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Chapter 2

PS270 Chapter 2 Notes.docx

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Christine Zaza

Chapter 2 – The Self in a Social World - Examples of the subtle connections between what happens in the world around us and what goes on in our heads: o Social surroundings affect our self awareness  We notice how we differ and how others are reacting to our difference  If someone is the only member of their gender then they are made aware (example only woman in an executive meeting or in a class) o Self-interest colours our social judgement  When problems arise in a close relationship such as marriage, we usually attribute more responsibility to our partners than to ourselves  When things go well, we see ourselves as more responsible o Self-concern motivates our social behaviour  We agonize about our appearance  We also monitor others’ behaviour and expectations and adjust our behaviour accordingly o Social relationships help define the self  In our varied relationships, we have varying selves  How we think of ourselves is linked to the person we’re with at the moment - Our ideas and feelings about ourselves affect how we respond to others - Others help shape our sense of self - Our sense of self organizes our thoughts, feelings, and actions - Self-Concept – a person’s answers to the question ‘who am I?’ - An important role for the right hemisphere o Put yours to sleep and you will likely have trouble recognizing your own face - The medical prefrontal cortex, a neuron path located in the cleft between your brain hemispheres just behind your eyes, seemingly helps stitch together your sense of self - It becomes more active when you think about yourself - The elements of your self-concept, the specific beliefs by which you define yourself, are your self- schemas - Self-Schemas – beliefs about self that organize and guide the processing of self relevant information o Powerfully affect how we perceive, remember, and evaluate other people and ourselves o You will welcome information that is consistent with your self-schema o The self-schema that make up our self-concept help us organize and retrieve our experiences - Possible Selves – images of what we dream of or dread becoming in the future (included in our self- schema) o Such possible selves motivate us with a vision of the life we long for, and the life we hope to avoid - The self-concept has become a major social-psychological focus because it helps organize our thinking and guide our social behaviour - Among these influences are the following: o Our social identity o The comparisons we make with others o Our successes and failures o How other people judge us o The surrounding culture - Our self-concept contains not just our personal identity but our social identity - Social Identity – the ‘we’ aspect of our self-concept (I am Canadian, I am Christian, I am not African American) - Self-concept is also shaped by how we compare ourselves to others - Social Comparison – evaluating your abilities and opinions by comparing yourself to others o We use others as a benchmark by which we evaluate our performance and our beliefs o This can profoundly affect our self-feelings o Diminish our satisfaction - Self-concept is also fed by our daily experiences - Boost achievement by raising self-esteem with positive messages - Low self-esteem does cause problems - Compared with those with low self-esteem, people with a sense of self-worth are happier, less neurotic, less troubled by insomnia, less prone to drug and alcohol addictions, more persistent after failure, and healthier (at least in part because they have stronger social bonds) - Problems and failures can cause low self-esteem - When people think well of us, it helps us think well of ourselves - The looking-glass self – describes the use of how we think others perceive us as a mirror for perceiving ourselves o What matters for our self-concept is not how others actually see us but the way we imagine they see us - People generally feel freer to praise than to criticize; they voice their compliments and restrain their gibes o We may overestimate others’ appraisal, inflating our self-image - Self-inflation is found most strikingly in Western countries o It is the many words of praise that friends offer one another - Our ancestors’ fate dependent on what others thought of them o Their survival was enhanced when protected by their group o When perceiving their groups’ disapproval, there was biological wisdom to their feeling shame and low self-esteem - Self-esteem is a psychological gauge by which we monitor and react to how others appraise us o Tracks how we see ourselves on traits that we believe are valued by others o Predicted by communal qualities for people whose roles make these qualities attractive to others o Depends on whether or not we believe we have traits that make us attractive to others, and not necessarily on the traits that we say we most value - People believe that social acceptance often depends on easily observable traits, such as physical appearance and social skills - Though people say they value communal traits (such as kindness and understanding) they recognize that appearance is often what attracts others o Self-esteem corresponds to such superficial traits than to communal qualities - Individualism – the concept of giving priority to one’s own goals over group goals and defining one’s identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications - Identity is self-contained - One’s identity – as a unique individual with particular abilities, traits, values, and dreams – remains fairly constant - Western culture assumes that your life will be enriched by believing in your power of personal control - Individualism flourishes when people experience affluence, mobility, urbanism, and mass media - Collectivism – giving priority to the goals of one’s groups o Also results in different ways of thinking - Independent Self – construing one’s identity in relation to others o People are more self-critical and have less need for positive self-regard - Individual-collectivism also varies across a country’s regions and political views - Despite individual and subcultural variations, researchers continue to regard individualism
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