Social beings A core motives approach to social psychology

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					Social Psychology

The Social Self

Lecturer: James Neill

Lecture Web Page

 Ch2

Culture & Nature  Ch3 The Self  Ch4 Behavior Control – The Self in Action

Culture & Nature  What is the “Self”?  What is the “Social Self”?  Self-Constructs  Evolutionary Functions  Adaptational Functions  Self-Complexity  Social Comparison  Social Feedback  Strategic Self-Presentation  Self-Monitoring  Self-Regulation

Culture & Nature

Psyche Evolution Culture

Brain Theory Individual vs. Culture


Broad term for mind, influenced by:
–Nature – Genes, hormones, brain
structure and other innate processes dictate how you will choose and act

–Culture – Learned experiences; from
parents, society and any experiences

of evolution Natural selection
–Survival until reproduction –Reproduction

Mutation Reproduction

system of shared ideas and common ways of doing things  Ideas – mental representations that are abstract and that can be expressed in language  Cultural differences and underlying similarities
 Info-based

Social Animal
connections to others Work together Learn from one another Help kin Resolve conflict with aggression

Cultural Animal
shaped psyche to enable creating and taking part in culture  Division of labor  Deliberately share knowledge  Help strangers  Resolve conflict with many alternatives
 Evolution

Social Brain Theory
Why only human brain evolved?
 Larger brain is linked to complex social systems (Dunbar, 1993, 1996)

Advantages of Culture
Human brain evolved to capitalize on culture
– – – – Language Progress - to build on experience of others Division of Labor Exchange of Goods and Services

Humans have evolved to participate in culture

The Duplex Mind
Automatic system
of consciousness Simple operations

Conscious system


Changing Role of Consciousness
Increased focus on role of automatic system
Can learn, think, choose and respond  Has idea and emotions  Knows “self” and other people

Consciousness focus on complex thinking and logic

Living in a Culture
Working to gain social acceptance
states help humans connect to others  Intelligent brain evolved to improve interpersonal relations
 Inner

Nature Says Go, Culture Says No
Nature – impulses, wishes,

automatic responses Culture – teaches self-control and restraint

–Nature‟s disgust reactions (No) –Cultural timetable for meals (Go)

Selfish Impulse vs. Social Conscience Nature makes us selfish
 Preservation

of self

Culture helps us resist selfish impulses Consideration of what is best for society
–Moral Code –Laws

Putting People First
get most of what they need from other people Culture as a “general store” of information People look to and rely on each other

What Makes Us Human?

results from mix of nature and culture Human life is enmeshed in culture Humans think with language and meaning

What Makes Us Human?
 What

makes us special?

– Self-Awareness
– Self-Concept
 Self

is a human tool for

– Gaining social acceptance – Participating in culture

What is the „Self‟?

What is “self”?
– “I am…” statements – Blog description – What do I promote? – What do I defend?

yourself e.g.,

Usually includes social roles (e.g., gender, social identity, group memberships, and ethnicity)



Self Groups

What is the “self”?

Many, varied theories about the purpose and function of the „self‟ –
e.g., in arts, philosophy, science, culture, religion, and through history.

What is the “self”?

Psychologically... collection of cognitivelyheld beliefs that a person possesses about themselves.

What is the “self”? However… “Self” seems to extend beyond the physical self (body), to include psychologically meaningful personal possessions and personal space.

What is the “self”?

“The self is an important tool with which the human organism makes its way through human society and thereby manages to satisfy its needs.”

What is the “self”?

Traditionally, “self” was seen as representing stable, genetically determined “character” – or later, “personality”.

What is the “self”?

More recently, “self” was understood to evolve during a lifetime, i.e. Partly stable, partly changing.

What is the “self”?
Most recently, “self” has been further complexified and increasingly seen as:
–Dynamic & changeable –Multiple / Plural –Hierarchical –Situationally & cognitively influenced –Culturally constructed

The psychological self includes:  Attitudes  Cognitions  Emotions  Group Memberships (Social Identity)  Ideal / Imagined Selves  Memories  Possessions  Self-Beliefs  Self-Concepts  Self-Images  Social Roles

What is the “self”?

What is the “self”?

To determine “What is self”, use diagnostic clues:
am I? What are you prepared to defend?

Fluctuating Image(s) of Self
Phenomenal Self (Working SelfConcept)
– Unusual aspects about you become prominent – Being lone member of some category
 Heightens self-awareness  Can impair performance

What is the “social self”?

are gregarious, group-based creatures. A significant portion of our „self‟ and its „behaviour‟ is socially directed and influenced.


What is the “social self”?

Some argue that „self‟ is entirely a function of the environment.

e.g., “Self” as a construct of postindustrial, capitalist society and political systems which promote self-identity and choice-making, and then markets to the “self”.

What is the “social self”?
 Interpersonal

part of self that engages face-toface, in relation with others.

Self or Social Self

 Social

Roles -> Social Identity or Societal Self

can include ethnicity, gender, age, place of residence or any other social categorization that helps characterize a person‟s identity.

Purpose of the Self
Gain Play

social acceptance social roles

–Society creates and defines roles –Individual seeks and adopts them

Self-Esteem Self-Concept Self-Efficacy Self-Congruence
illustrate how social psychologists study people‟s selves, in cognitive, affective, and behavioral terms.

feelings of self-worth  Value placed in & degree of liking of self.  Often based on and closely related to social comparisons. (e.g., too thin, too fat)  People are motivated to see their self as worthy/worthwhile (Fiske, 2004).
 Global

 High  Low

Self-Esteem Self-Esteem

– Positive views – Absence of strong positive views

to have a slightly inflated sense of self value (Taylor).  Self-esteem serves as a sociometer for one‟s standing in a group (Fiske, 2004).  Self-esteem has been overemphasized in Western society, to the detriment of actual skill (Baumeister)
 Healthy

Basking and Blasting
 Group

membership may enhance positive feelings about self (Cialdini, 1976)
– Basking - Linking oneself to winners

– Blasting - Criticizing a rival group
 People

show a stronger tendency to blast (negative) than bask (positive)

Basking and Blasting
 Loyal

fans experience changes in their own confidence level based on the success or failure of their team
– Losing had a stronger effect than winning

Low Self-Esteem
 Research

on Low Self-Esteem

– Do not want to fail
– Self-concept confusion – Focus on self-protection – More prone to emotional highs and lows
 Myth

of Low-Self Esteem in United States

Distorted Perceptions of Nondepressed
 Positive


– Overestimate good qualities – Underestimate faults – Overestimate control over events – Unrealistically optimistic

Self-Deception Strategies
 Self

Serving Bias

 More
 Junk

skeptical of bad feedback
Mail Theory of Self-Deception

 Comparisons


with those slightly

 Skew

impressions of others to highlight own good traits as unusual

Benefits of High SelfEsteem  Initiative
– Confidence you can do the right thing
– More adventurous in activities
 Feels


– Helps one to overcome bad feelings

– If they fail, more likely to try again

Why Do We Care About Self-Esteem?
 Sociometer


– Self-esteem is a measure of social acceptability
 Self-esteem

feels good

– Theory of terror management

Negative Aspects of High Self-Esteem
 Narcissism

– Subset of high self-esteem – Tend to be more aggressive and violent
 Higher


– Tend to think their group is better

Pursuit of Self-Esteem
 May

have harmful consequences

– Can compromise pursuit of competence – Impairs autonomy – Pressure to meet expectations of others

– Weakens individual intrinsic motivation
– Impairs learning – Can damage relationships

– Can be harmful to health

 Behaviors

to others

that convey an image

 Public


– More important than private selfesteem
 Public


– Acting for the audience

Functions of SelfPresentation
 Social


– Increase chance of acceptance and maintain place within the group
 Claiming


– Social validation of claims to identity

Good Self-Presentation
 Demonstrate

Positive Traits

 Behave

with Consideration of Audience
– Tendency toward favorable presentation

 Tradeoff  Modesty

– More prevalent in long-term relationships
 Risky


representations of the self.  Now commonly seen as a set of multidimensional and hierarchically organized domains of self-concept, e.g.,
– Physical Self-Concept – Academic Self-Concept – Social Self-Concept
 Same-Sex Relations  Opposite-Sex Relations  Parent Relations, etc.

 Cognitive

 Top-down

vs. bottom-up debate


in one‟s capacity to succeed at a given task.

e.g. Public Speaking Self-Efficacy

recommended specific rather than general measures of Self-Efficacy.

 e.g.

Social Self-Efficacy for Relating to Teachers

1. I can get along with most of my teachers. 2. I can go and talk with most of my teachers. 3. I can get my teachers to help me if I have problems with other students. 4. I can explain what I think to most of my teachers. 5. I ask the teacher to tell me how well I'm doing in class. (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 2005)

Rogers: Self Congruence



Incongruence  Anxiety  Defense

Self has Evolutionary Functions
 


e.g., access to resources

Self-organization / Self-complexity

e.g., adaptability & self-insight/self-control

 


e.g., for increased likelihood of mating

Social comparison Social control

e.g., motivation to improve
e.g., storage of social norms and rules

Self has Adaptational Functions

“People‟s selves allow them to regulate their own behavior, an advantage for both self and group.”

Self has Adaptational Functions
“The self can serve various social psychological functions; having a self is not only knowing where your skin ends, but also how to get along in a group.” (Fiske, 2004, p. 176)


People generally see themselves as more complex and others as less complex.

Self-Complexity There are individual variations in self-complexity, with selfcomplexity being advantageous
e.g., less depressed, better able to handle stress, etc.


…includes having multiple possible selves.

Social Comparison
Everyone uses social comparison to:  Understand how they are doing
(through comparison with similar others) (through downward comparison)
 Feel  To


(through upward comparison)


Social Feedback

Symbolic Interactionism: All self perceptions are based on one‟s history of social interactions.

Social Feedback

Reflected Appraisal: One‟s sense of self is based on how one perceives that others perceives one.

Social Feedback

Spotlight Effect: People tend to think other people notice and evaluate them more than they actually do.

Social Feedback

Transparency Effect: People tend to think that their inner self „leaks out‟ and is more obvious than it really is.

Self Discrepancies Actual-Ideal -> Promotion Focus (failure -> Depression)

Self Discrepancies Ideal-Ought -> Prevention Focus (failure -> Anxiety)

Self Discrepancies
Self-Evaluation Maintenance Theory –More relevant the comparison, the more threat –Closer the person is, the more emotion (+ve or –ve)

Strategic Self Presentation
 Ingratiation

(being liked)

 Self-Promotion  Intimidation

(being competent)
(being in control) (Worthy, saintly)

 Exemplification
 Supplication



(adjusts behavior to situation; monitors situation)
(principled attitudes guide behavior)




 Monitoring

and controlling selfpresentation and behavior uses up valuable self-regulatory resources.

 Attention

directed at the self

– Private self-awareness – Public self-awareness
 Usually

involves evaluative comparison


In general, people spend little time actually thinking about themselves.
(but a lot of time is spent thinking about self-presentation and selfpreservation)


(e.g., mirrors, cameras, audiences, selfdevelopment exercises, increase selfawareness)



differences in selfconsciousness

Self Compared to Standards
 Concepts

of how things might possibly be
– Ideals, norms, expectations, moral principles, laws, past experiences

 Around

age 2, begin use of standards
– Beginning of self-awareness

Self-Awareness and Behavior
–improves behavior
–enables people to be more socially desirable


Causes us to notice selfdiscrepancies and can produce temporary reductions in self-esteem.


To cope, we either adjust our behavior to meet our standards or withdraw from self-focusing situations.
e.g., watch TV, play sport, alcohol, suicide.

Purpose of Self-Awareness

the perspective of other people


of goals

behavior in pursuit

 Appraisal

Why People Seek SelfKnowledge
Motive Motive

– Looking for the truth about oneself
 Self-Enhancement

– Looking for flattering things about self
 Consistency


– Looking for confirmation about current belief about self

When Motives Compete
 Appraisal

Motive Motive

– Weakest motive
 Self-Enhancement

– Strongest motive (emotional appeal)
 Consistency


– Second preference (cognitive appeal)

Self-Knowledge and the Duplex Mind
 Automatic  Modesty


– Automatic, self-enhancing
– Conscious, deliberate control

Self and Information Processing
 Self-Reference


– Information bearing on self is processed more deeply and remembered better
 Endowment


– Items gain in value to the person who owns them

Can Self-Concept Change?
 Self-Concept


is consistent with public

– People expect you to stay the same – Changing social environment may change inner self – Convince others that you have changed – Allow others to see your changed behavior



Self Groups

Fiske, S. T. (2004). The self: Social to the core. In S. T. Fiske (2004). Social beings: A core motives approach to social psychology. (Ch 5, pp. 169 – 214). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.  Hoover-Dempsey, K.V., & Sandler, H.M. (2005). Final Performance Report for OERI

Grant # R305T010673: The Social Context of Parental Involvement: A Path to Enhanced Achievement. Presented to Project Monitor,
Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, March 22, 2005.

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