Ch 3 PP

Chapter 3
The Social Self
The Role of the “Self”
• Capacity for self-reflection is necessary for
– Private, “inner” self
• Self is heavily influenced by social factors.
– Public, “outer” self
The ABCs of the Self
• Affect: How do we evaluate ourselves,
enhance our self-images, and defend against
threats to our self-esteem?
• Behavior: How do we regulate our actions and
present ourselves according to interpersonal
• Cognition: How do we come to know
ourselves, develop a self-concept, and
maintain a stable sense of identity?
The Self-Concept
• Self is an important object of our attention.
– Cocktail party effect.
• Self-Concept: The sum total of beliefs that
people have about themselves.
• Self-concept is made up of self-schemas.
– Self-Schema: Beliefs about oneself that guide
processing of self-relevant information.
• Self-knowledge through looking inward at
one’s own thoughts and feelings. Looking
glass self.
• But does introspection always lead to accurate
– Wilson (2002): Introspection can sometimes
impair self-knowledge! How?
Other Problems With Introspection
• We have difficulty in predicting responses to
future emotional events.
– Affective Forecasting
• We tend to overestimate the strength and
duration of our emotional reactions.
– For negative events, we do not fully appreciate
our psychological coping mechanisms.
– We focus only on the emotional impact of a single
event, overlooking the effects of other life
Perceptions of Our Own Behavior
• Daryl Bem (1972): People can learn about
themselves simply by watching their own
• Self-Perception Theory: When internal cues
are difficult to interpret, people gain insight by
observing their own behavior.
– But only in the absence of compelling situational
Self-Perceptions of Emotion/ Affect
• Facial Feedback Hypothesis: Changes in facial
expression can lead to changes in the
subjective experience of emotions.
• Laird (1974): Facial expressions affect emotion
through process of self-perception.
– Alternative explanation: Facial movements evoke
physiological changes that produce an emotional
Self-Perceptions of Motivation
• Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivation.
– Intrinsic Motivation: Originates in factors within a
– Extrinsic Motivation: Originates in factors outside
the person
• What happens to intrinsic motivation once a
reward is no longer available?
– Overjustification effect
• Should rewards be offered?
Social Comparison Theory
• Festinger (1954): When uncertain about our
abilities or opinions, we evaluate self through
comparisons with similar others.
• Key Questions:
– When do we turn to others for comparative
– With whom do we choose to compare ourselves?
Autobiographical Memories (cont.)
• Essential for a coherent self-concept.
• Typically report more events from the recent
than the distant past.
• Flashbulb memories serve as prominent
landmarks in our autobiographies.
• Autobiographical memory is a vital part of,
and can be shaped by, our identity.
– Often motivated to distort the past in ways that
are self-inflated.
Cultural Influences on the Self-Concept
• Self-concept is also influenced by cultural
• Contrasting cultural orientations:
– Individualism: One’s culture values the virtues of
independence, autonomy, and self-reliance.
– Collectivism: One’s culture values the virtues of
interdependence, cooperation, and social
Why Do We Have
a Need for Self-Esteem?
• Self-esteem: Affective component of self, consisting
of a person’s positive and negative self-evaluations
• Satisfying this need is critical to our entire outlook on
• Those with a positive self-image tend to be happy,
healthy, productive, and successful.
• Those with a negative self-image tend to be more
depressed, pessimistic about the future, and prone
to failure.
• But does high self-esteem ensure desirable life
Are There Gender
and Race Differences?
• Like individuals, social and cultural groups
differ in their self-esteem.
• Gender differences?
– Among adolescents and young adults, males
outscore females on various general measures of
– But this difference is very small, particularly
among older adults.
• Racial differences?
– Blacks have tended to score higher
Self-Discrepancy Theory
• Self-esteem is defined by the match — or
mismatch — between how we see ourselves
and how we want to see ourselves.
• Self-esteem depends on a number of factors:
– Amount of discrepancy between actual self and
– The importance of the discrepancy to the self.
– The extent to which one focuses on one’s selfdiscrepancies.
• What makes us more or less focused on our
Coping with Discomfort
• 1) “Shape up” by behaving in ways that reduce
• 2) “Ship out” by withdrawing from selfawareness
God: Like a Camera in the Sky?
• For people of faith, thinking about God should
trigger a state of self-focus in the way that
cameras and microphones do.
• Self-regulation is the process by which we
seek to control or alter our thoughts, feelings,
behaviors, and urges.
• Is self-control a limited resource that can
temporarily be depleted by usage?
• How much control do we
have? Ironic self control
Mechanisms of Self-Enhancement
• How does the average person cope with his or
her faults, inadequacies, and uncertain
• We often exhibit implicit egotism, a tendency
to hold ourselves in high regard.
• What methods do we use to rationalize or
otherwise enhance our self-esteem?
• The Better-Than-Average Effect.
• Why do we make excuses?
– Way of protecting self from seeing failure as due
to a lack of ability.
• Self-Handicapping: Behaviors designed to
sabotage one’s own performance in order to
provide a subsequent excuse for failure.
Downward Social Comparison
• When self-esteem is at stake, we tend to make
comparisons with others who are worse off.
• Will make temporal comparisons between
past and present selves.
• If experiencing a tragic life event, we tend to:
– Affiliate with others in same predicament who are
adjusting well (possible role models).
– Compare ourselves with others who are worse off.
Are Positive Illusions Adaptive?
• Those with the most realistic view of
themselves are those who are depressed or
low in self-esteem.
• Positive illusions are “health-protective”
psychological resources that help people cope
with adversity.
• But, positive illusions can lead to chronic
patterns of self-defeating behaviors.
Strategic Self-Presentation
• Our efforts to shape others’ impressions in
specific ways to gain influence, power,
sympathy, or approval.
• Common strategic self-presentation goals:
– Ingratiation: Desire to “get along” with others and
be liked
– Self-Promotion: Desire to “get ahead” and gain
respect for one’s competence
Strategic Self-Presentation
Reflections: The Multifaceted Self
• Historically, the self has been viewed as an
enduring aspect of personality.
– Stable over time and slow to change
• But at least part of the self is malleable.
– Molded by life experiences
– Varies from one situation to the next
• Self is complex and multifaceted,
not simple.