Chapter Outline

  1. Self-Concept
    1. The nature of self-concept (a set of beliefs about one's personal qualities and typical behavior)
      1. People generally have a number of different self-concepts
        1. Different self-concepts are characterized by relatively distinct thoughts and feelings
        2. The self-concept currently accessible is called working self-concept
      2. Self-concepts can influence future behavior
        1. Possible selves: one's conceptions about the kind of person one might become in the future
        2. Possible selves can be positive or negative
      3. Self-concepts are not easily changed
    2. Self-discrepancies: a mis-matching of self-perceptions
      1. Individuals have several different self-perceptions: actual self, ideal self, and ought self
      2. Self-discrepancies occur among the different self-perceptions
      3. Self-discrepancies and their effects
        1. Discrepancies between actual self and ideal self trigger dejection-related emotions (e.g., sadness, disappointment)
        2. Discrepancies between actual self and ought self trigger agitation-related emotions (e.g., irritability, anxiety)
        3. Factors involved in effects of self-discrepancies
          1. Amount of discrepancy experienced
          2. Awareness of discrepancy
      4. Coping with self-discrepancies
        1. Can change behavior to bring it in line with ideal or ought selves
        2. Some people blunt self-awareness with alcohol
    3. Factors shaping the self-concept
      1. Personal observations
        1. Leon Festinger's social comparison theory proposes that individuals compare themselves with others in order to assess their abilities and opinions
        2. Reference group: set of people against whom individuals compare themselves
        3. Tendency to distort observations in positive direction
      2. Feedback from others
        1. As children, we get feedback from parents
        2. Number of people who provide feedback increases as we grow older
        3. People not particularly accurate perceivers of how specific individuals evaluate them
      3. Cultural values
        1. Culture determines what behaviors are desirable and undesirable
        2. Individualism involves putting personal goals ahead of group goals and defining one's identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group memberships
          1. Associated with North American, Western European cultures
          2. People from these cultures tend to have independent view of self
        3. Collectivism involves putting group goals ahead of personal goals and defining one's identity in terms of the groups to which one belongs
          1. Associated with Asian, African, Latin American cultures
          2. People from these cultures tend to have interdependent view of self
  2. Self-esteem: one's overall assessment of one's worth as a person; it is the evaluative component of the self-concept
    1. The concept of self-esteem
      1. Research indicates that self-esteem is quite stable over time
      2. Studying self-esteem is difficult
        1. Questions about the validity of measures
        2. Often difficult to separate cause from effect
    2. Importance of self-esteem
      1. Recent research suggests that individuals with low self-esteem have less clear self-views
      2. Low self-esteem associated with tendency to develop emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, and irritability; also associated with less effective social skills
      3. Self-esteem tends to operate in self-perpetuating fashion
      4. High self-esteem may not always be good
        1. Unrealistically high self-esteem is referred to as narcissism — the tendency to regard oneself as grandiosely self-important.
        2. This may play a role in hostility, aggression seen in partner abuse, hate crimes, rape, etc.
    3. Determinants of self-esteem
      1. Tendencies for high or low self-esteem probably established early in childhood
        1. Evidence that parental involvement, acceptance, support, and exposure to clearly defined limits have marked influence on children's self-esteem
        2. Baumrind has studied the effects of variations in two dimensions of parenting, acceptance and control, on children's self esteem.
        3. The four styles are: authoritative (high acceptance/high control); authoritarian (low acceptance/high control); permissive (high acceptance/low control); neglectful (low acceptance/low control). Good self-esteem appears to be related to authoritative parenting.
        4. Parents' sincere interest in their children most strongly related to development of positive self-concept
      2. Self-judgments also important
    4. Ethnicity, gender and self-esteem
      1. Research indicates that minority group members often have high self-esteem, which contradicts common assumptions
      2. Minority group members use strategies to protect self-esteem
        1. Attribute negative appraisals to prejudice
        2. Devalue qualities on which group does poorly, value qualities on which group excels
        3. Use own group as dominant reference group
      3. Role models play particularly important role in development of self-esteem
  3. Basic principles of self-perception
    1. Self-attributions: inferences that people draw about the causes of their own behavior
      1. Fritz Heider was first to suggest that attribution involves personal vs. environmental factors
      2. Internal or external
        1. An elaboration of Heider's work
        2. Internal attributions: ascribe the causes of behavior to personal dispositions, traits, abilities, and feelings
        3. External attributions: ascribe the causes of behavior to situational demands and environmental constraints
        4. People who tend to attribute their setbacks to internal causes may be more prone to depression
      3. Stable or unstable
        1. A stable cause is one that is more or less permanent
          1. Examples of stable internal causes include sense of humor, intelligence
          2. Examples of stable external causes include laws, rules
        2. An unstable cause is one that is subject to change
          1. Examples of unstable internal causes include mood, motivation
          2. Examples of unstable external causes include weather, absence or presence of others
      4. Controllability-uncontrollability
        1. How much control the individual has over the situation
        2. Can vary in combinations with other two dimensions
    2. Attributional style: the tendency to use similar causal explanations for a wide variety of events in one's life--According to Martin Seligman, people tend to exhibit one of two attributional styles
      1. Optimistic explanatory style
        1. Tendency to attribute setbacks to external, unstable, and specific factors
        2. Can help people maintain positive expectations
      2. Pessimistic explanatory style
        1. Tendency to attribute setbacks to internal, stable, and global factors
        2. Appears to foster passive behavior
        3. Tied to shyness and loneliness
    3. Motives Guiding Self-Understanding
      1. The need to maintain an accurate and consistent self-image is a powerful motive
      2. People maintain consistency in number of ways
        1. Reconstruct personal history to match new information
        2. Seek out feedback and situations that confirm self-perceptions
      3. William Swann has proposed self-verification theory: people prefer to receive feedback from others that is consistent with their own self-views
    4. The need for self-enhancement
      1. Self-enhancement: the tendency to maintain positive feelings about the self
      2. Cognitive strategies used in self-enhancement
        1. Downward social comparison: defensive tendency to compare one-self with someone whose troubles are more serious than one's own
        2. Self-serving bias: tendency to attribute one's successes to personal factors and one's failures to situational factors
          1. A relatively potent strategy
          2. People may be more likely to take credit for their successes than they are to disavow their failures
        3. Basking in reflected glory: the tendency to enhance one's image by publicly announcing one's association with those who are successful
          1. Studied by Robert Cialdini and colleagues
          2. Also evidence for opposite tendency: cutting off reflected failure
        4. Self-handicapping: the tendency to sabotage one's performance to provide an excuse for possible failure
          1. Tactics include alcohol, drugs, procrastination, bad mood, etc.
          2. Men use strategy more than women
          3. Individual differences in reasons for self-handicapping
  4. Self-regulation: the work of directing and controlling one's behavior
    1. Correlates of self-efficacy (people's conviction that they can achieve goals)
      1. Affects people's commitment to goals, performance on tasks, and persistence toward goals
      2. People with high self-efficacy anticipate success
      3. Related to career choice
    2. Developing self-efficacy
      1. Mastery experiences
        1. Involves establishing a history of mastering new skills
        2. Suggests that goals should be high, but attainable
      2. Vicarious experiences
        1. Involves watching others perform a skill you want to learn
        2. Important that model does not experience negative consequences
      3. Persuasion and encouragement
        1. Involves encouragement from others
        2. Encouragement should be accompanied by concrete suggestions
      4. Positive interpretation of emotional arousal
    3. Self-defeating behavior
      1. Self-defeating behaviors are seemingly intentional actions that thwart a person's self-interest.
        1. In deliberate self —destruction, people want to harm themselves. Most people who engage in this type of behavior are suffering from psychological disorders, but not all are.
        2. Tradeoffs are acts in which people accept the possibility of self-harm in the course of pursuing a desirable goal.
        3. Counterproductive strategies involve the pursuit of desirable goals with misguided strategies.
        4. When people pursue these strategies, it is usually not a desire for self-harm that motivates them but rather distorted judgments and the need to escape from painful feelings.
  5. Self-presentation
    1. Involves maintenance of public self: an image or facade presented to others in social interactions
    2. Impression management
      1. Impression management: usually conscious efforts by people to influence how others think of them
      2. Social norms require us to engage in careful self-presentation
      3. Generally, we try to make positive impression on others
      4. Self-presentation strategies
        1. Ingratiation: behaving in ways to make oneself likable to others
          1. Giving compliments
          2. Doing favors
          3. Presenting a favorable self-image
        2. Self-promotion
        3. Exemplification
        4. Intimidation
        5. Supplication
      5. Perspectives on self-presentation
        1. Most research conducted on first meetings between strangers
        2. Dianne Tice and colleagues confirmed tendency for people to make positive impressions on strangers, but shift toward modesty when interacting with friends
        3. Need to project positive image may lead to dangerous practices (e.g., unprotected sex)
    3. Self-monitoring: the degree to which people attend to and control the impressions they make on others
      1. High self-monitors actively seek information about how they are expected to behave and then try to behave accordingly
      2. High self-monitors tend to be good at self-presentation
      3. Low self-monitors are more likely to express their true beliefs
      4. High and low self-monitors tend to see themselves differently
        1. Low self-monitors tend to see themselves as having strong principles
        2. High self-monitors tend to see themselves as flexible, pragmatic
    4. Self-presentation and authenticity
      1. People may come to believe their fabricated self-presentations
      2. Probably a good idea to avoid going overboard on self-presentation efforts
  6. Application: Building self-esteem
    1. Self-esteem is important component of self-concept
      1. Overly negative self-image can contribute to behavioral problems
      2. Overly positive image can also cause problems, but generally not as severe
    2. Guidelines for building self-esteem
      1. Recognize that you control your self-image
      2. Don't let others set your goals
      3. Recognize unrealistic goals
      4. Modify negative self-talk
      5. Emphasize your strengths
      6. Work to improve yourself
      7. Approach others with positive outlook