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Flashcards in The Self Part One Deck (46):

The I and Me

William James


The Me:

an object that can be observed and described
---statements about the self; I am friendly, I have brown hair; the main topic of the chapter because it can be more easily studied


The I:

does the observing and describing
---a somewhat mysterious entity; experiences life and makes decisions; people differ in level of self-awareness


The Self Across Cultures:

Two approaches: assume the self is a Western cultural artifact that has no meaning in other cultures; examine how the self and its implications might differ across cultural contexts


Individualistic Cultures

the self has an independent and separate existence


Collectivist Cultures

The self is embedded in a larger social context of obligations and relationships


Is the Self a Cultural Artifact

Some evidence that people from different cultures think of the self in fundamentally different ways


Differences in how Americans and Indians describes others:

Americans—50% trait terms: friendly, cheap, etc.; Indians—20% trait terms: what they do for others: Brings cakes to my family, has trouble giving to his family; assumption: People think of themselves in the same way they think of others.


Differences in number of the trait terms in languages

English has several times more trait terms than Chinese.


Other interpretations are possible:

20% of Indian descriptions were trait terms, so they understand the concept; phrases given by Indian participants may still be traits, b


Individualist and Collectivist Selves

This is the second approach to research


Western Self:

Relatively separate entity


Eastern Self

more integrated into the social and cultural context



The need for positive self-regard may be felt less acutely by a member of a collectivist culture because individual well-being is more connected to the well-being of a larger group.


Individualist and Collectivist Selves




---Expectations for consistency depend on the perceived cause of behavior
---Differences in consistency are absolute, not relative
---Personality matters in both kinds of cultures


Expectations for consistency depend on the perceived cause of behavior

individualistic cultures perceive the cause of behavior to be internal and expect consistency; collectivist cultures perceive the cause of behavior to be external and do not expect consistency (and also feel less conflict about inconsistent behavior)


Differences in consistency are absolute, not relative:

In both cultures, people who are the highest on a trait in one situation are also highest in other situations (relative consistency); but individuals in collective cultures have more varied behavior across situations than individuals in individualistic cultures (absolute consistency).


Psychological Self:

Our abilities and personalities
-Influences behavior: because people are sometimes motivated to maintain their self-image
-Organizes memories
Influences impressions and judgments of others
-Organizes knowledge: one of the most important functions of the self



ability to restrain impulses and keep focused on long-term goals


Information processing filter:

helps us focus on, remember, and organize the information that matters to us


Help us understand others:

helps with empathy, by imagining how we would feel



reminds us where we fit in our relations with others (position in the family and community)


Declarative Knowledge

the facts and impressions that we consciously know and can describe; an overall opinion (self-esteem) and more detailed opinion


Procedural knowledge

knowledge expressed through actions rather than words


Relational Self

patterns of social skills and styles of relating to others; extraverted people are more likely to seek out social interaction and start conversations


Implicit Self

unconscious self-knowledge; we are not aware of these characteristics, but they influence our behavior



Your overall opinion about whether you are good or bad, worthy or unworthy, or somewhere in between


Low Self Esteem

is related to dissatisfaction with life, hopelessness, depression, loneliness, and delinquency; these might be warning signs that something is wrong (sociometer theory); may motivate people to restore their reputations


Attempts to increase self-esteem may be detrimental

by making people more aware that they do not have the positive perceptions of themselves that they would like


Self Esteem can be too high

self-enhancement is related to problems in relationships, worse mental health, and maladjustment; arrogant, abusive, and criminal behavior; and narcissism


How to legitimately increase self esteem:

accomplish important tasks


The Self-Schema

all of one’s ideas about the self, organized into a coherent system


Description of the Self-Schema

---Where the declarative self resides
---Can be assessed with S data or B data
---May have important consequences for how one processes information
---Not based only on memories of specific events


May have important consequences for how one processes information

easier to remember information about the self that fits with one’s self-schema; process information related to self-schema more quickly; limit seeing beyond one’s self-image or by viewing things in a rigid way that fits with one’s self-image.


Not based only on memories of specific events

Case studies of two people who lost memory of specific life events showed that they still knew what their personalities were like and had general knowledge of themselves; suggests the self-schema is not dependent on memories for specific events.


B Data:

reaction times when determining whether a trait term was “me” or “not me”—schematics possessed faster reaction time to schema relevant traits


Self-reference effect:

the enhancement of long-term memory that comes from thinking of how information relates to the self


Increases accessibility:

because the knowledge structure related to the self is rich, well-developed, and often used


Self-Reference and Memory

---Explains why your most meaningful memories stay with you the longest
----Depends on culture
-------the self-reference effect may work differently in different cultures; for Chinese people, information thought about in terms of one’s mother or father was remembered as well as information thought about in terms of the self, which suggests mother and father are included in the self-concept


The Declarative Self: Self-Efficacy

----One’s beliefs about the degree to which one will be able to accomplish a goal, if one tries
----Sets the limits for what we attempt to do
-----May form the foundations of personality


My form the foundations of personality

This is the view of Dweck


Possible Selves

the images we have, or can construct, of the other possible ways we might be


Possible future selves may affect goals:

Who you think you will be or what role you will have may influence the goals you set.


Evidence that affects mate preferences

People who were asked to imagine themselves as married with children and working as a homemaker preferred mates who were older and could provide for them (consistent with what women typically report, so women may be more likely to perceive homemaker as a future possible self than men).


Want future selves that fulfill the needs for self-esteem, competence, and meaning:

People want their future self to be similar to how they are now (we want continuity of identity)