2 Self-esteem & Self-enhancement How is depression possible? Lecture contentsIntrospectionHow useful are self-reports?Self-perceptionCan others’ behaviours change who we are?Self-esteem & Self-enhancementHow is depression possible?
3 The self-conceptThe self-concept is the sum total of a person’s beliefs (i.e., cognitions) about their own personal attributes.These beliefs can be about affect, behaviour, (other) cognitions, motives, etc.Sometimes evaluations of these beliefs (i.e., self-esteem) is considered part of the self-concept.
4 The development of self-awareness and identity ‘Subjective’ self-awareness‘Objective’ self awarenessSymbolic self-awareness
5 Self-assessment: The perils of introspection Nisbett & Wilson (1977)People often cannot explain the causes and correlates of their own behaviour.Wilson (1985)Analysing the reasons for our preferences and actions (e.g., choosing a painting) may make us reach decisions we later come to regret.Wilson & Schooler (1991)Analysing the reasons for our preferences and actions (e.g., ranking jams) may make us reach objectively bad decisions.Wilson & Kraft (1993)Analysing the reasons why we are in romantic relationships can reduce our satisfaction with them.
6 Benefits of introspection Millar & Tesser (1989)Need to match introspection ‘type’ (i.e., of feelings, of thoughts) with behaviour type (i.e., relationships, decision-making).There may be other benefits to be derived from introspection, even if is not always accompanied by ‘genuine’ self-knowledge, e.g., in health (Pennebaker, 1997).
7 Trafimow et al. (1997)“Students who took the test in English focused more on personal traits, while those who took the test in Chinese were more focused on group affiliations” (Brehm et al., 2002, p. 67)
8 Bem’s (1972) self-perception theory To the extent that(i) people’s internal states are weak or difficult to interpret, and(ii) they believe their behaviour to be unconstrained (e.g., by promise of reward or threat of punishment),then people will infer their attitudes (beliefs and feelings) from their behaviour.
9 Self-perception research Rhodewalt & Agustsdottir (1986)People subtly induced to describe themselves in positive terms scored higher on a subsequent self-esteem test than people who were not so induced.Swann & Ely (1984)People subtly induced (by leading questions) to describe themselves as either introverted or extroverted subsequently defined themselves as such, but only when not previously certain about their level of dispositional introversion/extraversion.
10 Self-perception of motivation The over-justification effectProviding extrinsic reasons (rewards, punishments) for behaviour formally engaged in for intrinsic reasons (enjoyment, duty) results in reduction of intrinsic motivation to engage in those behaviours (and thus in spontaneous expression of such behaviours).This is the ‘paradoxical effect of reward on motivation’.
12 Self-perception and performance quality Eisenberger & Cameron (1996)Post-performance rewards for quality of performance can enhance intrinsic motivation as long as such rewards were not guaranteed in advance for completion of the performance.Amabile (1996)Overjustification decreases performance quality as well as intrinsic motivation.
13 Self-esteem: Self-perception of self-value Self-esteem is the result of the self’s evaluations of the self-concept.Self can be evaluated in part (‘specific’) or whole (‘summary’).Evaluations can be positive, negative, neutral, ambiguous, and ambivalent.‘State’ and ‘trait’ self-esteem.
14 How self-esteem affects us High self-esteem has all sorts of benefits.Conversely, low self-esteem predicts an altogether poorer life experience.
15 Four mechanisms to improve self-esteem Self-enhancementFour mechanisms to improve self-esteemSelf-serving cognitionsSelf-handicappingBasking in reflected gloryDownward social comparison
16 Self-serving cognitions Schlenker et al. (1990)People tend to take credit for their own successes and distance themselves from failure.Weinstein (1980)Unrealistic optimism.Often ‘explained’ by reference to the person’s particular characteristics (Kunda, 1987).
17 Self-handicappingIf we (i) are unsure of our success on a task we value and (ii) feel we should do well, we may claim or create a handicap to our own performance.We do this in order to (i) build an advance excuse for possible future failure that might otherwise damage our self-esteem and/or (ii) be able to claim additional credit should we nevertheless succeed.
18 Basking in reflected glory BIRGingBasking in reflected gloryEnhancing self-esteem by identifying or claiming affiliation with a successful group.Cialdini et al. (1976)BIRGing and CORFingUsed most after threats to individual self-esteemHirt et al. (1992)Sometimes, we cannot CORFThis affects out individual functioning
19 Downward social comparisons Social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954).In the absence of objective criteria, people may evaluate themselves relative to similar others.People can use this phenomenon proactively (Wills, 1981).Low or threatened self-esteem motivated downward social comparison relatively positive evaluation of self improved or secured self-esteemThis works by demonstrating that:I am better (off) than someone else.I am better (off) than I could be.
20 A sequence of self-biases Self-relevantinformationAutomaticemotionalassessmentReflectivecognitiveassessmentVerify overridesenhance,if necessary