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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - the self.docx

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York University
PSYC 2120
Ward Struthers

Chapter 3: The Self Self-Concept and Self-Awareness  Self-concept – your overall beliefs about your own attributes  Self-awareness – the act of thinking about yourself  According to Hazel Markus, self-concept is made up of distinct beliefs that we hold about ourselves and influence what we notice about the world and how we process self-relevant information  As children develop their perceptions of themselves become increasingly differentiated and comprehensive o Particularly evident in adolescents  Self-esteem – an individuals evaluation of their own worth  When people are forced to be self-aware they become motivated to change their behaviour or to try to escape from their self-awareness Function of the Self  The self as an interpersonal tool – in order for us to have a social life and have relationships with others around us we need a relatively stable identity  The self as a decision maker – decisions reflect our goals and values  The self as a regulatory system – has to maintain itself despite the individuals diverse and sometimes contradictory goals Thinking About Your Thoughts  The process of thinking about your thoughts or feelings is called introspection  The hazards of introspection: o Not very effective way of gaining insight into our true attitudes o People who analyze the reasons why they have a particular attitude show a lower correlation between their attitudes and their behaviour  Their attitudes aren’t very good at predicting their actual behaviour o Our feelings are better predictors of our true preferences and even our future behaviour  Overestimation of the impact of events: o We often believe that various factors will influence our mood much more than they actually do o People are inaccurate in their affective forecasting – they greatly overestimate the impact that both positive and negative events will have on their mood o Tend to believe that major events will have a much longer lasting effect on our mood than they actually do Self-Awareness  Self-discrepancy theory – our self-concept is influence by the gap between how we see ourselves and how we want to see ourselves  Some researchers think that people rarely think about self-discrepancy and that the presence of such a discrepancy would affect the self-concept only when a person is paying attention to it Chapter 3: The Self  Self-awareness theory – people notice self-discrepancies only when they focus on their own behaviour  Limits of self-control – once we’ve spent energy on controlling our thoughts and desires we have difficulty doing so again o Trying to control or supress our thoughts can also backfire and make these thoughts particularly salient  Although self-awareness leads people to match their behaviour to their internal standards some people choose to escape from this self-awareness and the discomfort it can bring Examining Your Behaviour  Self-perception theory – we look at our behaviour to determine our attitudes and beliefs in just the same way we examine other’s behaviour to see what they are like o Explain why asking people to perform a behaviour especially with little pressure can lead them to experience a change in self-concept  Facial feedback hypothesis – changes in facial expression can lead to changes in emotion o Changes in emotion that are caused by facial feedback are simply a result of self-perception o Facial expressions and body movements influence emotions by producing physiological changes in the brain Interpreting Your Motivation  The motivation you identify as being the reason for your behaviour can influence how you view yourself  If you see yourself as having intrinsic motivation for a certain task (you are performing the activity for its own sake and you see it as being motivated by internal factors) you will experience more enjoyment of the task  If you believe that you engage in a given activity based on extrinsic motivation you will enjoy it less  To determine why we’re engaging in a particular behaviour we tend to examine the factors that lead to that behaviour o Receiving external reward can undermine our interest in engaging in a behaviour for intrinsic reasons – overjustification  Sometimes activities that should be intrinsically motivating become less enjoyable once external motivations for such behaviours are provided Social Comparison Theory  People evaluate their own abilities and attributes by comparing themselves with others o Especially likely in situations of uncertainty in which it may be difficult to assess or abilities  Explains why we think about ourselves in very different ways depending on the nature of the comparison we’re making and its significance to us Chapter 3: The Self  We also choose particular people to serve as relevant comparison models against which to assess our own behaviour Self-Serving Biases  We have a tendency to misremember events in a particular direction o One of the strategies people use to feel good about themselves o Can lead us to see change over time even when none has occurred o Occurs in part because we ignore the statistical phenomenon of regression to the average – things that are initially at extreme points are likely to become less extreme over time  We assume that our views and behaviours are normative – shared by most people  False consensus effect – the tendency to overestimate the extent to which other people share or opinions, attitudes and behaviours o Explains why you can’t believe it when your favourite TV show is cancelled  People see their own skills and abilities and relatively normative o But people tend to see themselves as different or better than others on desirable abilities and behaviours  False uniqueness effect – tendency for people to see themselves as more likely to perform positive acts than others o See ourselves as less biased and more accurate than others o Occurs because people underestimate the number of people who engage in positive actions while overestimating the number of people who engage in negative actions Self-Serving Beliefs  Unrealistic optimism – a phenomenon in which people see themselves as more likely than other people to experience good events and less likely to experience bad events o Explains why we see ourselves as better than average across multiple dimensions:  More positive personality traits  Better relationships  Less at risk of experience negative events  We see our traits in a particularly positive way and seek out and view information that flatters us as particularly valid  People also have exaggeratedly high levels of perceived control – we see uncontrollable events as at least partially under our control  People tend to also be overconfident in their judgments  Overconfident in predicting our own behaviour o Tendency toward overconfidence means that sometimes others predictions about our behaviour are more accurate than our own o Those who are the least competent are most over confident about their abilities  Self-serving beliefs can have substantial negative consequences Chapter 3: The Self Self-Serving Comparisons  Basking in reflected glory – strategy people use to maintain their positive self- concepts o Strategic association with successful others  Can use social comparison for other reasons o Making ourselves feel better o Providing means for self-improvement  Downward social comparison – compare themselves to those who are worse off than themselves on a particular trait or attribute  Sometimes you are forced to compare yourself to people who are c
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