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Chapter 5

PSY220H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Who I Am (Abraham Mateo Album), Social Comparison Theory, Personal Identity


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY220H1
Professor
Heather V.Fritzley
Chapter
5

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PSY220: Chapter 5 The Self (Lecture 4)
THINKING ABOUT THE SELF
Personal-social identity continuum: the two distinct ways that the self can be categorized.
At the personal levelthe self is thought of as a unique individual
At the social identity levelthe self is thought of as a member of a specific social group
Self-concept: an individual’s knowledge about who she or he is.
We do not experience all aspects of this at the same time
Salience of the identity at the time will influence how we think about ourselves to affect our behaviour
Intragroup comparisons: judgements that result from comparisons between individuals who are
members of the same group
Personal identity self-descriptions can be thought of as intragroup in nature it depends on
which group you compare yourself to
Intergroup comparisons: judgements that result from comparisons between our group and another
group
Thinking of ourselves at the social identity levelattributes that members of our group shares,
and what differentiates ‘our group’ from other groups.
**When you think of yourself as an individual, the content of the self-descriptions is different when thinking of
yourself as a member of a category
When people face mixed evidence for a valued self-perception as a function of context or audience,
they can reduce importance of competence In a given domain, or decide that some references groups
are important for self-definition (and thus might be affected by their families’ perceptions of their
competence but not professors’, and etc)
WHO I AM DEPENDS ON THE SITUATION
People describe themselves differently depending on whether the question asked implies situational specificity
or not
Study by Mendoza-Denton (2001) Participants given one of two different types of sentence-
completion tasks
Open-ended prompts I am a(n) …. person for self-definition as an individual resulted in
responses that were trait-like or global
Prompt implying social settingsI am a(n) … when …’ results in responses more reliant on the
situation considered by the participant
Tendency to see self differentially increases with age
People with distinct aspects of the self are less responsive to threats to any given identity compared to
people with the same identities intertwined and not distinct
Self-complexity: how an individual’s self-concept is organized
Those with high self-complexity so that important aspects of the self are distinct, are less likely
to feel the overall self-affected by a failure in any one domain
Those with low self-complexity have more overlapping components of the self, and exhibit more
variability on how they feel about themselves
Identity Interference: occurs when two important social identities are perceived as being in conflict,
such that acting on the basis of one identity interferes with performing well based on the other
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Settles, Sellers & Damas (2002)student athletes who reported interference between athletic
and academic roles experienced more stress and were worse off in terms of overall well-being
compared to those that reported distinct roles
Aspects of the self-associated with a particular cultural tradition may be activated depending on subtle context
changes
Western culture emphasizes highly individualistic norms and an independent self-conceptthe
expectation is that people will develop a self-concept as separate from or independent of others (men
expected to have this over women)
Eastern cultures emphasize collectivistic norms and an interdependent self-conceptthe expectation
is that people will develop a self-concept in terms of their connections or relationships with others
(women expected to have this more than man)
**This is not to say that everyone from western and eastern cultures will have the same type of self-concepts
Within cultures, there will be individual differences and sometimes even group differences
E.g. in Canada where independent self-concepts are emphasized, Aboriginal people often display
collectivistic norms and interdependent self-concepts
This could be the reason behind the tension between aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures in Canada.
Kim and Markus (1999) showed Koreans and Americans abstract figures, composed of 9 different
parts and participants asked to say which parts they liked better
Koreans selected more of the figures where parts fit together, while Americans chose more of
the figures where some parts of the figure was distinctive
This could be due to the cultural self-concept or subtle aspects of context
Bicultural individuals (people to two different cultures) found to behave differently depending on
which identity is made salient, which ever context the individual finds themselves in
Ross et al (2002)Students divided into one of four groups: Chinese-born participating in
Chinese, Chinese-born participating in English, Canadian born of European descent, and
Canadian born of Chinese descent
When given an open-ended self-description (‘who am I’) Chinese-born writing in
Chinese provided more reference to culture, collect self-statements, and other people
In bicultural individuals, eastern and western identities may be stored in distinct
knowledge structures with language activating the appropriate structure
Context shifts also affect moral reasoningRyan, David and Reynolds (2004) people’s responses to
standard moral dilemma in which a person is in need depended on how they categorized themselves in
relation to that other person
What determines which aspect of the self is most salient at a moment?
When the participant categorized the person in need as a
university student and that person was thus seen as a
member of the participant’s category men and women
were equally likely to display care-oriented responses
When participants categorized themselves in terms of
gender, women displayed significantly more care-oriented
responses than men and men even reduced it compared
to the shared university-identity condition.
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1. One aspect of the self might be especially relevant to a particular context
2. Features of the context can make one aspect of the self highly distinctive
3. People may categorize themselves in terms of a particular personal trait or group identity + attributes
4. Other people (how they refer to us linguistically) can cue us to think of ourselves in personal vs. social
identity terms
Nouns suggest discrete categories triggers perceptions of members of those categories sharing a
nature, adjective or verbs reference differences between people, and elicit perceptions at personal
identity levels
WHO I AM DEPENDS ON OTHERS’ BELIEFS AND TREATMENT
We tend to incorporate other people’s judgements about us into our self-concept
Cooley’s looking-glass self: the tendency to incorporate other people’s judgements about us into our
self-concept (we see ourselves through the eyes of other people as though they are mirrors)
How we are treated by other people, or how we believe we will be treated by them in the future is
importantwhen we expect that others will reject us because of some aspect of ourselves we can:
Change the aspect of the self to avoid being rejected (if possible)
Change only that feature when we anticipate being in the presence of others who will reject it
Alter or hide the part of the self that brings rejection or rebel against those rejecting us and
making feature more self-defining
E.g. Jetten (2001) young people who elect to get body piercings in visible parts of the body except
ear lobe
Those with body piercings who were led to expect rejection from the mainstream because of
their piercings identified more strongly with other people who have body piercings than did
those who were led to expect acceptance
Expected rejection and devaluation on the part of the culture as a whole can result
in increasingly strong identification with a newly forming cultural group
‘Identity dilemma’ may be especially likely to occur when a person moves from one social context to
the next people often move away from the identity or move towards it
Ethier and Deaux (1994)students of a minority culture who emphasize their cultural identity and
take pride in the differences between them and peers of dominant culture may have higher self-
esteem and adjust better than those who abandon their cultural identity and conform to the dominant
Jean Phinney (1990)people with bicultural identities (ethnic and majority group) who affirm both
identities typically have very positive self-concepts and integrate more easily into dominant culture
COGNITIVE ORGANIZATION OF THE SELF: SELF-SCHEMAS
Schemas are mental frameworks that help us organize social information, and exert powerful effects on social
cognition
Self-schemas: mental frameworks that organize information, feelings, and beliefs about ourselves and
also frequently guide our behaviour
Self-reference effect: the tendency for information pertaining to the self to be processed more
efficiently and remembered better than other information
There are cultural differences with these schemas and references
SELF-AWARENESS
How we see ourselves at any given time depends on how much attention we have focused on ourselves
Self-awareness theory: the theory that when we focus our attention on ourselves, we become more in
touch with our attitudes and dispositions. While we have our attention turned inward, we compare and
evaluate our behaviour against our standards and values of what we believe our behaviour should be
Self-awareness can be uncomfortable in situations where our behaviour doesn’t match internal
standards and values, i.e., when we don’t ‘measure up’
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