Nature of the Social Self
- The social self can be thought of as having three primary components: the individual self, the relational self, and the collective self, which may differ in prominence across individuals.
Origins of Self-Knowledge
- The social self has several foundations, including socialization by family members and other important people. Reflected self-appraisals, our beliefs about what others think of us, help us gain self-knowledge. The social self is shaped by construal processes.
- The social self is shaped by the current situation in many ways. For example, people in Western cultures tend to define themselves according to what distinguishes them from others in the social context.
- The self is profoundly shaped by whether people live in independent or interdependent cultures.
- Women generally emphasize their relationships and define themselves in an interdependent way, and men generally emphasize their uniqueness and construe themselves in an independent way.
- People rely on social comparison to learn about their own abilities, attitudes, and personal traits.
- The social self can also be thought of as a narrative, or story, that we tell to make sense of our goals, conflicts, and changing identities.
Organization of Self-Knowledge
- Self-schemas, the most basic organizational units of self-knowledge, help guide construal of and memory for social information.
- People differ in their levels of self-complexity. More complex self-representations enable us to be more resilient in response to negative, self-relevant events.
- Trait self-esteem tends to be a stable part of identity, and state self-esteem changes according to different contextual factors, such as personal failure or the poor performance of a beloved sports team.
- Our self-esteem is defined by particular domains of importance, or contingencies of self-worth, and by our being accepted by others.
- Self-esteem is more important and elevated in Western than in East Asian cultures.
- Studies have linked various forms of antisocial behavior with narcissistic forms of self-esteem.
Motives Driving Self-Evaluation
- The motives for self-evaluation include the desire for self-enhancement and for self-verification.
- The motivation to have elevated self-esteem guides the maintenance of relationships that allow us to engage in favorable social comparisons and provide esteem-enhancing pride taken in relationship partners’ successes.
- Having a stable set of self-beliefs gives people a sense of coherence and predictability.
Self-Regulation: Motivating and Controlling the Self
- Possible selves, which represent who people aspire to be, can motivate action aimed at attaining them.
- Self-discrepancy theory investigates how people compare their actual self to both their ideal and ought selves and the emotional consequences of such comparisons.
- When people regulate their behavior with respect to ideal self standards, they have a promotion focus for attaining positive outcomes. When people regulate their behavior with respect to ought self standards, they have a prevention focus for avoiding negative outcomes.
- Self-control can produce a state of ego depletion, which makes it harder to exert further self-control.
- Self-control strategies can be implemented automatically, such as when long-term goals automatically spring to mind when people are faced with temptations that can thwart these goals.
- Self-presentation theory considers the self to be a dramatic performer in the public realm. People typically seek to create and maintain a favorable public impression of themselves. Face refers to the public image people want others to believe about them. People engage in self-monitoring to ensure that their behavior fits the demands of the social context.
- People protect their public self through self-handicapping behaviors, which can explain away possible failure.
- Face concerns and self-presentation shape social communication. On-record communication is direct; off-record communication is indirect and subtle.