My portfolio will feature my thoughts and comments on readings and lecture material that I found most interesting and can relate to, therefore allowing me to bring deeper thought and insight to my entries. My goal here is not simply to repeat readings and lecture material.
THE SOCIAL SELF
It is interesting to consider the different theories of the self as well as the theories of how we are socially constructed. I haven’t come across a theory, either of how the self is constructed, or the purpose that the self serves, that I don’t agree with. However questions such as the advantages and disadvantages of the self, and whether the sense of self can be altered I find a worthwhile subject area to look into.
As soon as an infant begins to grasp the concept of language, the infant will begin to understand words such as ‘yours’ and ‘mine’, e.g. ‘is your hand hurt?’. Language, I believe, must play a major role in the development of the sense of self, it enables us to think in terms of, and make clear distinctions between one other.
In considering the purpose of the self, I can’t help but think what a strange line of thinking this is, not unlike considering what is the purpose of your arms? One would consider the sense of self to be a regular component of your make up. The concept of the self immediately separates each individual from the other, and this allows for the establishment of differences e.g. gender, age, ethnicity etc. There is also the theory that society creates roles and individuals seek them out and adopt them, and therefore without society the self would not exist in full, as role playing, e.g. ‘I am a police officer’, is a component of the self. Therefore, from this line of thinking, the sense of self enables the construction of society, and society aids in the construction of the self.
If a large component of the self is a social construct, I question the stability of this component of the self. Roger’s self congruence highlights one issue with the social construct of the self. When social experiences don’t match your idea of your self, incongruity or a mismatch takes place. I believe this happens quite often, I can remember a number of times when I have felt down on myself for behaving in a manner that contradicted or did not live up to my perception of myself, it leaves you with a sense of real frustration, and even fabrication, as if this idea of yourself all this time has been false. In the same light, if self esteem is also built on social constructs, how fragile and subject to change this sense of fulfillment must also be. It brings to mind the old saying, ‘beauty is only skin deep’.
Within certain Eastern philosophical views of the self there is considerably different contrasts to those within Western philosophical views. Rogers, for example, considers self fulfillment to be a life progression, to work on the sense of self; self actualisation is something to be achieved during middle age after years of progression. Buddhist philosophy considers the self as something to be abandoned, the self is an illusion, a false construct that breeds attachment and cannot be trusted (Suzuki, 1969). Anatta is an important component of the Buddhist teachings and is translated as not-self (wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta). Whilst the Western psychologists are working to balance and adjust the self, the Buddhists are discarding it through introspection, meditation, and guidance from instructors. From this perspective, the idea of being motivated to meet social expectations is in essence, chasing an illusion. One example of the failure of meeting social expectations to bring satisfaction in life may be the level of drug and alcohol abuse amongst Hollywood stars. A-list movie stars can be seen as possessing, perhaps in one respect, the highest level of social approval available, yet many of them also appear to carry a great deal of troubles.
Suzuki, D. T. (1969). The Zen Doctrine of No Mind. Weiser Books, Maine, U.S.
The Self in Buddhism Link 1.
The duplex mind theory is a useful method for understanding how we think and draw associations. It makes a lot of sense that our thinking and general psychological make up is, to a large degree, formed by our social and cultural environment. My favored description of the duplex mind is William James’ description of associative and true reasoning. James describes true reasoning as thought utilised to overcome obstacles, while associative thinking is formed through passed experiences and is reproductive. So many of our schemas and scripts are formed culturally, which is why travelling and settling into an overseas culture can be so difficult and challenging.
People who suffer negative life experiences may develop bad associations to actions or objects, for example, a car accident may prevent someone from travelling in a car, demonstrating a direct association being formed by a single experience. Although the individual may be rationally aware that there is little chance of a car accident travelling to the shops, they may be unable to consciously overcome the fear, such as the experience of a family member of mine. Whilst some may consider the fear as irrational, I can certainly see the rational aspect to negative association. An evolution perspective of classical conditioning may indicate that it is a tool for the preservation of life, the person has been shown first hand that the practice of diving can cause death and serious injury, and subsequently developed a negative association to prevent the event occurring again.
To be honest I am a little confused with the definitions of aggression, although comparing the definition against the definition of violence may have cleared things up. I have always had in my mind that aggression was an emotive state that promoted the possibility of an animal or person moving to perform violence, aggression, I didn’t believe, always results in harm.
Excitation transfer I found very interesting, as it is another example of an everyday act that can be seen occurring within society. I have experienced on numerous occasions, and witnessed others, being angry or frustrated about one particular event or situation, and carrying across that negative emotion to then overreact to another. The same, however, can be said for positive emotions, being in a positive mood can also be carried across to enjoy events or situations more so than you may otherwise.
The culture of honor I believe is a very strong perpetrator for causing aggression and violence. Southern U.S., as mentioned in the lecture, and islander cultures, such as the Maori culture that descends from warrior tribes are examples. A dishonorable self image is not desirable, particularly not for males, and no one wants to be labeled a coward, this must surely perpetrate aggression amongst individuals within such environments. Media, such as Hollywood movies where heroes are portrayed as aggressive action men who defeat all their adversaries may also contribute to acts of aggression. I remember my father, a former police officer, commenting how it always appeared that more fights would break out in bars on nights that featured an anticipated boxing match.
If people are capable of increasing aggressive behaviors as a result of ideas and influence, the same should be true for decreasing the behavior to the same degree that is was increased. This is where I believe the difference between the two definitions may become clear. It is one thing to get aggressive and kick a door, and in a catharsis like manner release emotion, however to take the step of physically harming someone I believe involves a clear decision. Perhaps this may also depend on your level of emotional control or emotional intelligence.
I don’t believe racism or discrimination in general will ever be abolished. In my opinion, once you identify a difference between two things, it is impossible to then un-identify the difference. The identifying of the differences being the original cause of the issue.
To overcome racism and prejudice I agree is a process of rationalisation. However I also believe that the effort must come from both sides, the oppressive side perpetrating the discrimination, and the race being discriminated. The effect of feeling an outsider and witnessing and experiencing discrimination occur throughout your lifetime must have an impact on how an individual behaves and perceives the world. I have witnessed one of my friends, who is of African descent, avoid particular social hangouts, and pick up on other peoples behaviors that I have missed. This is due to his sensitive awareness to the issue of ethnicity, despite his being born in Australia, perhaps a classical case of the self fulfilling prophecy. For prejudice and discrimination to be truly eradicated it must be removed from both the mind of the perpetrators and the suppressed.
Perhaps the reason we have a tendency to like people who like us is due to same reason we are attracted to people who are similar to us, for someone to like us one would assume that they have to identify with our likes and dislikes, at least to a certain degree.
The investment model of commitment is a theory that I have considered before without forming it into a model. Whilst I agree with the model, I feel that it is missing a component; self confidence, or the confidence that you are capable of gaining an alternative. The model seems to assume that every individual shares a high level of self confidence, when this is not the case at all. I believe that the higher a persons self confidence, the greater the person will believe his or her chances are of gaining an alternative partner. Whilst the opposite will be true for low self esteem.
Jealousy is a terrible emotion. I find it interesting though that males are affected more by the sexual aspects than emotional, and that the reverse is true for women. There must be an evolutionary explanation for this; that the passing on of genes is perhaps more important for men, while the nurturing or emotional aspect of rearing children is important for women. This is then reflected in the emotion of jealousy, where we feel a valued relationship is threatened by a rival which then directly impacts on our self image. I have heard of many cases of women forgiving men for cheating, however none for the reverse situation.
I have always felt that I work best under supervisors that have a no-fuss attitude similar to my own. I have been fortunate enough to have worked under quite a few different personalities to be able to identify whether or not a leader or supervisor possess’ the qualities that I will perform well under, within a short period of time. I also feel that I have witnessed enough to know what attributes and traits make a good leader. A combination of both task and relationship driven leadership is important.
Equally important within the subject of leadership and whether or not an individual will make a good leader is what motivates the individual to acquire a leadership position. From my experience the worst leaders were the ones who lacked interpersonal skills, and sought leadership roles in order to force interaction with others. Gaining a supervisory or leadership position can also serve as a method to gain more interaction with staff, and for people who don’t possess a natural ability to interact with others, gaining superiority can serve as a means of achieving this. This I feel is similar to the ‘they don’t have to like me, but they will respect me’, saying.
The question of whether or not to assist a stranger in distress reminds me of the time I was cycling (I am a former competitive cyclist) and as I turned onto the Barton Hwy I came across an accident that must have only very recently occurred as the victim was still in the car with her head against the steering wheel. Being quite young at the time, and hearing the sirens approaching in the background I continued riding. Had I not have heard the sirens I am not sure that I would have intervened, I do not think so, as I would not at the time have known what to do. I brought the topic up with friends and relatives; my friends seem to think they would not have intervened either, whilst my relatives had the attitude that if you intervene in the wrong way and cause further complications, you could face legal action. Prior to hearing this point of view, and despite my lack of any knowledge where I could have been of assistance, I did feel a bit guilty for not doing something. However I have never forgotten the comment on facing legal action if you intervene in the wrong manner. Surely this culture of suing people has made a negative impact and given rise to further lack of people willing to take action and assist strangers.
We perceive events as being a greater risk that we do not have control over, such as flying. This may be due to our having to give complete faith to the person who has control over us, however I do find it curious why we don’t fear or place a greater concern over events that are statistically proven to be dangerous. This does seem to be a more rational basis for fearing an event than merely not having control. If statistics show that thousands of people die per year in car accidents or as a result of lung cancer from smoking, why don’t we develop a fear towards cars and cigarettes? Perhaps there is an evolutionary explanation here also, as having a fear of spiders (that result in an extremely low, if any, death rate) greater than flying or traveling in a car is clearly an irrational fear.
Self protection of self esteem – avoiding life situations that could hurt self esteem'. A question I have often asked myself is what is different about people who regularly take risks compared to those who do not? Some people seem capable or taking risk after risk with no fear of rejection. Are these people so assured of themselves, that regardless of what their social environment throws at them, their self assurance cannot be diminished? Does this then indicate that they have a weakened ability to self regulate? I would think that surely a series of rejections would suggest something to these people, and slow them down to reassess. I believe there needs to be a balance, rejection is not pleasant, however I do to a degree, admire people who are capable of treating rejection like water off a ducks back.
The magnitude gap – the victim always loses more than perpetrator gains. The magnitude gap highlights the lack of empathy or the inability to view things from another persons perspective within criminals that allows them to perform the crimes they do.