Self-knowledge and the Need to maintain Self-Esteem
Williams James described the basic duality of our perception of self:
1) the self is composed of one’s thoughts and beliefs about oneself
2) The self is also the active processor of information, the “knower” or the “I”.
- The contents of oneself: that is, our knowledge about who we are.
- Which is the act of thinking about ourselves.
These two concepts of the self concept and self awareness combine to create a
coherent sense of identity.
-People who are low on self concept clarity are more likely to be neurotic and have low
self-esteem, and are less likely to be aware of their internal states. They are less likely to
engage in positive forms of self focus such as reflection.
-Self concepts in humans develop around age 2-3 years (using the mirror rough test)
- Mental structures that help us to organize our knowledge about ourselves and that
influence what we notice, think about, and remember about ourselves.
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, feelings and actions of other people.
- Independence and uniqueness is encouraged.
Interdependent view of the self
- Defining oneself in terms of one’s relationships to other people; recognizing that
one’s behaviour is often determined by the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others.
- Independence and uniqueness are frowned upon whereas interdependence and
connectedness are encouraged.
- This view of the self occurs in many Asian cultures and non westernized countries.
Culture and gender also play a role in how people define themselves.
Introspection - The process whereby people look inward and examine their own thoughts, feelings,
- Two interesting things about introspection: 1) people do not reply on this source of
information as often as you might think. People spend very little time thinking
about themselves. 2) Even when people do introspect, the reasons for their feelings
and behaviour can be hidden from conscious awareness.
-When we are focused on our self, we have a tendency to erroneously assume that others
also share this awareness.
- The idea that when people focus their attention on themselves, they evaluate and
compare their behaviour with their internal standards and values.
- We become self-conscious, in the sense that we become objective, judgmental
observers of ourselves.
- Self-awareness makes us conscious of our internal standards and directs our
- Self-focus can also be a way of keeping you out of trouble, by reminding you of
your sense of right and wrong. Several studies have found that when people are
self-aware (ex. In front of a mirror), they are more likely to follow their moral
standards, such as avoiding the temptation to cheat on a test.
- Self awareness can have negative and positive effects, and in those cases were self-
awareness feels aversive, those bad feelings can be alleviated in either a
constructive or deconstructive manner.
- Theories about the causes of one’s own feelings and behaviours: typically, we learn
such theories from our culture.
- The theory that when our attitudes and feelings are uncertain or ambiguous, we
infer these states by observing our behavior and the situation in which it occurs.
- We infer our inner feelings form our behavior only when we are not sure how we
feel. Ex, if you are unsure if you’re a classical music lover.
- Self perception theory also claims that people evaluate whehther their behaviour
really reflects how they feel or whether the situation they are in made them act that
- The desire to engage in an activity because we enjoy it or find it interesting, not
because of external rewards or pressures.
- Found that intrinsic motivation is correlated with persistence.
Extrinsic Motivation - The desire to enga