributes of their group PSYB10 Chapter 3 o Can also work in the positive way too Culture and Self-Esteem  Variations in self-esteem have also been observed among people from different parts of the world  The different cultural orientations we have somewhat affect our self-esteem  People from individualist and collectivist cultures are similarly motivated to think highly of themselves are similarly motivated to think highly of themselves o Need for people to see themselves in a positive light is universal/pancultural  Cultural differences influence how we seek to fulfill that need: individualists present themselves as unique and self-confident, collectivist presents themselves as modest and equal members of a group. Self-Discrepancy Theory  Our self-esteem is defined by the match or mismatch between how we see ourselves and how we want to see ourselves  The more we fall short on what we want to be and what we are, the less our self-esteem is  If there is discrepancy between your actual and ought selves – feelings of guilt, ashamed, resent o Excessive fears and anxiety disorders  If there is discrepancy between actual and ideal selves – disappointed, frustrated, unfulfilled and sad o Depressed  Our self-discrepancies may even set into motion a self-perpetuating process  Self-esteem depends on a number of processes o Amount of discrepancy o Importance of discrepancy to the self o Extend to which we focus on our self-discrepancies The Self-Awareness “Trap” Self-Focusing Situations  People may be unhappy while they think about themselves is interesting o Does that mean that self-awareness is unpleasant  Self-awareness theory: The theory that self-focused attention leads people to notice self- discrepancies theory motivating either an escape from self-awareness or a change in behavior o People are not usually self-focused, but certain situations predictably force us to turn inward and become the objects of our own attentions o When we are self-aware we compare ourselves to some standard o Comparison results in a negative discrepancy and a temporary reduction in self-esteem  The more self-focused people are in general, the more likely they are to find themselves in a bad mood/depressed  People who are self-absorbed are more likely to suffer alcoholism, anxiety and other clinical disorders  Two ways to deal with this o “Shape up” by behaving in ways that reduce our self-discrepancies o “Ship out” by drawing away from self-awareness  When people are self-focused they tend to behave in ways consistent either with their own personal values or with socially accepted ideals  Self-awareness theory states that if a successful reduction of self-discrepancy seems unlikely, individuals will escape from self-awareness o Drug abuse, sexual masochism, spiritual ecstasy, binge eating, suicide, television  Lots of studies behind drinking to take away “the sorrows” people experience with low self-esteem o Do not grant relief, just temporary o Leads to greater problems Self-Focusing Persons  Just as situations evoke a state of self-awareness, certain individuals are characteristically more self – focused than others  Private self-consciousness: A personality characteristic of individuals
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