Unit X - Personalityexternal image 592235_f520.jpg


Notes: (p. 479-486):

Personality:
  • Personality: an individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.
    • o Dan McAdams and Jennifer Pals (2006) suggest that it is “an individual’s unique variation on the general evolutionary design for human nature,” which gets expressed in one’s traits and cultural situation.
    • Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory proposed that childhood sexuality and unconscious motivations influence personality.
    • The humanistic approach focused on our inner capacities for growth and self-fulfillment.
The Psychoanalytic Perspective:
Exploring the Unconscious:
  • Observing patients led Freud to his “discovery” of the unconscious.
    • o Practiced free association, in which in which he told the patient to relax and say whatever came to mind, no matter how embarrassing or trivial.
      • § Believed it would allow him to retrace that line, following a chain of thought leading into the patient’s unconscious, where painful unconscious memories, often from childhood, could be retrieved and released.
        • Freud called his theory of personality and the associated treatment techniques psychoanalysis.
        • Central to Freud’s theory was his belief that the mind was mostly hidden. The conscious awareness was on the surface.
          • o Beneath that was the larger unconscious mind with its thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories.
            • § Some of these thoughts were stored in a preconscious area, where we can retrieve them into conscious awareness.
  • o There was also a mass of unacceptable passions and thoughts that we repress, or forcibly block from our consciousness because they would be too unsettling to acknowledge.
    • § Freud believed that, although we are not consciously aware of them, these troublesome feelings and ideas powerfully influence us, sometimes gaining expression in disguised forms; the work we choose, the beliefs we hold, our daily habits, our troubling symptoms.
Personality Structure:
  • Freud believes that human personality arises from a conflict between impulse and restraint, between our aggressive, pleasure-seeking biological urges and our internalized social controls over these urges.
    • o Believed personality is the result of our efforts to resolve this basic conflict; to express these impulses in ways that bring satisfaction without also bringing guilt or punishment.
    • Devised the id, ego, and super ego, three interacting systems
      • o Id: unconscious psychic energy constantly strives to satisfy basic drives to survive,reproduce, and aggress.
        • § operates on the pleasure principle: It seeks immediate gratification.
  • o Ego: as ego develops, the young child responds to the real world.The ego, operating on the reality principle, seeks to gratify the id’s impulses in realistic ways that will bring long-term pleasure.
    • § contains our partly conscious perceptions, thoughts,judgments, and memories.
  • o Superego: the voice of our moral compassthat forces the ego to consider not only the real but the ideal.
    • § Emerges at around age 4 or 5
    • § strives for perfection,judging actions and producing positive feelings of pride or negative feelings of guilt.
      • Because the superego’s demands often oppose the id’s, the ego struggles to reconcile the two.
Personality Development:
  • Freud concluded that children pass through a series of psychosexual stages, during which the id’s pleasure-seeking energies focus on distinct pleasure-sensitive areas of the body called erogenous zones.
    • o believed that during the phallic stage boys seek genital stimulation, and they develop both unconscious sexual desires for their mother and jealousy and hatred for their father, whom they consider a rival, referred to as the Oedipus Complex, or in girls, the Electra complex.
    • o Through the identification process,children’s superegos gain strength as they incorporate many of their parents’ values.
      • § Freud believed that identification with the same-sex parent provides what psychologists now call our gender identity.
  • o conflicts unresolved during earlier psychosexual stages could surface as maladaptive behavior in the adult years.
    • § At any point in the oral, anal, or phallic stages, strong conflict could lock, or fixate, the person’s pleasure-seeking energies in that stage.
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Defense Mechanisms:
  • Freud proposed that the ego protects itself with defense mechanisms: tactics that reduce or redirect anxiety by distorting reality.
    • o Repression: the basic defense mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness.
    • o Regression: individual faced with anxiety retreats to a more infantile psychosexual stage, where some psychic energy remains fixated.
    • o Reaction Formation: the ego unconsciously switches unacceptable impulses into their opposites. Thus, people may express feelings that are the opposite of their anxiety-arousing unconscious feelings.
    • o Projection: people disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing them to others.
    • o Displacement: psychoanalytic defense mechanism that shifts sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or person, as when redirecting anger toward a safer outlet.
    • o Sublimation: people re-channel their unacceptable impulses into socially approved activities.
    • o Denial:protects the person from real events that are painful to accept, either by rejecting a fact or its seriousness.
The Neo-Freudian and Psychodynamic Theorists:
  • Pioneering psychoanalysts who followed Freud, called neo-Freudians, accepted Freud’s basic ideas: the personality structures of id, ego, and superego; the importance of the unconscious; the shaping of personality in childhood; and the dynamics of anxiety and the defense mechanisms.
    • oThey diverged on:
      • §placed more emphasis on the conscious mind’s role in interpreting experience and in coping with the environment.
      • §doubted that sex and aggression were all-consuming motivations.
        • Instead, they tended to emphasize loftier motives and social interactions.
  • oAlfred Adler and Karen Horneyagreed with Freud that childhood is important.
    • §But they believed that childhood social, not sexual,tensions are crucial for personality formation.
      • Horney countered Freud’s assumptions that women have weak superegos and suffer “penis envy,” and she attempted to balance the bias she detected in this masculine view of psychology.
  • oCarl Jung placed less emphasis on social factors and agreed with Freud that the unconscious exerts a powerful influence.
    • §To Jung, the unconscious contains more than our repressed thoughts and feelings.
      • He believed we also have a collective unconscious,a common reservoir of images derived from our species’ universal experiences.
        • othe collective unconscious explains why, for many people, spiritual concerns are deeply rooted and why people in different cultures share certain myths and images, such as mother as a symbol of nurturance.

Notes: (p. 487-492):

Assessing Unconscious Process:
  • Personality assessment tools are useful to those who study personality or provide therapy. Requirements include:
    • o some sort of a road into the unconscious, to track down residue from early childhood experiences; something to move beyond surface pretensions and reveal hidden conflicts and impulses.
    • o Objective assessment tools, such as true-false questionnaires would be ineffective because they only tap into conscious surface.
    • Projective tests aim to provide this “psychological X-ray,” by asking test-takers to describe an ambiguous stimulus or tell a story about it.
      • o Ex): Thematic Apperception Test (TAT),in which people view ambiguous pictures and then make up stories about them.
      • Most widely used is the Rorschach inkblot test, in which people describe what they see in a series of inkblots.
        • o Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach (pronounced ROAR-shock) based it on a childhood game in which he and his friends dripped ink on a paper, folded it, and then said what they saw in the resulting blot.
        • o Some clinicians cherish the Rorschach, offering Rorschach-based assessments of criminals’ violence potential for judges
        • o Others view it as a helpful diagnostic tool, a source of suggestive leads, or an icebreaker and a revealing interview technique.
        • o The Society for Personality Assessment (2005) commends “its responsible use” (which would not include inferring past child sexual abuse).
        • Those who insist that the Rorschach is no emotional MRI, argue that only a few of the many Rorschach-derived scores, such as ones for hostility and anxiety, are valid.
          • o They say, moreover, that these tests are not reliable—inkblot assessments diagnose many normal adults as pathological.
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective:
Contradictory Evidence from Modern Research:
  • Today, we critique Freud’s work from a 21st century perspective, which itself will be under revision. Freud did not have access to neurotransmitter or DNA studies.
    • o Today’s developmental psychologists see our development as lifelong,not fixed in childhood.
      • § They doubt that infants’ neural networks are mature enough to sustain as much emotional trauma as Freud assumed.
      • § Some think Freud overestimated parental influence and underestimated child abuse and peer influence.
      • § They also doubt that conscience and gender identity form as the child resolves the Oedipus complex at age 5 or 6.
        • We gain our gender identity earlier and become strongly masculine or feminine even without a same-sex parent present
        • § They note that Freud’s ideas about childhood sexuality arose from his skepticism of stories of childhood sexual abuse told by his female patients; stories that some scholars believe he attributed to their own childhood sexual wishes and conflicts

Is Repression a Myth?
  • Freud’s entire psychoanalytic theory rests on his assumption that the human mind often represses offending wishes,banishing them into the unconscious until they resurface.
    • o Recover and resolve childhood’s conflicted wishes, and emotional healing should follow.
    • o Freud’s followers extended repression to explain apparently lost and recovered memories of childhood traumas.
    • o Today’s researchers acknowledge that we sometimes spare our egos by neglecting information that is threatening.
      • § Many contend that repression, if it ever occurs, is a rare mental response to terrible trauma.
  • o Some researchers believe that extreme,prolonged stress, such as the stress some severely abused children experience, might disrupt memory by damaging the hippocampus.
    • § the far more common reality is that high stress and associated stress hormones enhance memory.
The Modern Unconscious Mind:
  • Freud was right about at least one thing:We indeed have limited access to all that goes on in our minds
    • o In experiments, people have learned to anticipate the computer screen quadrant in which a character will appear next, even before being able to articulate the underlying rule
    • o The “iceberg” notion of today’s psychologists differs from that of Freud’s:
      • § the schemas that automatically control our perceptions and interpretations.
      • § the priming by stimuli to which we have not consciously attended.
      • § the right-hemisphere activity that enables the split-brain patient’s left hand to carry out an instruction the patient cannot verbalize.
      • § the parallel processing of different aspects of vision and thinking.
      • § the implicit memories that operate without conscious recall, even among those with amnesia.
      • § the emotions that activate instantly, before conscious analysis
      • § the self-concept and stereotypes that automatically and unconsciously influence how we process information about ourselves and others.
      • Our lives are guided by off-screen, out-of-sight, unconscious information processing.
      • Recent research has also provided some support for Freud’s idea of defense mechanisms(even if they don’t work exactly as Freud supposed)
        • o Roy Baumeister and his colleagues (1998) found that people tend to see their attitudes in others, a phenomenon that Freud called projection and that today’s researchers call the false consensus effect, the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors.
        • Recent history has supported Freud’s idea that we defend ourselves against anxiety, but the contemporary idea differs from Freud’s.
          • o Terror-management theory: a theory of death-related anxiety; explores people’s emotional and behavioral responses to reminders of their impending death.
            • § Faced with a threatening world, people act not only to enhance their self-esteem but also to adhere more strongly to worldviews that answer questions about life’s meaning.
Freud’s Ideas as Scientific Theory:
  • Psychologists also criticize Freud’s theory for its scientific shortcomings.
    • o Freud’s theory rests on few objective observations, and parts of it offer few testable hypotheses.
    • o It offers after-the-fact explanations of any characteristic (of one person’s smoking, another’s fear of horses, another’s sexual orientation) yet fails to predict such behaviors and traits.
    • o Critics of Freud share the viewpoint that his theories are based on childhood sexuality, repression, dream analysis, and after-the-fact speculation.
    • o Supporters also note that some of Freud’s ideas are enduring.
      • § It was Freud who drew our attention to the unconscious and the irrational, to our self-protective defenses, to the importance of human sexuality, and to the tension between our biological impulses and our social well-being.
      • § It was Freud who challenged our self-righteousness, punctured our pretensions, and reminded us of our potential for evil.
The Humanistic Perspective:
  • By the 1960’s some personality psychologists discontent with the negativity of Freudian theory and the mechanistic psychology of B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism, resulting in the emergence of humanistic psychologists who strive for self-determination and self-realization.
    • o studied people through their own self-reported experiences and feelings.
      • § Two pioneers: Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) and Carl Rogers(1902–1987)
Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizing Person:
  • Maslow proposed that we are motivated by a hierarchy of needs.
    • o If our physiological needs are met, we become concerned with personal safety; if we achieve a sense of security, we then seek to love, to be loved, and to love ourselves; with our love needs satisfied, we seek self-esteem.
    • o Once we reach self-esteem, we seek self-actualization (the process of fulfilling our potential) and self-transcendence (meaning, purpose, and communion beyond the self).
    • o Maslow(1970) developed his ideas by studying healthy, creative people rather than troubled clinical cases.
      • § based his description of self-actualization on a study of those who seemed notable for their rich and productive lives
        • reported that these people shared certain characteristics:They were self-aware and self-accepting, open and spontaneous, loving and caring, and not paralyzed by others’ opinions.
          • o Secure in their sense of who they were, their interests were problem-centered rather than self-centered.
          • o They focused their energies on a particular task, one they often regarded as their mission in life.
          • o Most enjoyed a few deep relationships rather than many superficial ones.
          • o Many had been moved by spiritual or personal peak experiences that surpassed ordinary consciousness.
Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Perspective:
  • Carl Rogers agreed with much of Maslow’s thinking, believing that people are basically good and endowed with self-actualizing tendencies.
    • oRogers(1980) believed that a growth-promoting climate required three conditions: genuineness, acceptance, and empathy.
      • §People nurture our growth by being genuine; by being open with their own feelings, dropping their facades, and being transparent and self-disclosing.
      • §People also nurture our growth by being accepting; by offering us what Rogers called unconditional positive regard.
        • Unconditional positive regard: a caring, accepting, nonjudgmental attitude, which Carl Rogers believed would help clients to develop self-awareness and self-acceptance.
  • opeople nurture our growth by being empathic; by sharing and mirroring our feelings and reflecting our meanings.
  • Maslow and Rogers believed that a central feature of personality is one’s self-concept: all the thoughts and feelings we have in response to the question,“Who am I?”
    • oIf our self-concept is positive, we tend to act and perceive the world positively.
    • oIf it is negative, if in our own eyes we fall far short of our ideal self, said Rogers, we feel dissatisfied and unhappy.

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Notes: (p. 493-503):

The Trait Perspective:
  • Rather than focusing on unconscious forces and thwarted growth opportunities, some researchers attempt to define personality in terms of stable and enduring behavior patterns.
    • o Sam Gamgee’s loyalty and optimism: can be traced back to Gordon Allport, who unlike Freud describes personality in terms of fundamental traits, people’s characteristic behaviors and conscious motives.
      • § He was concerned less with explaining individual traits than with describing them.
  • o Isabel Briggs Myers (1987) and her mother, Katharine Briggs, also wanted to describe important personality differences.
    • § attempted to sort people according to Carl Jung’s personality types, based on their responses to 126 questions.
    • § The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), available in 21 languages, is taken by more than 2 million people a year, mostly for counseling, leadership training, and work-team development.
      • It offers choices, such as “Do you usually value sentiment more than logic, or value logic more than sentiment?” Then it counts the test-taker’s preferences, labels them as indicating, say, a “feeling type,” or “thinking type,” and feeds them back to the person in complimentary terms.
      • Most people agree with their announced type profile, which mirrors their declared preferences.
        • o They may also accept their label as a basis for being matched with work partners and tasks that supposedly suit their temperaments.
Exploring Traits:
  • Classifying people as one or another distinct personality type fails to capture their full individuality.
    • o By placing people on several trait dimensions simultaneously, psychologists can describe countless individual personality variations.
Factor Analysis:
  • One way has been to propose traits,such as anxiety, that some theory regards as basic.
    • o factor analysis: a statistical procedure that identifies clusters of correlated test items that tap basic components of intelligence (such as spatial ability or verbal skill).
    • British psychologists Hans Eysenck and Sybil Eysenck believed that we can reduce many of our normal individual variations to two or three dimensions,including extraversion–introversion and emotional stability–instability.
Biology and Personality:
  • Brain-activity scans of extraverts add to the growing list of traits and mental states that have been explored with brain-imaging procedures.
    • o includes intelligence,impulsivity, addictive cravings, lying, sexual attraction, aggressiveness, empathy, spiritual experience, and even racial and political attitudes
      • § Such studies indicate that extraverts seek stimulation because their normal brain arousal is relatively low.
      • Our biology influences our personality in other ways as well. Our genes have much to say about the temperament and behavioral style that help define our personality.
        • o Jerome Kagan has attributed differences in children’s shyness and inhibition to their autonomic nervous system reactivity.
          • § Given a reactive autonomic nervous system, we respond to stress with greater anxiety and inhibition.
  • o Samuel Gosling and his colleagues report that personality differences among dogs (in energy, affection, reactivity, and curious intelligence) are as evident, and as consistently judged, as personality differences among humans.
Assessing Traits:
  • Personality inventories, longer questionnaires covering a wide range of feelings and behaviors, are designed to assess several traits at once.
    • o Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) assesses “abnormal” personality tendencies rather than normal personality traits.
      • § illustrates a good way of developing a personality inventory.
      • § Starke Hathaway, one of its creators, compared his effort to that of Alfred Binet, who eveloped the first intelligence test by selecting items that identified children who would probably have trouble progressing normally in French schools.
      • § MMPI items were empirically derived, or from a large pool of items.
        • It was then grouped the questions into 10 clinical scales, including scales that assess depressive tendencies, masculinity–femininity, and introversion–extraversion.
  • o In contrast to the subjectivity of most projective tests, personality inventories are scored objectively—so objectively that a computer can administer and score them.
  • Objectivity does not, however, guarantee validity, i.e. MMPI test takers can give socially accepted responses in order to create a desired, socially- accepted response.
The Big Five Factors:
  • A test of encompassing five factors, dubbed the Big Five, tests a person’s position on five dimensions (conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion) and it has said much of what there is to say about your personality.
    • o How stable are these traits? In adulthood,the Big Five traits are quite stable.
      • § Some tendencies—neuroticism (emotional instability),extraversion, and openness—wane a bit during early and middle adulthood, and others (agreeableness and conscientiousness) rise
  • o How heritable are they? Heritability(the extent to which individual differences are attributable to genes) varies with the diversity of people studied.
    • § it generally runs 50 percent or a tad more for each dimension, and genetic influences are similar in different nations
  • o Do the Big Five traits predict other personal attributes? Yes,and EX: Highly conscientious people earn better high school and university grades
Evaluating the Trait Perspective:
The Person-Situation Controversy:
  • When we explore person-situation controversy, we look for genuine personality traits that persist over time and across situations.
    • oPersonality trait scores are positively correlated with scores obtained seven years later, and that as people grow older their personality stabilizes.
    • oInterests, careers, relationships may change
    • Traits are socially significant:
      • oThey influence our health,our thinking, and our job performance
        • §Studies that follow lives through time show that personality traits rival socioeconomic status and cognitive ability as predictors of mortality, divorce, and occupational attainment
        • Although our personality traits may be both stable and potent,the consistency of our specific behaviors from one situation to the next is another matter.
          • opeople do not act with predictable consistency;
            • §Walter Mischel’s studies of college students’ conscientiousness revealed but a modest relationship between a student’s being conscientious on one occasion(say, showing up for class on time) and being similarly conscientious on another occasion (say, turning in assignments on time).
            • people’s average outgoingness,happiness, or carelessness over many situations is predictable
              • oWhen rating someone’s shyness or agreeableness, this consistency enables people who know someone well to agree on their ratings
              • We have genetically influenced personality traits;
                • omusic preferences. Classical, jazz, blues, and folk music lovers tend to be open to experience and verbally intelligent; country, pop, and religious music lovers tend to be cheerful, outgoing, and conscientious
                • obedrooms and offices. Our personal spaces display our identity and leave a behavioral residue (in our scattered laundry or neat desktop).
                • opersonal Web sites. Is a personal Web site or a Facebook profile also a canvas for self-expression? Or is it an opportunity for people to present themselves in false or misleading ways?
                • oE-mail. You can detect a person’s voice through their e-mail.
                • In unfamiliar, formal situations—perhaps as a guest in the home of a person from another culture—our traits remain hidden as we carefully attend to social cues.
                • In familiar,informal situations—just hanging out with friends—we feel less constrained, allowing our traits to emerge
                  • oOur expressive styles—our animation, manner of speaking, and gestures—are impressively consistent.
                  • Some people are naturally expressive (and therefore talented at pantomime and charades); others are less expressive (and therefore better poker players).
                  • Even our conversational word use expresses our personality.
                    • oOverall, we can say that at any moment the immediate situation powerfully influences a person’s behavior, especially when the situation makes clear demands.

Notes: (p.503-510):

The Social-Cognitive Perspective:
  • The social-cognitive perspective on personality proposed by Albert Banduraemphasizes the interaction of our traits with our situations.
    • o believe we learn many of our behaviors either through conditioning or by observing others and modeling our behavior after theirs.
    • o emphasize the importance of mental processes: What we think about our situations affects our behavior.
Reciprocal Influences:
  • Banduraviews the person-environment interaction as reciprocal determinism:
    • o the interacting influences of behavior, internal cognition, and environment.
      • § Different people choose different environments.
      • § Our personalities shape how we interpret and react to events.
      • § Our personalities help create situations to which we react.
  • o Behavior emerges from the interplay of external and internal influences.
    • § At every moment, our behavior is influenced by our biology, our social and cultural experiences, and our cognition and dispositions.
Personal Control:
  • In studying how we interact with our environment, social-cognitive psychologists emphasize our sense of personal control; whether we learn to see ourselves as controlling, or as controlled by, our environment.
    • o Correlate people’s feelings of control with their behaviors and achievements.
    • o Experiment, by raising or lowering people’s sense of control and noting the effects.
Internal Versus External Locus of Control:
  • One side of the perceptions of control is hat psychologist Julian Rotter called an external locus of control: the perception that chance or outside forces determine their fate.
    • o The other is an internal locus of control, those who believe that they control their own destiny.
Depleting and Strengthening Self-control:
  • Self-control, the ability to control impulses and delay gratification, predicts good adjustment,better grades, and social success.
    • o Roy Baumeister and Julia Exline(2000): like a muscle,self-control temporarily weakens after an exertion, replenishes with rest, and becomes stronger with exercise.
      • § Exercising willpower can deplete your mental energy and even deplete the blood sugar and neural activity associated with mental focus
  • o In the long run,self-control requires attention and energy.
    • § People who practice self-regulation through physical exercise and time-managed study programs can develop their self-regulation capacity.
Benefits of Personal Control:
  • People who feel helpless and oppressed often perceive control as external and may develop learned helplessness.
    • o This perception may then deepen their feelings of resignation
    • Part of the shock we feel in an unfamiliar culture comes from a diminished sense of control when we are unsure how people in the new environment will respond
      • o Similarly, people given little control over their world in prisons, factories, schools, and nursing homes experience lower morale and increased stress.
      • o Measures that increase control; i.e. allowing prisoners to move chairs, control room lights and tv, noticeably improve health and morale.
        • § In one famous study of nursing home patients, 93 percent of those encouraged to exert more control became more alert, active, and happy
        • Some freedom and control is better than none,notes Barry Schwartz (2000, 2004).
          • o But “excess of freedom” in today’s Western cultures contributes to decreasing life satisfaction,increased depression, and sometimes paralysis.
            • § Increased consumer choices,as when buying a car or phone, are not an unmixed blessing.
              • After choosing among 30 brands of jam or chocolate, people express less satisfaction than those choosing among a half-dozen options
      • § This tyranny of choice brings information overload and a greater likelihood that we will feel regret over some of the unchosen options.

Optimism Versus Pessimism:
  • One measure of how helpless or effective you feel is where you stand on optimism-pessimism.
    • o Optimism and Health: Health,too, benefits from a basic optimism.
      • § a depressed hopelessness dampens the body’s disease-fighting immune system.
      • § When dating couples wrestle with conflicts,optimists and their partners see each other as engaging constructively.
        • They tend then to feel more supported and satisfied with the resolution and with their relationship.
        • Excessive Optimism: If positive thinking in the face of adversity pays dividends,so, too, can a dash of realism.
          • o Self-disparaging explanations of past failures can depress ambition, but realistic anxiety over possible futurefailures can fuel energetic efforts to avoid the dreaded fate
            • § Success requires enough optimism to provide hope and enough pessimism to prevent complacency.
  • o Excessive optimism can blind us to real risks
    • § Neil Weinstein has shown how our natural positive-thinking bias can promote “an unrealistic optimism about future life events.”
    • Blindness to One’s Own: People often are most overconfident when most incompetent.
      • o Justin Kruger and David Dunningfound that most students scoring at the low end of grammar and logic tests believed they had scored in the top half.
        • § This “ignorance of one’s own incompetence” phenomenon has a parallel in hard-of-hearing people’s difficulty recognizing their own hearing loss.
        • § The difficulty in recognizing one’s own incompetence helps explain why so many low-scoring students are dumbfounded after doing badly on a test.
          • To judge one’s competence and predict one’s future performance, it often pays to invite others’ assessments.
Assessing Behavior in Situations:
  • Social-cognitive psychologists explore how people interact with situations.To predict behavior, they often observe behavior in realistic situations.
    • oEx: U.S. Army’s World War II strategy for assessing candidates for spy missions.
      • §Rather than using paper-and-pencil tests, Army psychologists subjected the candidates to simulated undercover conditions. They tested their ability to handle stress, solve problems, maintain leadership, and withstand intense interrogation without blowing their cover.
  • oStudent teachers are observed and evaluated several times.
    • §These procedures show a person’s past behavior patterns in similar situations.



Notes: (p. 510-518):
Evaluating the Social-Cognitive Perspective:
  • The social-cognitive perspective on personality sensitizes researchers to how situations affect, and are affected by, individuals.
    • o builds from psychological research on learning and cognition.
    • o Critics accuse the social-cognitive perspective of focusing too much on the situation that it fails to appreciate the person’s inner traits.
Exploring the self:
  • Psychology’s emphasis on people’s sense of self dates back at least to William James, who devoted more than 100 pages of his 1890 Principles of Psychology to the topic.
    • o 1943- Gordon Allport lamented that the self had become “lost to view
    • o Every year, new studies emerge on self-esteem, self-disclosure, self-awareness, self-schemas, self-monitoring, and so forth
      • § Underlying this research is an assumption that the self, as organizer of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, is the center of personality.
      • The concept of concept of possible selves put forth by Hazel Markus and her colleagues
        • o Your possible selves include your visions of the self you dream of becoming—the rich self, the successful self, the loved and admired self. They also include the self you fear becoming—the unemployed self, the lonely self, the academically failed self.
          • § such possible selves motivate us by laying out specific goals and calling forth the energy to work toward them.
          • Our self-focused perspective may motivate us, but it can also lead us to presume too readily that others are noticing and evaluating us.
            • o Thomas Gilovich (1996) - spotlight effect: overestimating others’ noticing and evaluating our appearance, performance, and blunders (as if we presume a spotlight shines on us).
The Benefits of Self-Esteem:
  • High self-esteem, a feeling of self-worth, pays dividends.
    • o People who feel good about themselves, have fewer sleepless nights; succumb less easily to pressures to conform; are more persistent at difficult tasks; are less shy, anxious, and lonely; and are just plain happier
    • o Although children’s academic self-concept—their confidence that they can do well in a subject—predicts school achievement, general self-image does not
    • Experiments do reveal an effect of low self-esteem.
      • o Temporarily deflate people’s self-image (say, by telling them they did poorly on an aptitude test or by disparaging their personality) and they will be more likely to disparage others or to express heightened racial prejudice
      • o Those who are negative about themselves also tend to be thin-skinned and judgmental
        • § In experiments, people made to feel insecure often become excessively critical, as if to impress others with their own brilliance
Self-Serving Bias:
  • Self-Serving Bias: a readiness to perceive oneself favorably.
    • o People accept more responsibility for good deeds than for bad, and for successes than for failures.
    • o Most people see themselves as better than average.
      • § Ironically, people even see themselves as more immune than others to self-serving bias
      • “All of us have inferiority complexes,” wrote John Powell (1989, p. 15). “Those who seem not to have such a complex are only pretending.”
        • o We remember and justify our past actions in self-enhancing ways.
        • We exhibit an inflated confidence in our beliefs and judgments
        • we overestimate how desirably we would act in situations where most people behave less than admirably
        • we often seek out favorable, self-enhancing information
        • we are quicker to believe flattering descriptions of ourselves than unflattering ones, and we are impressed with psychology tests that make us look good.
        • we shore up our self-image by overestimating the commonality of our foibles and by under estimating the commonality of our strengths
        • we see ourselves as making better-than-average contributions to our groups
        • we exhibit group pride
          • § Self-serving perceptions underlie conflicts ranging from blaming one’s spouse for marital discord to arrogantly promoting one’s own ethnic superiority.
          • § Finding their self-esteem threatened, people with large egos may do more than put others down; they may react violently.
            • i.e. Aryans and Holocaust
            • it can be dangerous to puncture a person’s ego à cause them to react violently
            • The effects of two types of self-esteem:
              • o Defensive self-esteem is fragile. It focuses on sustaining itself, which makes failures and criticism feel threatening.
                • § Such egotism exposes one to perceived threats, which feed anger and disorder, note Jennifer Crocker and Lora Park
                • § Thus, like low self-esteem, defensive self-esteem correlates with aggressive and antisocial behavior
  • o Secure self-esteem is less fragile, because it is less contingent on external evaluations.
    • § To feel accepted for who we are, and not for our looks, wealth, or acclaim, relieves pressures to succeed and enables us to focus beyond ourselves
    • § By losing ourselves in relationships and purposes larger than self, we may achieve a more secure self-esteem and greater quality of life.
Culture and the Self:
  • Cultures vary in the extent to which they give priority to the nurturing and expression of personal identity or group identity
    • o Individualism: giving priority to one’s own goals over group goals and defining one’s identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications.
      • § If you pride yourself on your individualism, a great deal of your identity would remain intact, the very core of your being, the sense of “me,” the awareness of your personal convictions and values.
      • § Individualists share the human need to belong. They join groups. But they are less focused on group harmony and doing their duty to the group
        • More mobile, can leave or join social groups easily
  • o Collectivism:giving priority to goals of one’s group (often one’s extended family or work group) and defining one’s identity accordingly.
    • § If set adrift in a foreign land as a collectivist, you might experience a greater loss of identity.
      • Cut off from family, groups, and loyal friends, you would lose the connections that have defined who you are.
      • § In a collectivist culture, group identifications provide a sense of belonging, a set of values, a network of caring individuals, an assurance of security.
  • o Westerners tend to place higher emphasis on self as opposed to places such as Japan.
  • o Individualism’s benefits can come at the cost of more loneliness, more divorce, more homicide, and more stress-related disease
    • § People in individualist cultures demand more romance and personal fulfillment in marriage, subjecting the relationship to more pressure