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Chapter 5


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Sociology 2233
Brendan Murphy

CH. 5 – Self-Knowledge and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem Eva Tihanyi: Hungarian Canadian writer Nature of the Self William James describes self as… -Composed of one’s thoughts and beliefs about (the ―known‖ or the ―me‖) -Active processor of information, the ―knower‖ or the ―I‖ Self-concept: contents of the self (our knowledge of who we are) -Nature of the self To the ―knower‖ this is Self-awareness: act of thinking about ourselves -How ppl come to know themselves -Self concept and self awareness combine to create sense of identity -Self is a book and and reader of that book -Of contents collected overtime that we can access a specific chapter or add a new one at any moment -Rouge test: -Chimpanzees, orangutans, and dolphins also have sense of self-concept -Red dot painted on animal then placed in front of mirror -Recognize that they look different from the way they looked before Who am I? Test -In humans, self-concept develops around age 2 Self-Concept at varying ages: Child: concrete, references easily observable characteristics: age, sex, neighbourhood, and hobbies. Ex. Nine-year old: brown eyes, brown hair, brown eyebrows, boy -Less emphasis on physical and more on psychological states and judgment of others as we mature Ex. Extrovert, cautious and spiritual person, only child, worrier, not interested in politics etc. Functions of the Self: Self-Regulation -Self serves executive function (CEO-like) -Regulates behaviour, choices, and plans for future, exerts control over actions -Only species able to imagine future events, engage in long-term planning Thought-suppression: when we try to push thoughts out of our minds -Form of self-control that often backfires -More we try not to think about smth, more it comes to mind Self-Regulatory Resource Model -Theory of self control -Self-control is a limited resource -Like a muscle that gets tired with frequent use but then rebounds in strength -Spending self-control on one task limits amt of time that can be spent on another Study: CH. 5 – Self-Knowledge and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem -Participants who were instructed to suppress a thought (bear), became worse at trying to regulate emotions on second task (don’t laugh at this funny clip) compared with ppl who do not first have to suppress their thoughts or act neutral -Although second task completely unrelated, first task depleted resource ppl use for self-control (effort depleted) -Helps to explain why we fail at self-control under stress -Dealing with stress depletes the ―self-resource‖ that would usually be used for self-control in other aspects Ex. Former smokers, dieters more likely to break diet at night -Self-control best when we are well-rested and not too stressed out Study 2: (UFT-Brain activity recording) -Brain activity recorded while participants performed task requiring self-control -Suppressing emotions while watching movie of animals suffering and dying -Control cont’d: not asked to suppress feelings -Later those in experimental cont’d made more errors on task requiring intense concentration than control cont’d -Displayed weakened neural response in area of brain that monitors/detects errors Content of the Self: Self-Schemas Self-schema: organized body of knowledge abt ourselves (e.g., attitudes, preferences, traits) that influences what people notice, think abt, and remember abt themselves Ex. Someone who loves acting more likely to rmb the movie they watched than the volleyball game they played that day Schema: body of knowledge that helps us organize what we know abt the social world -Influences the info we notice, think abt, and rmb Self-Reference Effect: tendency for ppl to rmb info better if they relate it to themselves -Integrating it into self-schema helps to organize info btr -Schemas can also bias memory processes -G1 told introversion associated with success G2 told extroversion -G1 more likely to rmb introverted past bhvrs, G2 extroverted past bhvrs -Selective memory search -To draw rational conclusion that desirable trait of part of self-schema Self-Concept Clarity -Extent to which knowledge about self is: stable, clearly and consistently defined -Impt cognitive and emotional implications Low self concept clarity = -Low self-esteem, depression-prone, neurotic, less aware of internal states -Tendency to engage in chronic self-analysis & rumination: involuntary, neg form of self-focus associated with threat or uncertainty -Self-handicapping: creating excuses in advance in case of poor performance, can avoid blame) -Less positive reflection ―love exploring inner-self‖ -Depression strongest for women w/ low self-concept clarity -Not having clear, confident sense of who you are = neg effects on thoughts and emotions CH. 5 – Self-Knowledge and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem Cultural Differences in Defining the Self -Masako, educated, multi-lingual woman gives us independence and career to marry Japanese crown prince (as of 2004, suffering from depression) Independent view of the self: defining oneself in terms of one’s own internal thoughts, feelings, and actions and not those of others -Much of Western culture Interdependent view the self: defining self in terms of one’s relationships to other ppl; recognizing bhvr is often determined by thoughts, feelings, and actions of others -Asian, collectivist cultures -Connectedness, interdependence valued, independence, uniqueness frowned upon Asian cultures: qualities such as kind, accepting, loyal -Reference to social groups; family, friends in self descriptions Canadian culture: exciting personality, physically attractive, interesting -Women in Japan joining workforce in record #s and postponing marriage in favour of careers -Sense of self-concept clarity less clear in interdependent cultures -Japanese students scored lower than Canadians on scale -Not as strongly linked to self-esteem as Canadians Gender Differences in Defining the Self -Some truth in women and feelings stereotype -Reflects gender differences in self-concept Women: relational interdependence, relationships such as how they feel abt their partner, friend or child (close relationships) Men: collective interdependence, social groups such as sports teams they belong to (membership to larger groups) Waterloo study: -Women rated relational traits (warm, affectionate, loving) more self-descriptive than men -Applies across individualist cultures (NA, white South Africa, New Zealand) -Collectivists (Interdependence): women and men equally likely to hold relational view of self (China, Ethiopia, black South Africa) -Psychological differences in self-concept btwn genders fewer than similarities Knowing Ourselves through Introspection -How ppl gain self-knowledge Introspection: process of looking inward and examination of our own thoughts, feelings, and motives -―Internal inspection‖ (1) Ppl spend very little time thinking about themselves, reliance on this source of info is low -Only 8% of thoughts are abt the self, we mainly think abt work, chores, and time (2) Reasons for feelings and bhvr hidden from conscious awareness Focusing on the Self: Self-Awareness Theory -When ppl focus attn. on themselves, they evaluate and compare current bhvr with their internal standards and values CH. 5 – Self-Knowledge and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem -If we can’t change our disparity/bhvr to match our internal standards we will feel dissatisfaction (painful) and try to flee from state of self-awareness ASAP Study by Sophia Moskalenko and Steven Heine: -Told some participants they performed poorly on a task that reflects their level of intelligence -Others told they performed well Hypothesis: participants given failure feedback highly motivated to escape self-awareness and thus most likely to pay attn. to video playing in the room -Results supported prediction Roy Baumeister: alcohol abuse, sexual masochism, suicide, binge eating all effective ways of turning internal spotlight away from oneself Drunk = avoiding neg thoughts abt self Suicide = ending self scrutiny What this means: self-focus can be aversive Escaping self-awareness through more positive means: -Religious expression, spirituality -Self focus after success is pleasant in that it highlights pos self accomplishments -Study: ppl feel good abt themselves after having fb profile (rather than actual self) displayed on computer screen -Self focus can keep us out of trouble by reminding us of rights and wrongs -Self-awareness increases likelihood of following moral standards, avoiding temptation to cheat Cultural Differences in Self-Awareness East Asians: outside perspective on the self, viewing self through eyes of others -Chronic state of self-awareness -Less influenced by cues; mirrors Western: insider perspective on the self, focus on own private experiences independent of how others seem them -Americans who rated self w/ mirror more self dissatisfied, reported larger gap btwn actual and ideal selves -Japanese; mirror did not effect dissatisfaction of self -Presence of mirror decreased Canadians likelihood of cheating, no impact on Japanese *Japanese acted like they had a ―mirror in their heads‖ therefore had no need for actual mirror to see themselves from an outside perspective High in interdependence  ppl made to feel self-aware assumed that another person would also have this heightened access to their (performers) traits Judging Why We Feel the Way We Do: Telling More than We Can Know ―Telling more than we know‖ – ppl’s explanations of their feelings and bhvr often go beyond what they can reasonably know Study – Mood Journals -Keep track of mood everyday for five weeks -Things that might impact mood; weather, amount of sleep CH. 5 – Self-Knowledge and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem -Asked to estimate how much their mood was related to these other variables Results: most ppl wrong abt what predicted their mood -Amt of sleep unrelated to mood but most thought it was predictive of their mood the following day Similar Study: -Track mood for 70 days -Asked to recall mood later -Participants ―remembered‖ more positive moods on weekends and ―bluer Mondays‖ than actually experienced -Women: worse mood around and during PMS when in fact they were in a more pleasant mood -Participants relied on their causal theories Causal Theories: theories abt the causes of one’s own feelings and bhvrs; typically, learned from our culture (e.g., absence makes the heart grow fonder) -Ppl have many theories abt what influences their feelings and bhvr and often use these to help explain why they feel the way they do -Not always correct leading us to incorrect judgments abt the causes of our actions -Things that influence judgment but often overlooked; -Presented participants a documentary in presence of annoying noise -Control cont’d -Asked to rate enjoyment of film and whether hallway noise influenced evaluations Hypothesis: ppl would not realize noise was responsible for lower evaluation of film -Not supported -Most tho
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