Chapter 3 - The Self
• What is the Self?
• What does the Self Do?
What is the Self?
Three Main Parts
Self Knowledge
– Self Awareness
– Self Schema
Interpersonal Self
– Public Self
– “Persona”
Agent Self
– Executive Function
– Active Self
Where does the Self Come From?
• Interaction between biology and the
sociocultural environment
– Is there a self without others?
– How is your self as defined related to
Functions of the Self
• Organizational Function
– Self-Knowledge/Schemas
– Who am I?
– How should I present myself?
– Self-Control
– How can I fit into Society?
– What Roles should I fill?
Cultural Differences of Selfhood
• Independent self-construal (Individualistic)
– What makes the self different
• Interdependent self-construal (Collectivist)
– What connects the self to the group
• Begins with Introspection
– We don’t look inward much
– When we do, we might not be aware of our
true self
• Self-Focused Attention
– Private self-awareness
– Public self-awareness
• Usually involves evaluative comparison
Purpose of Self-Awareness
• Self-regulation
• See how others view you
• Manage behavior as you pursue goals
Self Compared to Standards
• Concepts of how things might possibly be
– Ideals, norms, expectations, moral
principles, laws, past experiences
– Where do these standards come from?
• Around age 2, begin use of standards
– Beginning of self-awareness
Self Awareness Theory
Duvall & Wicklund, 1972
Situation causes Self-Awareness
We become Self-Aware
We experience a Discrepancy
Options: Change or Escape
But current research says how we feel about
our potential of reaching the standard may
alter this reaction.
Self-Awareness and Behavior
• Self-awareness
– Improves behavior
• Act more socially appropriate
• Adhere to personal standards
• Escaping Self-Awareness
– Why escape?
– Methods
Where Self Knowledge Comes From
1. Looking Outside
• Looking-Glass Self
(Cooley, 1902)
– You imagine how you appear to others
– You imagine how others will judge you
– You develop an emotional response
• Generalized Other (Mead, 1934)
– A combination of others’ opinions
Evaluating Looking-Glass Self
• We do respond to feedback from others…
but Self-Concept and other’s opinions of us
are usually different.
• We may not know how people regard us
– People are reluctant to give us negative
– We may not be receptive to negative
2. Looking Inside
• Introspection
– Privileged Access
• Limitations of Introspection
– Development – Children under 11
– Nisbett and Wilson attack on privileged
access (1977) - Lack of metacognition
– We may know what we think and feel, but
not why – automatic processes at work
3. Looking At Others
• Social Comparison
– Upward social comparisons
– Downward social comparisons
4. Look at our Behavior
• Self-Perception Theory
• Example
(Bem, 1965)
– Intrinsic motivation
– Extrinsic motivation
• Overjustification Effect (Deci, 1971)
– Intrinsic motivation diminishes for activities
associated with expected rewards
• Self-esteem
– The value we place on ourselves.
– A judgement that we make about our
– How much we like ourselves.
What is Self-Esteem?
• High Self-Esteem
– Positive views
• Low Self-Esteem
– Absence of strong positive views
What is Self-Esteem?
– Self-serving bias
• An innate tendency to want to see
ourselves positively.
• Tend to ignore negative feedback—”junk
mail metaphor”.
– Both high and low self-esteem individuals
hold positive illusions:
• Overestimate own skills and abilities.
• Overestimate level of control over events
• Unrealistic predictions of future success.
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
Maintaining Self-Esteem
Maintaining Self-Esteem
Self-evaluative Maintenance
– We act to support our self-esteem.
Social Comparisons
– Compare our performance with others.
– The standard then affects our self-esteem.
Use Self-serving Bias
– Interpret success and failure in the context of our selfesteem.
• High self-esteem: Credit self for success and
blame failure on outside circumstances.
• Low self-esteem: Credit outside circumstances for
success and blame failure on self.
Distorted Perceptions of Nondepressed
• Positive Illusions
– Overestimate good qualities
– Underestimate faults
– Overestimate control over events
– Unrealistically optimistic
Negative Aspects of High Self-Esteem
• Narcissism
– Subset of high self-esteem
– Tend to be more aggressive and violent
• Higher Prejudice
– 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
Self = Product of Social Interaction
• Social Self - Persona
• Regulates Social Behavior
• Culture
• Looking Glass Self / Generalized Others
• Social Comparisons

The Self - Donna Vandergrift Psychology, Associate Professor