Psychology 2035A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Ingratiation
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Chapter 6 Reading Notes
The Nature of the Self Concept
•Although it’s talked about as a single entity, it’s actually a multifaceted structure
•The self concept is an organized collection of beliefs about the self
•The self concept entails your beliefs about your personality, those things that come to mind when you think about
yourself and what you believe to be true about yourself
oSelf-schemas = those beliefs
oSelf-schemas shape social perception, are developed form past experience, and are concerned with your
personality traits, abilities, physical features, values, goals, and social roles
oEach self-schema is different. You might think of yourself as a social person and that’s where your
strength is, but you have less information about your physical skills because you’re less confident in them.
Your self concept would be considered “relational” (your sense of self is based on current and past
oThe self concept is composed of various self schemas (beliefs about oneself).
•Possible selves are one’s conceptions about the kind of person one might become in the future. Possible selves are
developed from past experiences, current behaviour and future expectations. They make people attentive to goal-
related information and role models and mindful of the need to practice goal-related skills.
othey help people envision desired future goals and achieve them while moderating reactions to both
positive and negative feedback
it has been found that for individuals who have experienced traumatic events, psychological
adjustment is best among those who are able to envision a variety of positive selves
osometimes possible selves are negative and represent what you fear you might become (alcoholic or single
oindividuals with academic or career oriented possible selves are also more persistent when it comes to
scholastic achievement than those with different self goals
oself concepts seem to be most susceptible to change when people shift from an important and familiar
social setting to an unfamiliar one (i.e. going to college, move to a new city, get your first real job)
•individuals’ beliefs about themselves are not set in stone but they’re also not easily changed. People are strongly
motivated to maintain a consistent view of the self across time and situations. Thus, once the self concept is
established, the individual has a tendency to preserve and defend it
•some people experience a gap between what they actually see and what they’d like to see
•someone describes his actual self as “shy” but his ideal self is “outgoing”
•there are three types of self:
oactual self – qualities you believe you actually possess
oideal self – qualities you would like to have
oought self – traits you believe you should possess
•self-discrepancy consists of a mismatch between the self-perceptions that make up the actual self, ideal self, and
ought self. The differences between the three influence how a person feels about themselves
•Higgins says: when people live up to their personal standards (ideal or ought selves), they experience high self-
esteem. When they don’t meet their own expectations, their self-esteem suffers.
•Certain types of self-discrepancies are associated with certain emotions:
oWhen actual self is at odds with ideal self: dejection related emotions (sadness, disappointment)
oWhen actual self is at odds with ought self: agitation-related emotions (irritability, anxiety & guilt)
•Everyone experiences self-discrepancies, but most people manage to feel relatively good about themselves still.
Three factors are important in explaining why this is the case:
1. The amount of discrepancy experienced
2. The person’s awareness of the discrepancy
3. Whether the discrepancy is actually important to the person (pre-med vs. English major gets calc F)
•To cope with the negative emotions to self esteem associated with self discrepancies:
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oPeople can change their behaviour to bring it more in line with their ideal or ought selves
oBring your ideal self more in line with your actual abilities
oYou can “blunt your self awareness”; decrease how much you focus on what you dislike about yourself.
Avoid situations that increase your self-awareness. If you don’t want to appear shy, don’t go to a party full
of people you don’t know. If your weight is bothering you, stay off the scale.
some people use alcohol to blunt self awareness. Alcoholics in the real world that have a high self
awareness and couldn’t escape negative information about themselves were more likely to relapse
more quickly and completely
•remember: high self awareness intensifies people’s internal sensations, but it doesn’t always make people focus on
self discrepancies and negative aspects of the self. Self concepts are made up of numerous self beliefs (both
positive and negative). Because individuals have a need to feel good about themselves, they tend to focus on their
positive features rather than their “warts”
Factors Shaping the Self-Concept
•a variety of sources influence one’s self-concept. Chief among them are:
oone’s own observations
ofeedback from others
•one’s own observations
oyou begin comparing yourselves to others at a very young age
oLeon Festinger’s Social Comparison Theory:
Proposes that individuals compare themselves with others in order to assess their abilities and
Social comparisons can be ego-boosting, especially when comparing with a close friend or peer.
Research suggests they also engage in social comparison to improve their skills and to maintain
their self image. Sometimes social comparison is self focused, such as when a successful
professional woman compares her current self to the passive withdrawn past self.
General people compare themselves against others with particular qualities. A reference group is a
set of people who are used as a gauge in making social comparisons. People choose their reference
•To judge your grade in class, you’d have your reference group as your whole class if you
believe they are roughly at the same level as you
•If you are trying to improve your tennis game, your reference group should be based on
superior players. This is called upward social comparisons
•If your self esteem needs a boost, you will probable make a downward social comparison
looking to those you perceive as worse off
oPeople’s observations of their own behaviour aren’t objective. They tend to distort reality in a positive
oIn an academic setting, the “N-Affect” exists. The number of recognized competitors appears to reduce the
motivation to compete.
One study showed that students who believed they were writing a quiz in a group of ten finished
faster than students who believed they were writing a quiz in a group of 100
Another study showed that social comparisons become less important to individuals as N rises.
•feedback from others
oindividuals’ self concept is shaped significantly by the feedback they get from important people in their
ostudies have shown that a person’s partner in life has a large impact on their self-perception. There is
evidence that a close partner’s support and affirmation bring the loved one’s actual self views and
behaviour more in line with his or her ideal self. It’s called the Michelangelo phenomenon, to reflect the
partner’s role in sculpting into reality the ideal self of the loved one.
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