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Chapter 5

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Connie Boudens

Personality Psychology – Foundations and Findings Chapter 5 – Self and Identity Self-Concept - Self-concept: the set of ideas and inferences that you hold about yourself, including your traits, social roles, schemas, and relationships - How Does the Self-Concept Develop? o We aren’t born with a self, we develop a sense of self out of physical development and cognitive maturation along with social experiences o Chimpanzees and Self-Recognition  Gordon Gallup, 1977 – put a full-length mirror in a room with a chimpanzee to see its response  At first, the chimp responded as those the reflection was another chimp, but later started responding to the mirror with self-directed responses, and after about 10 days, the chimp adapted to the presence of the mirror, at which point it was removed  Red paint was placed on the eyebrow ridge of the chimp and the mirror returned, the chimp spent more than 25% more time touching itself, twice as much time touching eyebrows than ears  Suggesting that self-recognition must have been learned during the earlier experience with the mirror  Chimps who are taken from their mothers at birth and raised in isolation are unable to recognize themselves, never adapt to reflection in mirror  When marked with red paint, they show no change in viewing time, suggesting that they do not know it is them in the mirror o Who is that Baby in the Mirror?  Self-recognition is one step towards self-concept development  Table 5.1  Birth to 1 year – developing sense of awareness, once children know that they are a physical being separate from other people and objects, they start to find out more about themselves  In the rouge test, on average, infants can recognize themselves in a mirror by 18 months  25% of infants tested could recognize themselves as early as 9-12 months  75% of infants could recognize themselves by 21-25 months  2-3 years – recognize selves in mirror and in picture  Beginnings of self-esteem are seen  Know certain facts about themselves  3-4 years – self-concepts reflect their developing skills and abilities, physical attributes, preferences and possessions o The Developing Self in School  5-12 years – further development of their own abilities and becoming acutely aware of other children; gain a sense of their own abilities compared to other children  Start to develop a private sense of self as they recognize there are parts of themselves that others cannot see o Adolescence and the Looking Glass Self  Self-concepts have become more abstract; incorporate motivations, beliefs, personality characteristics  15-16 years – sensitive to how they are perceived and judged by others  Experience objective self-awareness: seeing themselves as the object of others’ attention  Reflected appraisals – use views of significant others to form the basis of their own self-views that are internalized  Looking glass self – seeing ourselves as others see us; forms the basis of the adolescent’s self-esteem  An identity is socially defined, includes definitions and standards that are imposed on us by others  People have identities from birth, but they may not be aware of their import until the teen years  Many believe that an identity crisis is inevitable, universal, and normal in adolescence, but this is not supported o Our Grown-up Selves  Self-concept comes from within and identity comes from others  Social identities are a part of one’s self-concept (i.e. “mother”, “doctor”)  Depending on the culture we live in, and our own characteristics, we may have an easier or harder time embracing our identity  We might have certain ethnic, racial, gender, class, or sexual identities that may be at odds with the dominant culture  People who are made aware of that they are a part of a stereotyped group may not perform up to their potential because of stereotype threat  Stereotype threat: when a person experiences distress when faced with a stereotype that threatens their self-esteem or social identity - Impact of Culture on Self-Concepts o We develop our self-concept, self-esteem and social identity through social comparison with others, the reflected appraisals of others, and our own self-appraisals o Who we are depends a lot on the culture we were born into o Chinese students – more likely to describe themselves in social ways, American students – more likely to describe themselves in attributive ways o Individualism and Collectivism  Individualism – focuses on the uniqueness of the individual and distinguishes the person as separate from the group  Individualistic cultures place a value on bravery, creativity, and self- reliance  Collectivism – place greater emphasis on the views, needs, and goals of the group rather than the individual  Extreme: one’s beliefs, goals, attitudes, and values reflect those of the group  Collectivistic cultures value obligation, duty, security, tradition, dependence, harmony, obedience to authority, equilibrium, and proper action  Every culture has both individualistic and collectivistic components, but they differ in the extent to which the emphasize one state over the other  Approx. 80% of the world’s cultures live in collectivistic cultures  Cultural complexity pushes a culture toward individualism  Geographic distance between members of a culture forces them to make individual choices, fostering individualism into the culture o Independent and Interdependent Selves  In individualistic cultures, people develop an independent view of the self, which exists apart from other people, is self-contained  People are their truest selves when alone, apart from the influence of others  In collectivistic cultures, people develop an interdependent view of the self, which includes others  People cannot be understood when separated from their social group, they are not truly themselves without others  Neither individualism or collectivism is better than the other as well-being and self-esteem come from attaining culturally valued outcomes  Cannot assume we know a person’s self-view based on their culture; they can define themselves as inter/independent regardless of culture - Possible Selves o Possible selves – what we hope, fear, or expect to come in the future  Help us choose our aspirations, maintain motivation, provide continuity in our self-concepts  Help us make sense of current experiences o Hoped-for selves – what we would like to become o Feared selves – what we do not want to become o Positive Possible Selves  Immediate social context greatly influences our possible selves  Possible selves can change what we think we want in a future mate  Study with gay men, lesbians imagining their possible straight and homosexual future selves  the more people invested in their best possible gay/lesbian self (i.e. being out to more people), the less distress participants felt o Negative Possible Selves  Oyserman and Markus, 1990 - Teens who had a balance of positive and negative selves committed fewer and less serious crimes than youths with more negative or more positive selves  For positive selves to have the greatest impact on motivation and long- term b
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