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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 - Self and Others

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Marc A Fournier

CHAPTER 8 - SELF AND OTHERS: SOCIAL COGNITIVE ASPECTS OF PERSONALITY Social cognitive approaches to personality psychology begin with the assumption that human beings are complex information-processing systems that operate in social environments Social-cognitive approaches to personality focus on how people make and use mental representations of themselves, of others, and of their social worlds and how those representations are implicated in social behavior Cognition influences social behavior and social behavior influences cognition An essential domain of psychological individuality is the social-cognitive representations that people create The Psychology of Personal Constructs George Kellys Theory Fundamental principle of motivation Person is motivated to predict or anticipate what will happen to him of her According to Kelly each of us classifies his or her world by developing personal constructs which are characteristic ways of construing how come things are alike and some things are different from one another Every construct is bipolar, specifying how 2 things are similar to each other and different from a third thing Each person develops his or her own construct system that contains a large number of constructs organized into a hierarchy (organization corollary); within any construct system certain constructs are superordinal and others are subordinal Every persons construct system is unique (individuality corollary) To know another persons construct system is to see the world through their eyes (sociality corollary) Particular constructs differ from one another with respect to their range of convenience (range corollary) Constructs are more like hypotheses to be tested than like assumed facts Anticipations guide behavior and experience A persons processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he/she anticipates events Some constructs are highly permeable whereas others are not (modulation corollary) A permeable construct is open to modification and introduction of new elements o Open minded person Complete permeability is not altogether good because the construct is so permeable that it changes with every relevant happening In Kellys cognitive view, the unconscious is those constructs that are nonverbal, submerged, or suspended; for some constructs we are unable to assign a name thus we may not be aware of them; other constructs are submerged beneath other constructs or suspended from the construct system because they do not seem to fit o A highly fragmented construct system is likely to contain submerged or suspended constructs of which the person is not aware; yet the unconscious constructs continue to channelize behavior and experiences Kelly views anxiety as the recognition that the events with which one is confronted lie outside the range of convenience of ones construct system o When we confront inexplicable events in the world for which our construct system does not seem to be prepared, we experience anxiety o Anxiety is the fear of the unknown o Guilt is the perception of ones apparent dislodgment from his core role structure o Core role structure is the construction a person has of who he or she is in relation to significant people, such as parents Exploring Personal Constructs: The Rep Test Role Construct Repertory Test (Rep Test) is a personality assessment procedure designed by Kelly to explore personal constructs in peoples lives The Rep Test is a flexible procedure and used in clinical work and in research Kelly defined a role as an understanding or expectation of what particular people in a persons life do Procedures have been developed for quantifying results from the Rep Test for personality research Cognitive complexity is revealed by this test People who use many different kinds of constructs are said to manifest higher levels of cognitive complexity; they view the world in a highly differentiated manner People who have similar construct systems tend to become close friends and remain friends for longer periods of time Cognitive Styles and Personality Kelly viewed the person to be like a scientist, continually categorizing experience and testing out hypotheses as he/she anticipates and reacts to events in the world People differ from one another in the manner in which they construe events Cognitive styles are peoples characteristic and typically preferred modes of processing information Cognitive styles are not the same as cognitive abilities o Cognitive abilities assess how well a person performs on cognitive tasks while cognitive styles tap instead into a persons characteristic way or manner of processing information Cognitive style is partly captured in a Big Five Trait taxonomy through the trait cluster of Openness to Experience (O) o People high in O tend to process information in a more nuanced, differentiated and abstract manner while those low in O see fewer distinctions and adhere to concrete and clearly defined categories Two dimensions of cognitive style that have received a great deal of attention from personality psychologists o Field independence-dependence o Integrative complexity Field Independence-Dependence The people who make their perception and judgment of perpendicularity and depend on the field or environment show a field-dependent style The people who make their perception and judgment according to inner cues show a field-independent style The dimension has two poles o At one extreme, highly field-independent people process information in an especially analytical and differentiated style. They rely on internal frames of reference that enable them to act upon information in a highly autonomous fashion o At the other extreme, highly field-dependent people employ external frames of reference available in the field. They tend to base their perceptions on the external context within which they occur. Neither continuum is better than the other. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of the field independence-dependence continuum Field-independent people are adept at pulling information out of an embedding context o a good example of this is identifying camouflaged figures, as assessed on the Embedded Figures Test people who are field-independent restructure the perceptual field so that they perform quite well in camouflage tasks field independence is associated with greater levels of perceptual and cognitive restructuring o people tend to reshape info from the environment according to internalized plans, rules, and goals to a greater extent than do people who are field dependent o they view info in the nonsocial world in a highly differentiated manner field independent students solved anagrams more quickly and found the task easier than did field dependent students field independence predicts the ability to block out irrelevant info and focus attention on central tasks and stimuli in the complex learning situations field independent person approaches the world as a hypothesis-tester people who are field independent are drawn to careers such as careers in science, math, management, and mechanics field dependent people are more global and intuitive in processing info about the world o they are more interested in humanitarian and social-welfare professions such as careers in ministry, social work, teaching young children, the social sciences, and selling and advertising cognitive style appears to have significant influences on interpersonal functioning field dependent person is more sensitive to social context than the field independent person
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