Selfcategorization Theory


SELF-CONCEPT THEORY. = self-psychology theory. Based on self-consistency theory, each individual is guided by his/her own theory of reality that, in turn, consists of a self-theory and a world-theory [cf., heliocentric theory and its influence on personal self-esteem or self-importance; the theory is the Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus' (14731543) view of the solar system in which the universe is no longer seen to revolve around humans on Earth, but the Earth is only one planet rotating on its axis and revolving around a medium-sized star, the Sun, in a small corner of the entire universe; such a view deprecates the importance of humans].

The construct of self-concept is a self-theory, and suggests that without their theories of reality and self, people would experience the world as chaotic; the self-concept is the individual's fundamental frame of reference (cf., congruence-of-images theory - the notion that in any social system people have images of themselves and others, and all people interact in ways so as to confirm these images). Information that is inconsistent with the self-theory or self-concept theory is viewed as a threat, and when the organization of a self-theory is under stress, the person defends the existing organization and attempts to assimilate new information. According to self-concept theory, two self-view stabilizing processes are called "cognitive restructuring" (e.g., the person misperceives another person's behavior in order to achieve congruency), and "selective interaction" (e.g., people choose to interact with others who confirm their self-concept). The theory asserts that the importance of a stable self-concept becomes apparent in its absence; also, a changing and uncertain self-concept can be damaging, theoretically, to one's physical health as well as to one's psychological well-being (cf., negative self-verification theory - posits that people who hold negative self-views find it uncomfortable to be with people who see them in a positive way and, therefore, have a tendency to affiliate with people who confirm their negative self-concept, self-image, or self-perception). Both self-consistency and self enhancement theories suggest that the self-concept has a powerful influence on how people perceive events; the former theory proposes that people perceive events in ways that are consistent with their self-views; and the latter theory proposes that people perceive events in ways that enhance their self-esteem [cf., virtual self - a notion in self-psychology referring to a parent's image of the new-born/neonate's self; the cognitive self versus the psychoanalytic self (Westen, 1992); and the fashioning effect - the influence that a self-determined social role has on one's own self-perception and behavior]. According to the good-enough mother hypothesis - formulated by the English psychoanalyst Donald W. Winnicott (1896-1971) - the mother is viewed as one who initially behaves toward a totally dependent infant in a way that is determined exclusively by the infant; the mother allows the infant to feel omnipotent and contributes to the infant's fantasy that the mother is part of the infant itself; later, the mother allows the child to abandon such a fantasy and separate from her in an orderly process. The good-enough mother hypothesis suggests that a mother who is "too good" interferes with the regular process of the child's separation, as well as with the normal developmental process of "selfhood." On the other hand, a mother who is too distant, or is not "good enough," generates anxiety in the child. In either scenario, the failure to provide "good-enough" mothering may disrupt the development of a healthy self-concept in the child, as well as cause disruption in adulthood of the ability to establish meaningful and healthy relationships with others [cf., Michelangelo phenomenon -named after the Italian sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), and studied by the American psychologist Stephen M. Drigotas (1966- ) and his colleagues - refers to a pattern of interpersonal/relational interdependence in which close partners influence each other's behaviors, values, and dispositions in such a way as to bring them closer to their "ideal selves"]. According to the Austrian-born American psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut (1913-1981), the "grandiose self' is a self-image that a child develops when its natural narcissism is stunted or frustrated by the mother's occasional failure to respond adequately; the "grandiose self" normally becomes more moderate as the child grows older and its parents' responses change toward the child. However, the "grandiose self" (also called the "grandiose-exhibitionist self") may remain unchanged if the child's normal developmental sequence is disrupted (e.g., the mother may never respond adequately, or she responds unrealistically or unpredictably); under such conditions, the child may develop "narcissistic personality disorder" in adulthood. In his self-psychology theory, Kohut also identifies the constituent elements of the self as the "pole of goals/ambitions," the "pole of ideals/standards," and the "arc of tension" (between the two poles seeking to activate one's basic skills and talents); he also makes distinctions between the "virtual self" (an image of the infant's self in the parent's mind), the "nuclear self' (the first organization of the self that is revealed at about two years of age), the "cohesive self" (a consistent structure that represents the normally functioning individual), and the "grandiose self" (the normally exhibitionistic and self-centered persona of the infant). In his self-presentation theory, also called role-role theory (in which roles are used to explain and account for the patterns and regularities of social interactive behavior), the Canadian-born American sociologist Erving Goffman (1922-1982) asserts that individuals exercise conscious and/or unconscious control of the impression that they create in social interactions and situations. Self-presentation is a significant form of impression management (i.e., the control and regulation of information in order to affect the attitudes/opinions of target persons). Whereas impression management may focus on shaping other people's impressions of an individual - such as oneself, an enemy, or a friend/ acquaintance - or of an event, self presentation theory focuses exclusively on controlling impressions of oneself. In general, impression formation refers to the rapid assessment or perception/understanding of the personality of another individual on the basis of a wide range of characteristics. The form of self-presentation called ingratiation is the attempt of a person to win the good opinion of a target person via methods such as "other-enhancement" - the ingratiator compliments, flatters, or gives favors to the target person; "opinion conformity" - the ingratiator pretends to share the same attitudes/opinions as the target person; and "biased self-presentation" - ingratiators of both genders emphasize their most attractive features or qualities and minimize their weak characteristics (the self-verification hypothesis suggests that each person has a self-concept that he/she wishes would be validated and accepted by others and, thereby, confirms what one already knows about oneself). In the self-monitoring activities that accompany self-presentation, the individual closely observes and controls his/her expressive behaviors (such as facial expression, emotions, dress styles, handwriting, etc.), and may often be highly responsive to social and interpersonal cues to behaviors that are appropriate ("politically correct") to the situation. The same-different theory holds that all individuals undergo a developmental self-analysis of how they compare with their peers and, from such an assessment, they come to view themselves as belonging to certain categories and not others; for example, in regard to sexual development, this approach leads one to view oneself as male, female, intersex, androphilic, gynecophilic, ambiphil-ic, transsexual, etc. (cf., Diamond & Karlen, 1980); the ego-alter theory posits that social interaction is controlled by the person's self-perception in relation to others (called "alters"); the optimal self-esteem theory is characterized by qualities associated with genuine, true, stable, and congruent high self-esteem, and the concept of authenticity serves to delineate the adaptive features of optimal self-esteem (cf., Kernis, 2003); and the self-discrepancy theory indicates how different types of discrepancies between self-state representations are related to different kinds of emotional vulnerabilities (cf., Higgins, 1987), where one domain of the self (actual; ideal; ought) and one view on the self (own; significant other) constitute each type of self-state representation. In personality disintegration, the individual's self-concept and social behavior is fragmented to the degree that the person no longer presents a unified and predictable set of attitudes, beliefs, behavioral responses, or traits, with the most extreme cases being found in schizophrenics. Detractors of self-concept theory (e.g., the behaviorists, radical empiricists, and logical positivists) suggest that the notion of "self" (and even "personality") is a pseudo-concept that is superfluous and meaningless in the scientific analysis of human behavior. The American psychologist B. F. Skinner (19041990) notes that "origination" is at the heart of the issue of a "self" or a "sense of self": one begins as an organism and becomes a "person" or a "self" only as he or she acquires a repertoire of behavior, and all "selves" are merely the products of genetic and environmental histories. Skinner asserts that there is no place in the scientific enterprise for the hypothetical notion of "self" as a true originator or initiator of action. See also FESTINGER'S COGNITIVE DISSONANCE





Do Not Panic

Do Not Panic

This guide Don't Panic has tips and additional information on what you should do when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. With so much going on in the world today with taking care of your family, working full time, dealing with office politics and other things, you could experience a serious meltdown. All of these things could at one point cause you to stress out and snap.

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