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The Self, Identity, & Personality

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1 The Self, Identity, & Personality
Chapter 11

2 SELF All the Characteristics of the Person
Self-concept: everything the person believes to be true about him/herself Includes traits, preferences, social roles, values, beliefs, interests, self-categorization Self-understanding develops throughout the lifespan

3 Self-Awareness in Infancy
Dot-of-rouge experiment Recognize selves in mirror at months 15-23 months Personal pronoun use Picture recognition Self-referencing, ownership, self-monitoring

4 Self in Early Childhood
Confusion of self, mind, and body Concrete descriptions Physical descriptions Activities – what they do Overestimation of abilities

5 Self – Middle & Late Childhood
Shift to internal traits and abilities Social role descriptions Real and ideal selves More realistic about abilities

6 Perspective Taking Opposite of egocentrism – the ability to assume another’s perspective Children who are good at this are popular Development progresses through stages (Selman)

7 Self in Adolescence Abstract-idealistic Self-conscious/ preoccupied
Contradictions within self Fluctuating picture across time/situations Possible selves Self-integrations as they get older

8 Self in Adulthood Self-awareness (emotional intelligence)
Accept own good and bad qualities Possible selves become more realistic Life review – evaluation of successes & failures; more likely as you get older

9 Self-Esteem: What is it?
Evaluative part of the self-concept emotional Difference between the real and ideal self Have you realized your potential? Do you value the trait, but have little potential? Ideal self includes the “ought” and the “wish” selves Measure of our sense of meaning in life This includes purpose Self-respect (Have you lived up to who you are?)

10 Self-Esteem: What is it?
Influenced by the reactions of others Generalized other, great ubiquitous “they” People are susceptible to flattery It is tougher to accept criticism Basis for conformity

11 Self-Esteem: What is it?
Self-serving bias Overrate ourselves Blame our failures Claim our victories As a rule, only depressed people truly have low self-esteem

12 The Self-Esteem Movement
Thank you to Dr. Tracey Zinn, on whose conference presentation this section is based. Organizations asking why their new college graduate employees fall apart at criticism There has been a lot of discussion in the past couple of years about new college graduates and feedback Many managers say that students get very defensive at criticism, can’t handle negative feedback, and expect to get raises and promotions immediately. 12

13 What’s the problem? This comment on a discussion list pretty much sums up why I’m interested in this topic. Why are students afraid of making mistakes and is being wrong, in classes or otherwise, socially traumatic? 13

14 The Self-Esteem Movement
Propagated primarily in the educational system Curricula aimed at increasing students’ self-esteem Affects Everyone born after 1970… Focus has been on increasing self-esteem that is not rooted in reality Researchers now suggesting that students need to be able to identify their talents The Psychology of Self-Esteem Branden (1969) Self-esteem was viewed as vital to success Journal articles on SE doubled in the 70s & 80s, increased another 50% in 90s, # books doubled Schools developed self-esteem enhancing curricula 14

15 What Was Taught “Keep your head up, feel good about yourself”
but not “take responsibility for your work”. Forsyth et al (2007) “You can do anything!” No use of the word “failure” Everyone got all As in HS, doing little work Unrealistic expectations of success Students report being bored in class Researchers attempted a self-esteem manipulation with D & F students after a test and told them either to “keep your head up, feel good about yourself” vs. “take responsibility for your work”. Students who were told to feel good about themselves actually ended up doing worse 15

16 What Resulted This book discusses what the author sees as generational differences between previous generations and today’s college-aged students She attributes a great deal of the issues to the self-esteem movement and describes 16

17 What Resulted: Attitudes
“Being happy is the most important thing” We should always feel good about ourselves Increase in narcissism (debated) Don’t say “I’m a good soccer player” (Just say “I’m good.”) Generation Me discusses many of the changes that occurred during the self-esteem movement There is a debate about whether there has been an increase in the narcissism scores of kids who grew up in the self-esteem movement, but not a lot of debate about the fact that there were these changes One of the biggest issues was that kids were encouraged to not focus on their real skills, because that resulted in “contingent” self-esteem. Decrease in negative feedback in schools; some disallowed red pens for correcting mistakes, some stopped correcting certain mistakes Thought that any negative feedback would result in the crumbling of children’s self-esteem 17

18 What Resulted: Attitudes
Carol Dweck’s research Effort is considered a sign of stupidity When children are told that they are smart, they choose an easier task. Panic when they are challenged or think they are engaging in “a lot of effort”. Effort vs. Ability When children are told that they are smart (brilliant), choose easier task Effort is a sign of stupidity Panic when they are challenged I’m supposed to be good at everything! Often think of effort as much less than what we would (Zinn et al, under review) This doesn’t hold across all cultures 18

19 Result – Confused Parents
Encouraged delicate handling of children Shielded them from negative emotions, criticism Praised kids regardless of what they did Carol Dweck’s research Parents often think that helping their kids build self-esteem is done by shielding them from criticism and praising their talents Protecting kids from hurt, failure, criticism, & disappointment has made them more vulnerable Parents think SE is something you give to kids by shielding them from criticism and praising their talents “In the old days, the parents would be driving kids home from Little League saying ‘when you struck out, you didn’t keep your eye on the ball.’ Now they say, ‘the ref robbed you.’” Protecting kids from hurt, failure, criticism and disappointment has made them more vulnerable. 19

20 What Resulted - Behaviors
Thin skinned undergraduates, defensive when they miss questions or are challenged Generation X Goes to College (Peter Sacks) Students seem to be incapable of handling negative feedback. New hires are asking for raises and promotions almost immediately after being hired. When students with high SE are criticized Unfriendly, rude, and uncooperative. Entitlement regularly cited as an issue in college. Being told that you can and will be able to do anything results in young adults who feel jipped when they discover that this may not be the case (no one has ever told them that this shouldn’t be the case) When students are confronted by something that may be difficult for them they are surprised and don’t know how to react 20

21 What Failed to Result [High self-esteem] Isn’t associated with improved grades, career achievement, reduced alcohol usage, lower violent behavior, etc. Baumeister and colleagues (2003) Baumeister (2003): of the 200 studies that were decent on SE, none showed positive benefits of just SE 21

22 Educational Outcomes of the Self-Esteem Movement
Susan Jacoby The Age of American Unreason Are our students (people) hostile to knowledge? Self-esteem movement = I’m the smartest kid! “I’m supposed to be happy!” Now, I don’t know if this is any different from any other time, but some are arguing that because students today have been taught to be so self-focused, they are hostile to knowledge or challenge that states otherwise. If you’ve been taught that you are the smartest kid and can do no wrong, why should you bother learning? Would you listen to reports that American kids were falling behind other countries in intellectual markers? Would you care? There is an idea related to this that by focusing on “being happy” all the time, we’ve given students the impression that discomfort of any kind 22

23 Backlash against Self-Esteem
John Hewitt’s The Myth of Self-Esteem: Finding Happiness and Solving Problems in America “Why do you feel good about yourself?” “Because of self-esteem” Students don’t like the to discuss self-esteem as a problematic concept 23

24 Backlash against Self-Esteem
Generation Me Risk of depression & anxiety higher for young people today “Our growing tendency to put the self first leads to unparalleled freedom, but it also creates an enormous amount of pressure on us to stand alone.” Generation me discusses a different take on the increase in antidepressant and anti-anxiolytic drugs Today, the lifetime rate of major depression is 10 times higher than for people born before 1915—15-20%, some say higher Some argue that it’s not just an increase in diagnosis or acceptability of depression/anxiety, but a real increase in the disorder “Normal” schoolchildren in the 1980s reported higher levels of anxiety than child psychiatric patients in the 1950s (Twenge) Focus on the self and independence, “our disappointments loom large because we have nothing else to focus on” Generation me has been taught to expect more out of life at the very time when good jobs and nice houses are increasingly difficult to obtain We are supposed to be able to do and be anything; any disappointment suggests that we will not 24

25 Are Negative Emotions Normal?
Against happiness: In praise of melancholy Eric Wilson Loss of sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder Alan Horwitz & James Wakefield The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders Peter Conrad Medicating normal emotions: Does this suggest that we shouldn’t ever feel sad, depressed, anxious, etc? If we are suggesting that students should always be content and happy, is that doing them a disservice? Several books have come out suggesting that we are turning normal conditions into disorders. Obviously, this does not mean that medication is bad, per se, or that it does not have it’s place; however, our culture could be implying to students that negative emotions or experiences are always abnormal. One discussion on TIPs recently involved the new data about the less than stellar effectiveness of antidepressants and one discussant wrote: “with finding new things to medicate ("limerence" as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago), but treating all kinds of ordinary sadness and normal healthy grief as needing to be medicated” I like to tell students that part of my job is to make them feel uncomfortable and to challenge them. Can we show students that experiencing sadness, difficulty, frustration, etc are normal? 25

26 Self-Worth Meaning Purpose Living up to your identity & your destiny

27 Components of Identity
Career Political views Religious beliefs Relationships Ethnic identity Personality Body image

28 Erikson Identity vs. Identity Confusion
Identity crisis - exploration Identity commitment Problems: Weak sense of trust Little autonomy or initiative Lack of industry

29 Marcia’s Paths to Identity
Identity diffusion No crisis/ commitment Identity foreclosure Commitment/ no crisis Identity moratorium Crisis/ no commitment Identity achievement (goal) Commitment following crisis

30 Erikson –Generativity vs. Stagnation
Middle Adulthood Self-absorption Self-indulgence

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