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Chapter 5

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Western University
Psychology 2720A/B
Clive Seligman

CHAPTER 5: THE PERSON IN THE SITUATION: SELF-CONCEPT, GENDER AND DISPOSITIONS Self-Concept and Identity • Much of what is thought of as being human has to do with self-reflection: thinking about one’s past and future, wondering how one is viewed by other people, and assessing one’s own strengths and weaknesses • The product of self-reflection is our self-concept, which encompasses the most fundamental aspects of our psychological makeup • Who Am I? The Self in Me? • Self-Concept: all information about the self in memory • Identity: the characteristics that individuals think define and make up their most important qualities • Attitudes, Gender, and Dispositions •Some of the specific contents of your identity are attitudes and values, your gender, and your dispositions, or traits are also probably central to your identity • Priming and Situations Distinctiveness •Although it is true that everyone has certain traits and characteristics that are central to his or her identity, there is also some variability over time and across situations in how people see themselves •Changes over time and settings reflect, in part, that only limited portions of the self-concept can be accessible at any specific moment •Spontaneous Self-Concept: the aspects of identity that are in conscious awareness at a given point in time •Recent activation can increase the likelihood of subsequent activation, which is called priming •People are more aware of a specific characteristic when it makes them distinctive from other people in the situation •Any feature that distinguished individuals form others in the setting is expected to become more accessible •Situational factors can make features more prominent, which increases the likelihood than those features will be activated and become part of the spontaneous self-concept • Is it Me or We? • Our identity can also include group memberships • These groups define some of our most valued characteristics • Social Identity Theory •Social Identity Theory: a model hypothesizing that people want to have positive appraisals of groups to which they belong •Comparisons between our group and other groups make us feel good when our group outperforms the other groups •Minimal Group Paradigm: a procedure in which participants are divided into groups based on trivial features or information • Optimal Distinctiveness Theory •Optimal Distinctiveness Theory: a model hypothesizing that people want to maintain a balance between similarity to other people and individuality form other people • Cultural Differences in Identity • Independent Versus Interdependent Selves CHAPTER 5: THE PERSON IN THE SITUATION: SELF-CONCEPT, GENDER AND DISPOSITIONS •In individualist cultures, the self is seen as independent form other people, whereas in collectivist cultures, the self is seen as interdependent with other people • Is It Me or We? •Data indicate that people form collectivist cultures define themselves in terms of their relationships to others more than do people form individualist cultures •Data suggest that participants had separate identities in memory, one reflecting their family’s Chinese culture and one reflecting the dominant English culture, which were activated by the associated language • Self-Esteem: Liking for the Self • Self-esteem can be conceptualized as an attitude toward the self - a judgement that the self is worthy or unworthy • Sources of Self Esteem •To the extent that people experience many positive outcomes across varied situations, they are likely to develop favorable beliefs about themselves and positive feelings about their personal worthiness •Personal experiences of successful or unsuccessful social relationships are very important for self-esteem: friendships and social acceptance produce self- confidence and high self-esteem, whereas loneliness and social rejection produce self doubts and low self-esteem •Individuals with low self-esteem are more likely than those with high self- esteem to believe that other people’s liking for them depends on their performance: others will accept them if they succeed but reject them if they fail • Correlates of Self-Esteem •People with high slef-esteem have clearer and more certain views of themselves than do people with low self-esteem •Self-esteem is also correlated with expectancies for success: although in low self-esteem individuals want to succeed just as much as people with high self- esteem, those with low self-esteem do not really expect to succeed, whereas people with high self-esteem anticipate success •People with high self-esteem exhibit more self-enhancement in a variety of ways • to attribute success to internal factors • to attribute failure to external factors • to recall information about personal failures • to exaggerate their control over situations •Self-esteem correlates with depression and anxiety, and positively with life satisfaction •Narcissism: a disposition that represents the extent to which people have excessive love for themselves •People who are high in narcissism have inflated views of their self-worth, which are not connected to reality •Narcissism correlated with self-esteem, but only moderately which means that people with high self-esteem are not always high in narcissism •Narcissists are defensive about criticism that threatens their ego and respond with aggression CHAPTER 5: THE PERSON IN THE SITUATION: SELF-CONCEPT, GENDER AND DISPOSITIONS •Threatened Egotism: a hostile, aggressive response to criticism fro others, which has been linked to narcissism • Secure and Defensive High Self-Esteem •Secure High Self-Esteem: a positive self-view that is confidently held •Defensive High Self-Esteem: a positive view that is fragile and vulnerable to threat •In the domain of self-esteem, automatic self-evaluations refer to people’s uncontrolled, spontaneous feelings about the self •Whereas explicit self-evaluations are conscious and can be measured with self- report scales, implicit self evaluations are often unconscious and can only be measured by indirect means •People who scored high on a self-report scale of self-esteem by who exhibited negative self-evaluation on an implicit measure of self-esteem behaved more self-protectively in several contexts than did people who scored high on a self- report scale of self-esteem and who exhibited positive self evaluation on an implicit measure of self-esteem •People with defensive high self-esteem scored higher on a narcissism scale than did people with secure high self-esteem Gender and Social Behaviour • Sex is a biological characteristic and a naturally occurring category, which refers to an individual’s reproductive status as female or male • Gender, on the other hand, is a psychological characteristic and a socially constructed, category which refers to all of the things it means to be a women or a man in our society • Gender Differences and Similarities • Differences between women and men could reflect both biological factors and socialization factors • The Importance of Gender in Everyday Life •Evidence that gender is the characteristic that is used more often than any other characteristic to spontaneously categorize people we encounter •Gender stereotypes: beliefs about the characteristics that are associated with men and women •Evidence that people’s identity as a man or woman is important to them •It is more common for people to show patterns of scores that do not reflect traditional Western sex-role stereotypes • Gender Similarities in Dispositions •Men and women do not differ significantly on most dispositions that have been investigated by social psychologists •Although men and women experience difference patterns of daily experiences these gender-based experiences do not produce reliable sex differ
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