Chapter 5: Self and Personality
Who am I?
- The nature of ourselves strongly influences the ways we perceive and
interact with our social worlds.
- We might appear highly similar across experiences in two diverse cultural
worlds and vary only in terms of the content of things that we would be
- Twenty-Statements Test: an experiment wherein participants complete the
statement I am twenty times.
The most popular kinds of self-descriptions for Americans were
personal characteristics such as their traits, attitudes and abilities
(Canadians and British).
The statements made by a non-Westernized group reflected their
social identity such as their roles and memberships (Chinese,
Japanese, Indians and Puerto Ricans).
Independent V.S. Interdependent Views of Self
- Independent view of self: the self can be thought to derive its identity from
These reflect the essence of the individual in that they are the basis of
the individuals identity and distinct from their relationships.
They are viewed as stable across situations and across the lifespan
and are perceived to be unique.
They are viewed as significant for regulating behaviour and individuals
feel an obligation to publicly advertise themselves in ways consistent
with these attributes.
- Interdependent view of self: the self can be viewed as a relational entity
that is fundamentally connected to and sustained by a number of
They consider their behaviours will affect others and they must
organize their own psychological experiences in response to what
others are apparently doing.
Individuals are not perceived as separate and distinct entities but as
participants in a larger social unit.
Their experience of identity is reflexive in that it is contingent on their
position relative to others and their relationships with those others.
- Our self-concepts organize the information that we have about ourselves,
they influence how we will appraise situations and they direct our
attention to information viewed to be relevant.
Individualism and Collectivism
- Individualistic cultures are more likely to elaborate on independent
aspects of themselves and they come to feel distinct from others and
emphasize the importance of being self-sufficient.
- Collectivistic cultures are more likely to attend to interdependent aspects
1 of their self-concepts, such as their close relationships and group
- Although interdependent selves appear to be more common throughout
the world, most research in psychology has emerged in cultures where
independent selves predominate.
- People cannot be categorized so clearly into discrete categories; rather,
the experience of self appears to track a continuum (on average, people in
a culture are more individualistic or collectivistic).
Situations that highlight independent aspects of the self will be more
frequently encountered when participating in an individualistic culture
in which cultural practices emphasize personal goals over collective
Situations that facilitate interdependent aspects of the self are more
frequently encountered when individuals participate in collectivistic
All cultures are highly heterogeneous and contain a great variety of
Gender and Culture
- Women are apparently more interdependent than men only with respect
to their attention to others feelings and concerns; they do not appear to
be different on other factors associated with individualism/collectivism.
- On average, the male stereotypical traits were viewed as more admirable
than female ones.
- Across cultures, male stereotypes were perceived to be considerably more
active than female ones.
- In all cultures, male stereotypes were more associated with perceptions of
strength than female ones.
- Although there are some similarities in how men and women are
perceived across the world, there are marked differences in the equality of
the opportunities that men and women have.
- Countries in which a large percentage of the population practiced
Christianity were more likely to have egalitarian gender views whereas
countries with large percentage of Muslims were associated with more
traditional gender views.
- The more Northern countries express more egalitarian view and more
Southern countries express more traditional gender views.
- The more urbanized the country, the more likely people were to have
- Americans view male identity to be less changeable and thus more
(Do not find anything unusual for women to present themselves like
men but find it disturbing for men to play with dolls or men taking
- When females are viewed as more powerful, they also have more
essentialized identities whereas the reverse holds true where males are
2 viewed more powerful.
Some Other Ways that Cultures Differ In the Self-Concept
- Self-Consistency: how we think and behave across different situations
(consistent or not).
The general positivity of Japanese individuals attitudes toward
themselves appears to vary depending on who is in the room with
them (low if with authority and high when alone).
Cognitive Dissonance: we have a powerful motivation to be consistent
and that cognitive dissonance is the distressing feeling we have when
we observe ourselves acting inconsistently.
The bigger the change in their preferences, the more people are
rationalizing their decisions (UBC or UofT choose UofT and
would rationalize decision in favour of UofT)
East Asians will rationalize decisions that they make for others,
which suggests a motivation to have their behaviours consistent
with others expectations.
North Americans appear to aspire for consistency within
Fundraisers take advantage of this saying that you have donated
before or your friend has donated before.
Subjective self-awareness: when individuals are considerstg
themselves from the perspective of the subject (1 person viewing).
Peoples concerns are with the world outside themselves and they
are largely unaware of themselves as individuals.
Objective self-awareness: when individuals consider how they appear
to others and they are experiencing themselves as an object
(watching from an audience).
Peoples concerns are directed specifically at themselves, they are
conscious of being evaluated and are likely to consider how they
are faring by comparing themselves to a set of standards.
People are more likely to be aware of falling short of standards when
they are in a state of objective self-awareness and they become more
American are more self-critical when they are in front of a mirror than
when they are not (because they have a more subjective self-
awareness; mirror has an effect) and Japanese self-evaluations are
unaffected by the presence of a mirror (because they have a more
objective self-awareness to begin with; mirror has no effect)
Japanese present themselves as though to an evaluating audience, as
evidenced in photographs they are taking, neat and presentable, while
Americans are present themselves from the perspective of the
individual, spontaneous and messy.
3 Implicit Theories Regarding the Nature of the Self
- Implicit theories guide our interpretation of much of what happens in the
world (beliefs that people simply have like knowing not to walk alone in a
- Incremental Theory of Self: the belief that we can easily change and are
expected to change.
People respond to failures by focusing on their efforts and the
strategies they utilized.
- Entity Theory of Self: the belief that aspects of the self are largely
resistant to change.
People respond to failures by blaming their static intellectual ability
(inborn and cant do anything about it).
- North Americans are less likely to hold an incremental view than people
from Asian cultures.
- The different ways that we educate people shape the theories that people
hold about the nature of intelligence and the theories that we have shape
the decisions that our school makes for educating people (incremental =
entrance exams and entity = IQ and SAT tests).
- If youre part of a stable network of relationships, your collective identity is
especially important to you and if you move around so that your network
of relationships become less stable, your identity becomes more based on
the traits that you carry with you (could explain why Americans develop
- Across cultures and history, people have come up with a remarkably
diverse array of ways for explaining peoples personalities (Japanese
would associate it with blood types).
- Five Factor Model of Personality: there are five underlying personality
Openness to Experience: reflects a persons intelligence and curiosity
about the world.
Conscientiousness: how responsible and dependable an individual is.
Extraversion: how much an individual is active or dominant.
Agreeableness: the extent to which a person tend