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The complexity of the self and human behaviour Katherine J Reynolds Research School of Psychology The Australian National University.

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Presentation on theme: "The complexity of the self and human behaviour Katherine J Reynolds Research School of Psychology The Australian National University."— Presentation transcript:

1 The complexity of the self and human behaviour Katherine J Reynolds Research School of Psychology The Australian National University

2 2 Tax compliance letters experiment (Martin, 2012). When British tax authorities sent letters threatening penalties for nonpayment, nearly a third of recipients ignored them. “I may start legal proceedings against you to collect the amount unpaid.” 68% responded Payment rates jumped when they highlighted social norms instead. And the more focused the norm, the better the response. “Over 94% of UK citizens pay their taxes on time.” 73% responded “Nine out of 10 citizens living in your postcode pay their taxes on time.” 79% responded “Over 93% of citizens living in your town pay their taxes on time.” 83% responded Letters emphasising ¨SIMILIAR others¨ and ingroup norms behaviour increased tax take by 5.6 billon pounds largely due to overdue revenue.

3 3 Drink driving and risky driving (Perkins et al. 2010). Regions of the state assigned to one of three groups - Social norms marketing (high-dosage advertisements etc) - Buffer - Control Most Montana Young Adults (4 out of 5) Don’t drink and Drive. Changes in perceptions of norms Increased use designated drivers Changes in reported behaviour among year olds

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5 Social norms and behaviour change Definition - how people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence others. Social norms are important How is it that these social norms – others - actually impact on the individual mind? -Peer pressure -Social sanctions -Conformity -Social Proof -SOCIAL SELF????

6 Structure of seminar and learning outcomes: The complexity of the self Different levels of the self – personal and social The impact of the social self on cognitions and behaviour (behavioural and neuroscience evidence) – Behaviour & Neuroscience The role of the group in shaping the person – self-reported personality LEARNING OUTCOMES Knowledge about the complexity of the human self (personal and social self) Better understanding the role of the group in shaping behaviour

7 Social self OTHERS can be individuals (interpersonal) or group members (leaders, those considered similar to self, representatives) Personal identity (individual) and social identity (group) Personal identity _________________Social identity "I" and "me" "we" and "us”think and behave as individualas group member When people identify as a member of a group - the group’s goals become the individual’s goals and group members’ strive to achieve these goals intrinsically and willingly. In psychological groups other ingroup members are an extension of the self – like-self, we-self. Large body of work showing the TRUST, EMPATHY & HELPING, PERSUASION, CERTAINTY, TOLERANCE RELATED TO CATEGORISATION OF OTHERS AS LIKE- SELF/INGROUP MEMBERS.

8 Different levels of self-categorization individuals subgroups superordinate group

9 The impact of the social self When group or social identification is strong…research confirms that there is: √increased productivity and quality of group output √ better communication and increased trust within the group √ increased pro-social, organisational citizenship behaviour (e.g., unpaid overtime, orientation of newcomers) √ increased liking and respect for others in the group and greater cohesion and cooperation √ willingness to work for the benefit of the group as a whole √increased motivation to resolve ingroup disagreement (mutual influence) √ a more favourable image of the group communicated to others (e.g., defend reputation, BBQ effect) √increased acceptance of group decisions (even if they go against personal self-interest) √ increased group commitment, job satisfaction and less turnover

10 Which groups/others? Whose norms? How does influence happen? Which? Others can be defined as “non-self” (outgroup) and distanced from the perceiver or as “self” (ingroup) and interchangeable with the perceiver. Identification with, and categorization of, others as ingroup or like-self leads to greater influence on one’s own beliefs and actions (e.g., imitation and learning). The basis on which self–other similarity can be established is variable and context- dependent. How? Because other ingroup members are viewed as similar to oneself, they become a valid source of information. Ingroup members that best represent the values and norms of the group (“us”) in comparison to other groups (“them”) have the most influence – leadership.

11 Two core (accepted) theoretical points Social self is an important factor in -explaining the way people think, feel and act (values, beliefs, norms). -shaping the way people think, feel and act as (leadership, social influence).

12 The impact of the group on self-definition (Hogg & Turner, 1987) -Shift from personal to social identity involves depersonalization -Person comes to self-stereotype on the dimensions that define the group. -Hogg & Turner (1987) had participants observe a discussion amongst members of their same-sex group (WOMEN - INTRAGP) OR in mixed-sex groups (MEN & WOMEN - INTERGP). -Described themselves in more gender stereotypic ways (and more similar others own sex) in the INETRGROUP COMPARED TO INTRAGROUP CONDITIONS

13 The impact of the group on performance (Steele & Aronson, 1995; Shih, Pittinsky & Trahan, 2006) -ROLE OF GROUP STEREOTYPES AND SOCIAL IDENTITY ON PERFORMANCE (positive & negative) -Women and men perform differently in maths ability -Inform participants maths test does not pick up on gender differences or give no such instruction. -Differences between men and women in performance reduced in the altered instruction condition (intelligence, natural versus learned ability). -Asian women two possible social identities can become salient – one stereotype consistent with being good at maths (Asian) other consistent being good at verbal ability (Female).

14 The impact of the group on learning (Wright, 2009, Morton et al., 2012) -ROLE OF INGROUP IN INFLUENCE AND PERFORMANCE -TASK: Construct lego car -Work under instructions – listened to via tape recoding. -Instructions identical but attributed to an ingroup (same thinking style as you) versus outgroup (different thinking style as you) member. -Performance and Accuracy increase source ingroup compared to outgroup member. -Implications for learning?

15 The impact of the group on behaviour (Buchan et al ) -ROLE OF HIGHER-ORDER INGROUP ON BEHAVIOUR -Participants: Us, Italy, Russia, Argintina, South Africa and Iran. Allocate points represent money in a public-goods experiment. -Participants given 10 tokens (= to.50c). End of experiment payoffs based on other members of the group to which they were assigned by computer. -Measures Social identity (local community, national, the world as a whole) and concern for global warming, spread HIV, ICC more effective, inequality rich & poor. -Those identified with the “world” (global identity) motivated co-operation that transcends parochial interests (did not depend how much thought others would contribute).

16 The impact of the group on personality (Reynolds et al., 2010) -ROLE OF GROUP IN AFFECTING SELF-RATED PERSONALITY AND SHAPING PERSONALITY -Complete personality measure under normal or control conditions or when oriented to Indigenous/Non-Indigenous intergroup relations. -Under conditions internalise negative treatment of Indigenous Australians increases in Neuroticism (depression, worry). -Groups and group relations can affect individual functioning. Interdependence group life and individual “nature” and well-being.

17 The impact of the group on brain activity (Van Bavel et al., 2008) -THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL SELF ON BRAIN FUNCTIONING -Two group no existing attitudes, stereotypes, familiarity – LEOPARDS VS TIGERS (minimal group paradigm). Judge ingroup and outgroup targets (faces) -More favourable judgements of ingroup versus outgroup (ingroup bias) -Greater activation for the ingroup compared to outgroup number of brain regions (amygdala, fusiform gyri, orbitofrontal cortex, doral striatum). -Not due to attention or familiarity but self-categorization process. -Mirror neuron system observation, greater activation ingroup than outgroup.

18 Xu et al., 2009 Neural responses to watching faces inflicted with pain were greater when the target belonged to the perceiver’s own ethnic group (Anterior cingulate cortex - ACC). Leads to discussion of common group membership enhancing a perceiver’s empathic concerns for others.

19 The social self and its impact on behaviour The self is complex with the ability to self-categorize at different levels. The fact that we can include some, or all others, in our own self-concepts reveals we truly are social animals with minds designed for sociality. Those that are defined as similar to ‘us’ – ingroup members –are important in clarifying the relevant social norms and influencing our own views. With those “like us” reach agreement about what is right, proper, correct, certain – arrive at certainty about social world. As our definition of ourselves as an ingroup member (group identity) shifts and changes so too can our cognitions & behaviour.

20 Us and them - The role of the group in understanding leadership/influence (Turner, 2005) PERSUASION emerges from the perception that people share an ingroup membership - “I willingly will do as the power holder asks because we all share the same values and goals”. AUTHORITY emerges from the perception that the system through which power relations are defined is legitimate - “I willingly will do as the power holder asks (even if I do not agree with it) because he or she has the right to tell me what to do”. COERCION emerges through a lack of influence and authority - weakest form of power - “I will not willingly do as the power holder asks”. To bring about compliance, coercion is necessary - “I will do as the power holder asks because there will be negative consequences for me if I don’t”.


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