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Self schemas


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Self schemas

  1. 1. Self-Schema: A self-schema is a belief or idea about oneself that leads to a bias that is self-perpetuating. It could consist of a particular role in society or a generalization based on socialsterotypes. If a mother tells her daughter she looks like a tom boy, her daughter may react by choosingactivities that she imagines a tom boy would do. Conversely, if the mother tells her she looks like aprincess, her daughter might choose activities thought to be more feminine. The self-schema becomesself-perpetuating when the individual chooses activities based on expectations instead of desires.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The term schematic describes having a particular schema for a particular dimension. For instance, aperson in a rock band at night would have a "rocker" schema. However, during the day, if he works asa salesperson, he would have a "salesperson" schema during that period of time. Schemas varyaccording to cultural background and other environmental factors.Once people have developed a schema about themselves, there is a strong tendency for that schema tobe maintained by a bias in what they attend to, in what they remember, and in what they are prepared toaccept as true about themselves. In other words, the self-schema becomes self-perpetuating. The self-schema is then stored in long-term memory, and both facilitates and biases the processing of personallyrelevant information.The term aschematic means not having a schema for a particular dimension. This usually occurs whenpeople are not involved with or concerned about a certain attribute. For example, if a person plans onbeing a musician, a self-schema in aeronautics will not attribute to him; he is aschematic onaeronautics.Self-schemas vary from person to person because each individual has very different social and culturallife experiences. A few examples of self-schemasare: exciting or dull; quiet orloud; healthy or sickly; athletic or nonathletic; lazy or active;and geek or jock. If a person has a schema for "geek or jock," for example, he might think of himself asa bit of a computer geek and would possess a lot of information about that trait. Because of this, hewould probably interpret many situations based on relevance to his being a computer geek.Another person with the "healthy or sickly" schema might consider herself a very health consciousperson. His concern with being healthy would then affect everyday decisions such as what groceries hebuys, what restaurants he frequents, or how often he exercises. Women who are schematic onappearance exhibited lower body image, lower self-esteem, and morenegative mood than did those whoare aschematic on appearance.Self-SchemaFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThis articles tone or style may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. Specific concerns may be found onthe talk page. See Wikipedias guide to writing better articles for suggestions.(September 2009)
  2. 2. The term self-schema refers to the beliefs and ideas people have about themselves. These beliefs areused to guide and organize information processing, especially when the information is significant to theself. Self-schemas are important to a persons overall self-concept.Once we have developed a schema about ourselves there is a strong tendency for that schema to bemaintained by a bias in what we attend to, a bias in what we remember, and a bias in what we areprepared to accept as true about ourselves. In other words our self-schema becomes self-perpetuating.The self-schema is then stored in long-term memory and both facilitates and biases the processing ofpersonally relevant information.Self-schemas vary from person to person because each individual has very different social and culturallife experiences. A few examples of self-schemas are; exciting/ dull, quiet/ loud, healthy/ sickly, athletic/nonathletic, lazy/ active, and geek/ jock. If a person has a schema for geek/ jock, for example, he mightthink of himself as a bit of a computer geek and so he would possess a lot of information about that trait.Because of this he would probably interpret a lot of situations based on their relevance to being a geek.For another example consider the healthy/ sickly schema. A person with this schema might considerherself a very health conscious person. Her concern with being healthy would then affect every daydecisions like what to buy at the grocery store, what restaurant to eat out at, or how much exercise sheshould get daily. Women who are schematic on appearance exhibited lower body image, lower self-esteem, and more negative mood than did those who are aschematic on appearance.Multiple Self-SchemaWhile every schema varies from cultural backgrounds, etc., there are different ways of defining theschemas themselves. First, there is Schematic, which means having a particular schema for aparticular dimension. For instance, you could play in a rock band at night, and there you would haveyour "rocker" schema. However, during the day, you work as a tire salesman, so you have your "tiresalesman" schema on during that period of time.Another good example of this are super heroes, such as the ones in comic books. People likeSuperman, Spider-Man, The Hulk, etc., all have their schema for when they are just doing their normaljob during the day. However, when duty calls, they adorn their superhero schema.Second, there is Aschematic, which is not having a schema for a particular dimension. This usuallyoccurs when we are not involved with or concerned about a certain attribute. For instance, some of uswill never be tire salesmen, so some of us will never have to worry about it. This also includesschoolwork to a particular level. If you plan on being a musician, then having a schema in aeronauticswill not attribute to you.
  3. 3. Since it has been defined that most people have multiple schemas does this mean that we all havemultiple personalities as well? The answer is no. At least not in the pathological sense. Indeed, for themost part, multiple self-schemas are extremely useful to us in our daily lives. Without our consciousawareness, they help us make rapid decisions and to behave efficiently and appropriately in differentsituations and with different people. They guide what we attend to, and how we interpret and useincoming information and they activate specific cognitive, verbal, and behavioral action sequences—which in cognitive psychology are called scripts and action plans—that help us meet our goals moreefficiently.IndividualDifferences Last updated: Roles of Schemas in Personality 21 Oct 2003PersonalitySchemasWith regard to personality, the cognitive perspective focuses on organised mental structuresof experience, including memory, schemas, scripts, and attributions.We are surrounded by a mass information, therefore in order to survive and be efficient inprogressing towards our goals, we must have ways of sorting through and selectivelyattending to the mass of information. By using stored "information guides", we can simplifyand structure the world of information. These "guides" are sometimes called heuristics,models, algorithims, schemas and scripts. Whilst technically these may be different terms, forour purposes they are important because they are all "tools" for filtering and interpretationinformation. By the way, information is meant here in a broad sense - information that arrivesexternally through each of the senses on an almost constant basis, but also information thatmay arise from within, from the unconscious, or memory, or newly created information.You may not be aware of it, but you are surrounded by more information than you can use �you can�t deal with it all, so you impose organisation and use just a few bits and you makeinferences about the rest. In this way, cognitive organisation is good because it saves mentalresources and allows us to understand events using selected pieces of information.But cognitive organisation can also be bad in unusual situations and when we get stuck innegative perceptions (e.g., depressive self-schemas) or when there are novel events.Because of all this information coming in and the need to simplify things we tend to treat apiece of information as a member of a category and we can then respond immediately in a
  4. 4. way established for other members of this category. We do not treat each tree (whether anindividual ash or elm, or prunus) as a completely unique category, but rather identify it as amember of the category �TREE� and we can then respond accordingly.Similarly, when we meet people and we tend to treat them as members of a category ratherthan as a totally unique creature that we�ve never come across before. The category maybe race, gender, religion, nationality, dress style, whatever. In cognitive psychology thesecategories are called schemas. A schema is a knowledge structure or a cognitive structurethat organises information and thereby influences how we perceive and respond to furtherinformation about objects, people and events. In other words, we impose order onexperiences derived from recurrences of similar qualities across repeated events.A helpful formulaic representation isPerception = memory (i.e., stored guides) + incoming informationIf I say �VEHICLE� do you know what I�m referring to? You probably have a generalisedidea of a motorised contraption that goes on the road and has 4 wheels. But you�d needmore information to know exactly what I�m referring to. So you know for example that your�vehicle� schema is say different from your �plant� schema or your �person� schemaor your �clothing� schema but you don�t necessarily know what subcategory of theschema I�m referring to.It is generally agreed that for physical objects we arrange the schemas hierarchically. Nowyou have a schema for vehicle for example, and you probably also have a schema for�car� and one for �sports car� and so these can exist at different levels.Younger children for example tend to use middle level schemas more frequently. Higher levelcategories like �vehicle� are distinctive but more abstract and not as specific as the nextcategory level. Low level categories are specific but may not always be cognitivelyeconomical to use.EXEMPLARS: Schemas are usually assumed to include information about specific cases orexemplars as well as information about the more generic sense of what the category is. Thatis for any given category, say, vehicle, you can bring to mind specific examples of vehiclesand you can bring to mind a general sense of the category on the whole e.g. a �typical�vehicle (something that is a motorised contraption on the road and has 4 wheels).PROTOTYPES: Some researchers believe that some members of a category are the �bestmembers� that is they best exemplify the category. For example a Porsche might best
  5. 5. exemplify the category of sports car for you and a Maserati might best exemplify the categoryfor me. This is called a prototype. Some theories suggest that it is the best actual memberyou have found so far and others that it�s an idealised member, an average of the membersyou�ve found so far.ATTRIBUTES: On the other hand some researchers say that no prototypes are stored at all.Instead the category or schema is simply a collection of attributes or elements that helpdefine what the category is. In the case of a sports car those attributes may be sleek, low,racy looking, expensive looking etc.It has also been suggested that many categories don�t have explicit definitions. The featuresof a category or schema all contribute to its nature but aren�t necessary for categorymembership. For example your schema for birds probably includes the idea that birds fly. Butthere are birds that DON�T fly. So flying can�t actually be a defining feature if birds. Buthearing that a creature flies does make it more likely that it will fit the bird schema than saythe cow schema. So flying counts for something!FUZZY SET: As with our bird example, some schemas are defined in a fuzzy way by a set ofcriteria that are IMPORTANT but not necessary. e.g. flyingDEFAULT INFORMATION: Many events don�t contain complete information about what�sgoing on. If there�s enough information available to bring up a schema then you getadditional information from memory. e.g. if I told you I did the washing this morning, youwould assume I was talking about clothes, that I used washing powder, that I used a washingmachine, etc. even though none of these thins was mentioned. Research shows that peoplemay even REMEMBER things that they haven�t explicitly been told if it fits their schema ofthe event. (you may think I mentioned the washing powder even though I didn�t). You wouldprobably not assume that I was talking about washing the dog by hand using biocarbonate ofsoda. Information you assume to be true (unless you�ve been told otherwise) is calleddefault information.STEREOTYPES: When one aspect of a stereotype is brought to mind you tend to assumeother aspects as well. If you hear that a person is a Liberal Voter you may also assume thatthey love John Howard, are conservative in thinking and dress style, are generallywarmongering and anti refugees (if that�s what your �Liberal Voter� schema is). Peopleautomatically assume schema-consistent information even when it it�s not available. Sodefault information is brought from memory to fill in the gaps.Role of Schemas
  6. 6. Any event is a collection of elements: people, movements, objects etc. These variouselements might just as well be random unless you have some sense of what the event isABOUT. In the same way the attributes of an object are just a collection of bits unless youhave an overriding sense of what he object IS. The schema is the glue that holds all the bitsof information together.Schemas: are used to recognize new experiences (new events are identified by comparingthem to existing schemas). They affect perception, affect encoding, affect memory recall andbecome self-perpetuating. You are more likely to remember information that CONFIRMS yourexpectations than doesn�t.Self-schemasHazel Rose Markus in 1977 suggested that the self is a concept or a category like any otherconcept or category and that people form cognitive structures about the self just as they doabout other phenomena. These cognitive structures are called SELF-schemas.Self-schemas are cognitive generalisations about oneself, derived from past experience. Themeaning is similar to the meaning of the term self-concept. Our self-schemas organise andguide the processing of self-related information. Self-schemas, like other schemas influencewhether information is attended to and how easily it is recalled. Thus it is easier to encodethings that fit into it and to remember things that fit into it.Once we have developed a schema about ourselves there is a strong tendency for thatschema to be maintained by a bias in what we attend to, a bias in what we remember, and abias in what we are prepared to accept as true about ourselves. In other words our self-schema becomes self-perpetuating.Self-schemas tend to be larger and more complex than other schemas and there areindividual differences in the complexity of self-schemas.�Some people have many different self-aspects, which they keep distinct from each other.Each role these people play in life, each goal they have, each activity they engage in, has itsown separate existence in their self-image. These people are high in self-complexity. Otherpeople�s self-aspects are less distinct from each other. These people are lower in self-complexity.For people who are low in self-complexity, feelings relating to a bad event in one aspect of lifetend to spill over into other aspects of the sense of self (Linville, 1987). This spill overdoesn�t happen as much for people high in self-complexity because the separations andboundaries they�ve developed between self-aspects prevents it.The way people acquire (or fail to acquire) complexity in the self-schema may be partly a
  7. 7. matter of how much you think about yourself. Nasby (1985) found that people who reportspending a lot of time thinking about themselves have self-schemas of greater complexity anddetail than people who think about themselves less. Apparently the very process of thinkingabout yourself causes a continued growth and articulation of the self-schema.� Carver &Scheier (2000, p. 445)�Another way of thinking about self-complexity is that it involves a family of self-schemas,rather than a single one. In a way, you�re a different person when you�re in differentcontexts because you make different assumptions about yourself, and you attend to differentaspects of what� going on. When you� with one set of friends at a party to another set in s rea study group to being at home with your parents, it� as though you� putting aside one s reschema about yourself and taking up a new one.Not only may people have distinct self-schemas in different contexts, but self-schemas mayvary in another way. Markus and her colleagues (e.g., Markus & Nurius, 1986), suggest thatpeople develop images of selves they� like to become, selves they� afraid of becoming d reand selves they expect to become. Other selves that have been suggested include thedisliked self (Oglivie, 1987) and selves you think you ought to be (Higgins, 1987, 1990).These various possible selves can be used as motivators, because they provide goals toapproach or to avoid.�Carver & Scheier (2000, p. 446).Examples of self-schemasBecause the self=schema contains our ideas about what we are like and what we are capableof doing it affects what we do. If we think we� reliable we� try to always live up to that image. re ll If we think we are sociable we are more likely to seek the company of others. If we think we� attractive we� be more confident in our romantic dealings with the re ll opposite sex. If we think we� re shy we are more likely to avoid social situations. We have an elaborate schema based on the way we� behaved awkwardly in social ve situations in the past and we� therefore interpret new situations in the light of this ll knowledge. We become an expert in shyness. We then become more ready to see our social experiences in the light of our social deficiencies. This becomes a lens through which we view the world.