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The Social Self I. What is the self-concept? James, Cooley, Mead Self-schemas II. Social Context Immediate Context Socio-cultural Context (broader context)

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Presentation on theme: "The Social Self I. What is the self-concept? James, Cooley, Mead Self-schemas II. Social Context Immediate Context Socio-cultural Context (broader context)"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Social Self I. What is the self-concept? James, Cooley, Mead Self-schemas II. Social Context Immediate Context Socio-cultural Context (broader context) Sensitivity to Context (Self-monitoring) III. Self-enhancement Mechanisms

2 Theories of the Self William James (1890): A person has "as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their minds." Charles Cooley (1902): Views of self reflect the standpoints of significant others in our lives ("looking glass self") George Herbert Mead (1934): We imagine the perspectives of others and incorporate these into our self views -- and that this occurs continuously as we interact with others on an ongoing, moment to moment basis.

3 Twenty Statements Test

4 Self-schemas Self-schema (Markus): A set of well- elaborated knowledge about the self that guides the processing of self- relevant information and is based on past social experiences

5 Self-schemas Schema in domain of independence –Schematic: Very self-descriptive and important/central to your view of self –Aschematic: Not highly descriptive and not highly important

6 Self-schemas --Schematics faster than aschematics to endorse as self-descriptive words in schematic domain (e.g., independence) --Schematics resist evidence contradicting their view of themselves in the schematic domain.

7 Spontaneous self-concept Spontaneous self-concept (McGuire): Specific aspects of self that are triggered by the features of the current situation. (Ex: Saying “I’m a brunette” in a room where everyone else is blond.)

8 Self-awareness Theory Self-awareness theory (Duval & Wicklund): The theory that self-focused attention leads people to notice self- discrepancies, thereby motivating either an escape from self-awareness or a change in behavior.

9 Self-awareness Theory Trick-or-treat study –IV: Mirror present or not –DV: How much candy taken by trick or treaters –Results:

10 Self-awareness theory Self-focus is associated with: --a drop in self-esteem (probably because comparing self with a social standard) --behaving in line with socially desirable standards

11 The self is social The way we develop our self- conceptions depends in part on our interactions with others. The immediate situational context (which often includes other people) can affect how we see ourselves at any given point in time.

12 Broad Social Context: Culture and the Self “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The nail that stands out gets pounded down.”

13 Culture and the Self Markus & Kitayama Independent self-view: Define self in terms of own thoughts, feelings, and actions; emphasize uniqueness from others. (individualistic Western) Interdependent self-view: Define self in terms of one’s relationships to others; emphasize connectedness to others (collectivistic Asian and Third World cultures).

14 Role of Personality

15 What is the self? The self-concept is complex and multifaceted. Universe of self-conceptions: All of the ways in which you might see yourself (actual self, hoped for self, ideal self, etc.) Working self-concept: Includes core self- conceptions along with less central self- conceptions that may vary depending on the situational context.

16 Self-esteem Self-esteem: Global positive or negative feelings about the self. Attributions about exam grades when succeed or fail: Degree to which score reflects: Your ability Situation (test was too hard)

17 Mechanisms of self-enhancement Downward social comparisons: Comparing ourselves to people who are worse off than we are on a particular trait or ability. Why? What did Shelley Taylor find in her research w/breast cancer patients?

18 Self-evaluation Maintenance Theory (SEM) Cannot always use downward comparison SEM: Sometimes one’s view of self is threatened by another person’s behavior, and the degree of threat depends on the closeness of the relationship to the other person and relevance of the behavior. Abraham Tesser’s research: What happens when we compare ourselves with someone close to us? [Video clip]

19 BIRGing Basking in reflected glory: Increasing self-esteem by associating with others who are successful (BIRGing)

20 BIRGing Cialdini et al. (1976) Monday morning after football games, college students (from Arizona State, Louisiana State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, etc.) more likely to wear school sweatshirts when team won on the previous Sat. & larger the victory, the more shirts worn. IV: General knowledge test. ½ success, ½ failure feedback DV: Describe outcome of recent football game. Results:

21 Self-handicapping Berglas & Jones (1978) Cover: “Drugs and intellectual performance” Independent variable: Solvable or unsolvable problems Dependent variable: Choice of Drug Drug A: Helps intellectual performance Drug B: Inhibits intellectual performance

22 Self-handicapping HelpsInhibits Unsolvable problem: Solvable problem:

23 Self-handicapping Self-handicapping: When a person protects his/her self-image by setting up a situation that makes it difficult to succeed, but creates a handy excuse for failure.

24 Defensive pessimism Defensive pessimism (Norem & Cantor): A strategy in which a person expects the worst, and works harder because of this expectation. What did they find?

25 Explanations for self-serving bias 1. Self-presentation--want to make a good impression on others 2. Motivation--we are motivated to protect and enhance our self-esteem.


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