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Self-Awareness and Constructive Functioning: Revisiting ?the Human Dilemma?



Self-awareness—the capacity to focus attention on oneself, and thus to self-evalu- ate—has a bad reputation in social-clinical psychology because of its ties to nega- tive affect, depression, suicide, and dysfunction. Using Rollo May's (1967) analysis of "the human dilemma," we outline self-awareness's beneficial contributions to psychological functioning. Without self-awareness, people could not take the per- spectives of others, exercise self-control, produce creative accomplishments, or experience pride and high self-esteem. Research suggests that the positive and neg- ative facets of self-awareness are reconciled when people have reasonable self-standards and when they are optimistic about meeting their standards.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Self-awareness—the capacity to focus attention on oneself, and thus to self-evalu-
ate—has a bad reputation in social-clinical psychology because of its ties to nega-
tive affect, depression, suicide, and dysfunction. Using Rollo May’s (1967) analysis
of “the human dilemma,” we outline self-awareness’s beneficial contributions to
psychological functioning. Without self-awareness, people could not take the per-
spectives of others, exercise self-control, produce creative accomplishments, or
experience pride and high self-esteem. Research suggests that the positive and neg-
ative facets of self-awareness are reconciled when people have reasonable
self-standards and when they are optimistic about meeting their standards.
Self-awareness—the ability to focus attention on self as an object
(Carver, 2003; Duval & Silvia, 2001)—has had a major influence on the
intersection of social and clinical psychology. Since Duval and
Wicklund (1972) showed that self-focused attention promotes self-eval-
uation, a massive amount of research has connected self-awareness to
aversive, dysfunctional, and problematic outcomes (Ingram, 1990;
Wells & Matthews, 1994). It’s no surprise, then, that a glance at how
self-awareness is treated in the social-clinical literature reveals
self-awareness theories of depression (Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1987),
alcoholism (Hull, 1981), and socially irresponsible behavior
(Prentice-Dunn & Rogers, 1989); models of how self-awareness in-
creases negative affect and reduces well-being (Fejfar & Hoyle, 2000;
Mor & Winquist, 2002); and discussions of how self-awareness pro-
motes suicide, masochism, and self-destructive behavior (Baumeister,
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 4, 2004, pp. 475-489
Address correspondence to Paul J. Silvia, Department of Psychology, PO Box 26170,
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170; E-mail:
The outlook for self-awareness is bleak, to be sure, but not unrealistic.
All of the theories just listed are well reasoned and supported by re-
search. If there were ever a variable to be avoided in everyday life,
self-awareness would seem to be it. But before we banish self-aware-
ness, we might do well to remember Rollo May’s (1967) seminal analysis
of self-awareness and human functioning. Our goal in this article is to re-
habilitate self-awareness’s reputation in social-clinical psychology, us-
ing May’s ideas as a guide. Certainly self-awareness has a guilty con-
science—its role in dysfunction is clear. But its redeeming qualities, its
contributions to constructive human functioning, are just as significant.
In this article, we hope to illuminate some of self-awareness’s contri-
butions to the good life and constructive functioning, using examples
from the research literature. Then we’ll consider some ways in which the
positive and negative aspects of self-awareness can be reconciled, thus
synthesizing what May (1967) called “the human dilemma.”
Rollo May (1967) anticipated a lot of research with his book Psychology
and the Human Dilemma. May argued that a person’s biggest problem is
reconciling what he labeled “the human dilemma.” This dilemma is our
capacity for self-awareness:
The human dilemma is that which arises out of a man’s capacity to experience
himself as both subject and object at the same time. Both are necessary—for
the science of psychology, for therapy, and for gratifying living. (May,
1967, p. 8).
When we focus attention on ourselves, we experience our selves as ob-
jects. We can thus appraise our qualities like we appraise other people
and inanimate objects. This form of experience has broad and negative
consequences. As May notes, “If ...Isetouttodeal with myself as ‘pure
object,’ fully determined and manipulatable, I become driven, dried up,
affectless, and unrelated to my experiences” (p. 9). Seeing the self as an
object reminds us that we have boundaries and flaws, that we can be
controlled and manipulated just like other objects, that outside forces
impinge on what we do and thus constrain our sense of self-determina-
tion. In contrast, experiencing self subjectively is pleasant, a flow state of
rich affective experience, boundlessness, and feelings of self-determina-
tion; people lose a sense of self as an object that can be controlled and
So what’s the dilemma? We already know that self-awareness has
maladaptive effects. The quandary, according to May (1967), is that
dealing with ourselves as “pure subject” is also maladaptive. Life has
real constraints and real boundaries:
If I try to act as “pure subject,” free and untrammeled by the finite re-
quirements of traffic lights and the engineering principles of how fast
my car can negotiate the curve, I of course come to grief—and generally
not so nobly or theatrically as Icarus. (p. 9)
The dilemma, then, is that both modes of experience are detrimental and
essential. Human life is thus lived within a dialectic, a tension between
the benefits and costs of different experiences of self. Already we see a
contrast to modern social-clinical theorizing on self-awareness. May
agrees that self-awareness can lead to needless self-criticism, but asserts
that self-awareness ultimately is essential for constructive living. Avoid-
ing self-awareness, according to May, should not be the goal. Instead,
people need to achieve a synthesis of the objective and the subjective
states—they need to maximize their gain and minimize their suffering
from self-awareness. Unfortunately, May had few specific suggestions
on how to accomplish this.
In the following sections, we’ll see what social-clinical research has
to say about self-awareness. In the spirit of May’s analysis, we’ll con-
sider both positive and negative consequences of self-awareness. After
exploring both sides of the dialectic, we’ll examine some ways to maxi-
mize the benefits of self-awareness and thus resolve the human di-
Self-awareness’s maladaptive aspects have been reviewed in detail else-
where (Pyszczynski, Hamilton, Greenberg, & Becker, 1991), so we’ll
note only the highlights here. Smith and Greenberg (1981) were the first
to observe links between self-focused attention and depressive symp-
toms. A lot of work since then has shown that self-awareness can exacer-
bate the experience of negative events and eventually lead to a
“depressive self-focusing style” (Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1987). In-
deed, reducing self-awareness via distracting activities improves
well-being (Brockner & Hulton, 1978; Nix, Watson, Pyszczynski, &
Greenberg, 1995). Theories of depression emphasizing rumination also
accord a large role to self-focused attention (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991).
Recent studies on emotional disorders implicate self-awareness as a
culprit. A wide variety of affective disorders develop in part because
people focus on their internal states (Wells & Matthews, 1994) and be-
cause self-awareness might bias the interoception process (Silvia &
Gendolla, 2001). Self-observation, in conjunction with other processes,
lays the groundwork for obsessive preoccupations with internal experi-
ence. Self-awareness also correlates with neuroticism, which is essen-
tially the trait of chronic unhappiness (Trapnell & Campbell, 1999). Evi-
dence like this led Ingram (1990) to argue that self-awareness plays a
broad role in psychopathology. His review shows that a wide variety of
disorders are instigated and maintained by chronic self-awareness.
In Baumeister’s (1991) escape theory of suicide, self-awareness pro-
motes attempts at self-destruction. When people’s experiences fall short
of their expectations, they often blame themselves. This self-critical ten-
dency is exaggerated when people are highly self-aware (Duval &
Wicklund, 1973). People can become locked in a cycle of self-criticism
and rumination, leading to ever more desperate attempts at mood re-
pair. This basic cycle underlies other self-destructive behaviors, such as
binge eating, masochism, alcoholism, and drug use, as people search for
ways to reduce self-awareness and its resulting self-criticism
(Baumeister, 1991; Hull, 1981).
Self-awareness also decreases intrinsic motivation and interest (Plant
& Ryan, 1985). Research on flow experiences finds that a primary com-
ponent of optimal experience is reduced self-awareness
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Csikszentmihalyi & Figurski, 1982). When
self-awareness is increased, the person feels less integrated with the ac-
tivity, and the intensity of positive affect declines (Silvia, 2002a, 2002b).
Self-awareness also plays a role in social anxiety and shyness (Spurr &
Stopa, 2002; Woody, 1996) and in making people feel “alienated from
interaction” (Goffman, 1967).
Given these dysfunctional processes, how does self-awareness enhance
constructive functioning? Here we consider the brighter side of
self-awareness: how it enables perspective-taking, self-control, creative
accomplishments, and high self-esteem.
Without self-awareness, people could not recognize that their perspec-
tives might differ from another’s perspective (Shibutani, 1961). A person
cannot comprehend that self and others differ—that others might have
different needs, thoughts, and properties—without first comprehend-
ing that the self exists as a bounded, situated entity. Perspective-taking
is thus essential for negotiating the thicket of social interaction
(Goffman, 1967; Shibutani, 1961) and for conveying information about
the self to other people (Schlenker, 2003). Increased perspective-taking
promotes empathic responses to the plights of others (Batson, 1991);
failed perspective-taking promotes viewing others in terms of their use-
fulness for the egocentric person’s goals (Wicklund, 1999).
Developmental research shows that the appearance of perspec-
tive-taking depends on the emergence of self-awareness. As children be-
gin showing signs of self-awareness—such as mirror self-recognition
and linguistic self-reference (Kagan, 1981)—they behave less
egocentrically. Indeed, some measures of self-awareness are based on
perspective-taking. For example, one task measures whether the child
can deceive another person; another test measures whether the child as-
sumes that others share the child’s hidden knowledge (Lewis, 1990).
And after the development of self-awareness, children are no longer in-
different to the distress of their peers. They begin responding to others’
distress with confusion and eventually with acts of empathy and
consolation (Denham, 1998).
Experiments directly show how situational changes in self-awareness
affect perspective-taking (Stephenson & Wicklund, 1983). In one study,
people were asked to draw an Eon their foreheads (Hass, 1984). When
people were made more self-aware, they drew the Efrom the perspec-
tive of an observer rather than from the self’s perspective. In another
study, participants sat facing another person and tried to guide the per-
son through a maze (Stephenson & Wicklund, 1984). High self-aware-
ness reduced perspective-taking errors, such as saying “right” to refer to
the other person’s left. In sum, self-awareness enables perspective-tak-
ing when viewed developmentally (Kagan, 1981) and situationally
(Hass, 1984).
The price of civilization might not be repression, as Freud contended,
but it is certainly circumscription. Living among social groups brings
many benefits, and people are expected to repay these benefits through
their conduct. Sociologists remind us that the goals of society are fur-
thered when people internalize the society’s standards and feel pride
and shame when they meet and fall short of them (Shibutani, 1961).
Self-awareness enables people to internalize standards of conduct, ap-
praise whether or not they’re meeting them, and reflect upon their ac-
tions in light of broader principles. Self-awareness is thus a cornerstone
of self-control.
Research on deindividuation illustrates how self-awareness can re-
strain antisocial impulses (Postmes & Spears, 1998). Increasing self-fo-
cused attention makes people less likely to cheat on tests, steal candy,
and lie about standardized test scores (see Diener, 1979; Prentice-Dunn
& Rogers, 1989; Pryor, Gibbons, Wicklund, Fazio, & Hood, 1977, Study
2), presumably because self-aware people try to align their activity with
their internalized standards for honesty (see Carver, 2003). Increasing
self-awareness also reduces the diffusion of responsibility; self-aware
people are more likely to step forward and take responsibility for help-
ing someone in need (Wegner & Schaefer, 1978).
Self-awareness enables creative achievements, but how it does so is not ob-
vious. In fact, a lot of laboratory research finds that self-evaluating reduces
creativity. Amabile’s (1996) research, for example, shows how circum-
stances that promote self-evaluation—criticism, deadlines, monitoring,
and judgments—will reduce creativity. Experiments that directly manipu-
late self-evaluation find negative effects on creativity. In a study by
Szymanski and Harkins (1992), for instance, people generated creative uses
for a knife. High self-evaluation reduced the creativity of the responses.
But perhaps a distinction should be made between college students
making collages in the lab and the profound creative achievements that
initiate new disciplines and change cultures. Such accomplishments do
not come about by intrinsic motivation alone—being interested in the
topic, being in states of flow, and experiencing positive emotions are not
enough (Feist, 1998; Rathunde, 1999; Russ, 1993). Instead, some theories
of creativity argue that true creative accomplishment requires self-criti-
cism. Martindale (1999) proposes that creativity has two facets: a process
of divergent thinking, and a process of evaluating the self’s output.
Many ideas—such as ideas for novels, poems, paintings, or experi-
ments—are not worth implementing. Self-criticism enables creative
products by identifying the good ideas and weeding out the bad ideas.
Likewise, not all finished products are worth revealing to others. After
creating something, people need to judge it (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). Is
the self’s creative product new or derivative, complete or unfinished,
meritorious or trivial? Congruent with this approach, case studies of cre-
ative artists show that creative products nearly always represent the
culmination of long periods of revision and effort (Csikszentmihalyi,
1996; Graham & Harris, 1994).
Creativity might best show the synthesis of Rollo May’s objective and
subjective modes of experience (cf. Rathunde, 1999). In some circum-
stances, self-awareness is necessary to further the creative process. Con-
tinuously low self-awareness would prevent the self-criticism needed to
judge one’s creative actions in relation to one’s standards. Continuously
high self-awareness would stunt the creative process by inhibiting the
subjective state needed for creating new products (Runco, 1991). By al-
lowing people to critique their ideas, evaluate their works-in-progress,
and appraise their finished products, self-awareness enables people to
go beyond first drafts and half-formed ideas.
One side of the relationship between self-awareness and self-evaluation
receives the most attention. Research usually focuses on how falling
short of standards is a source of negative affect and how this might be a
starting point for later problems (Baumeister, 1991). Yet meeting stan-
dards is a source of positive affect—seeing the self as the cause of success
leads to positive feelings of pride and is thus a basis of self-esteem
(Duval & Silvia, 2001; Weiner, 1985). Early research found that manipu-
lating self-awareness per se does not automatically lead to negative af-
fect. When people are congruent with their standards, their mood
becomes more positive (Ickes, Wicklund, & Ferris, 1973) and they prefer
to stay in self-focusing situations (Greenberg & Musham, 1981;
Steenbarger & Aderman, 1979). Indeed, self-awareness boosts self-es-
teem following success because it increases the tendency to attribute
causality to self (Duval & Wicklund, 1973). For instance, Duval and
Silvia (2002, Study 3) gave people success feedback on a cognitive task.
When self-awareness was high, people experienced higher state self-es-
teem in response to their success. This increase was mediated by self-at-
tributions for the success event: Self-awareness increased internal
attributions for success, which in turn increased self-esteem.
Developmental research illustrates further how self-awareness is criti-
cal for feelings of pride. Heckhausen (1987) studied how the emotional
aspects of achievement develop in young children. He found that young
children displayed neither pride nor shame upon succeeding or failing
at a task. Instead, they simply expressed interest or boredom, either en-
joying the task for its own sake or finding it tedious. When self-aware-
ness developed and children became capable of self-evaluation, shame
and pride became apparent. Children then showed anticipated shame
and pride in response to tasks that evoked expectations of success and
failure, and their performance led to achievement-related emotions.
Success caused feelings of pride and the development of a self-theory of
Our review of social and clinical research shows that self-awareness can
have adaptive and maladaptive effects. Rollo May (1967) emphasized
that synthesizing the objective and subjective modes of self-experience
was a challenge; failing to reconcile this dialectic is a common source of
suffering. Yet May did not describe how people can organize these op-
posing features and thus maximize the benefits of self-awareness. Based
on research since May’s writings, several resolutions of the human
dilemma can be proposed.
Trapnell and Campbell (1999) offer a possible resolution rooted in the
study of individual differences in self-awareness. They noted a “para-
dox of self-consciousness,” namely, that dispositional self-awareness
correlates with positive and negative outcomes. To reconcile this para-
dox, they distinguished between two types of dispositional self-aware-
ness: rumination and reflection. In their view, “Rumination provides a
summary conception of self-attentiveness motivated by perceived
threats, losses, or injustices to the self. Reflection provides a summary
conception of self-attentiveness motivated by curiosity or epistemic in-
terest in the self” (p. 297). In short, opposing effects might reflect
different types of self-awareness.
Although some research supports the rumination-reflection distinc-
tion (e.g., Joireman, Parrott, & Hammersla, 2002), it is not the way to re-
solve the disparate effects of self-awareness. First, it applies only to indi-
vidual differences in self-awareness, and thus it cannot explain how
contextual factors moderate the effects of self-awareness. Second, the
proposal that good and bad outcomes result from good and bad types of
self-awareness strikes us as a weak explanation (see Wicklund, 1990).
Many variables have opposing effects when they interact with other
variables. Social influence attempts can create compliance or reactance
(Brehm, 1966); similarity can cause attraction or rejection (Taylor &
Mettee, 1971); novelty can create feelings of interest or anxiety (Silvia, in
press). Researchers have not concluded from these findings that there
must be two types of social influence, two types of similarity, or two
types of novelty. These findings represent interactions, not paradoxes.
The key is to identify and understand the interacting variables, not to
split one variable into two types.
Positing a curvilinear, inverted-U relationship between self-aware-
ness and adaptive functioning is another possible resolution. Perhaps
low and high levels of self-awareness lead to maladaptive functioning,
whereas intermediate levels promote constructive functioning. Al-
though intuitive, this approach is too vague to resolve our dilemma. Un-
less we know why there is an inverted-U function, a curvilinear model
does not explain the disparate effects of self-awareness. Furthermore, an
intermediate level of self-awareness is not always optimal. If a person
succeeds, high self-awareness would boost self-esteem more than mod-
erate self-awareness would (Duval & Silvia, 2002, Study 3). In this case,
high self-awareness would be better than moderate self-awareness.
Conversely, after failing an unsolvable test, low self-awareness would
be better—high self-awareness would lead to lower self-esteem and per-
sistence at an unsolvable task. In this case, low rather than moderate
self-awareness would be optimal.
An alternative approach is to specify the processes that moderate the
effects of self-awareness. Instead of proposing good and bad kinds of
self-awareness or arguing for optimal levels of self-awareness, we think
it is more productive to identify the variables that determine the positive
and negative effects of self-awareness. Several factors enable a produc-
tive synthesis of objective and subjective self-awareness.
First, people must have reasonable standards for themselves. Re-
search on self-awareness and psychopathology shows that high stan-
dards are a risk factor for dysfunction (e.g., Carver & Ganellen, 1983). In
Baumeister’s (1991) suicide model, for instance, the first step toward
self-destruction is feeling that life has fallen short of one’s expectations.
High expectations are less likely to be met. In Pyszczynski and
Greenberg’s (1987) model, high standards increase the chances of fail-
ing, which increases self-focusing upon one’s liabilities. Olympian aspi-
rations are rewarding when they are met, but it’s hard to meet high stan-
dards all the time. People can feel pride upon meeting their standards,
but perfectionistic standards more commonly lead to chronic self-criti-
cism (Ellis, 1962). Setting reasonable standards and changing unreason-
able standards to be more moderate (Dana, Lalwani, & Duval, 1997;
Duval & Lalwani, 1999) are effective ways of maximizing the benefits of
How can people change their standards? This topic has received little
attention in self-awareness research. Early theories of self-awareness
did not consider when people change their standards (Carver & Scheier,
1981; Duval & Wicklund, 1972)—changing self and avoiding self-aware-
ness received more attention. The updated theory of objective
self-awareness (Duval & Silvia, 2001) argues that causal attributions de-
termine whether people change standards, change self, or avoid
self-awareness. When people experience a self-standard discrepancy,
they make attributions for the cause of the discrepancy. If the discrep-
ancy is attributed to the standard, the standard is seen as the cause of the
problem and hence the thing that should be changed (Duval & Silvia,
2001, chap. 7). People will attribute failure to their standards when their
attention is focused on the standard instead of on self (Dana et al., 1997),
because focusing attention on an object makes the object more plausible
as a cause for the event (Taylor & Fiske, 1978). Attribution to the stan-
dard leads people to change the standard to be closer to the self’s level of
performance (Duval & Lalwani, 1999).
Second, people must be optimistic about their ability to meet their
standards. Feeling able to improve—both in the sense of having per-
sonal agency as well as specific pathways toward goals (Bandura, 1997;
Maddux & Gosselin, 2003; Snyder, 2000)—contributes to motivation
and mitigates against the experience of failure. People’s rate of progress
consistently appears as a moderator of the effects of self-awareness on
goal pursuit. Early research found that high self-awareness promoted
approach when people had positive expectancies and avoidance when
people had negative expectancies (Carver, Blaney, & Scheier, 1979).
Later research found that the rate of progress relative to the size of the
discrepancy moderated approach versus avoidance (Duval, Duval, &
Mulilis, 1992). Feeling optimistic, then, determines whether self-aware-
ness leads people to persist in striving for their standards or to give up
and avoid.
Optimism about future improvement also moderates how self-aware-
ness influences reactions to failure. After failing, people can respond
constructively (trying harder, practicing) or defensively (blaming others
for failing, avoiding practice opportunities). Self-awareness can lead to
constructive or defensive responses to failure, depending on whether
people feel able to do better in the future. For example, self-awareness
promotes both self-serving and self-blaming attributions for failure
(Duval & Silvia, 2002; Silvia & Duval, 2001). In one experiment (Duval &
Silvia, 2001a, Study 1), people received failure feedback on a self-rele-
vant dimension. Some people were told they could improve; others were
told they could not improve. When self-awareness was high, people
who expected to improve blamed themselves for failing, whereas peo-
ple who did not expect to improve blamed external factors for failure
(see Figure 1). Likewise, self-awareness promotes scapegoating—blam-
ing other people for one’s own failure—when people feel unable to im-
prove, but it leads to self-blame when people feel able to improve (Silvia
& Duval, 2001b). Self-blame for failure, although detrimental to self-es-
teem in the short term (Duval & Silvia, 2002, Study 2), motivates people
to change the self in constructive ways, such as through practicing
(Duval & Lalwani, 1999).
Research on expectancies nicely demonstrates how contextual factors
can determine whether self-awareness has adaptive or maladaptive ef-
fects. When people feel able to improve, high self-awareness leads to try-
ing harder and taking responsibility for failing, which in turn lead to ac-
tual self-improvement and the resolution of problems (Silvia & Duval,
2004). In this case, high self-awareness is more useful than moderate or
low self-awareness. When people feel unable to improve, however, high
self-awareness leads to pinning the blame on other people and on the en-
vironment, avoiding attempts to practice, and giving up early. In this
case, low self-awareness would be more useful because reduced
self-awareness would reduce defensiveness.
Social-clinical research on self-awareness has emphasized dysfunc-
tional and maladaptive aspects of self-focused attention. Self-awareness
certainly plays a role in psychological dysfunction, yet its role in con-
structive functioning should not go unnoticed. Without self-awareness,
it would be difficult for people to take the perspectives of other people,
exercise self-control, produce creative accomplishments, and experi-
ence pride and high self-esteem. Rollo May’s (1967) analysis of
self-awareness as a “human dilemma” highlights the dialectical nature
of self-awareness. In May’s view, constructive living requires synthesiz-
FIGURE 1. How self-awareness and ability to improve affect attributions for failure (from
Duval & Silvia, 2002, Experiment 1).
ing the positive and negative features of self-awareness. Research sug-
gests that people maximize their gain from their capacity for
self-reflection when they set reasonable standards for themselves and
when they feel optimistic about their ability to meet their standards in
the face of setbacks and failures.
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... Self-reflection and insight predicted beneficial outcomes whereas rumination predicted increased costs and reduced benefits associated with self-awareness (Sutton, 2016). Highly self-aware individuals who ruminate are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and neurotic tendencies Silvia & O'Brien, 2004). However, individuals who do meet their personal standards are less likely to ruminate. ...
... Instead, they either engage in reflection that will lead them to either change their ideal standard or change themselves to meet their ideal standard . Therefore, self-awareness can either result in reflection or rumination (Silvia & O'Brien, 2004). ...
... This aligns with the previous discussion on the connection between self-awareness and self-regulation. As previously stated, self-awareness causes an individual to reevaluate their current state and compare it to their ideal standards (Silvia & O'Brien, 2004). When a discrepancy between current state and ideal standards occurs, an individual can either adjust their behaviour to align with the ideal standards, change the ideal standard to align with their current state, or outright avoid the discrepancy. ...
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Background: With the increase in social media usage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, investigation into factors that mitigate excessive and problematic usage is warranted. Factors such as self-awareness were included in the analysis of social media usage as it leads individuals to focus on personal ideal standards, begging the question as to whether high self-awareness limits problematic social media usage. Self-control, strengthened by self-awareness, was measured to examine its involvement in limiting excessive social media usage. Self-esteem and affect were included in analyses as they have never been examined in relation to both self-awareness and social media usage. It was hypothesized that self-awareness would be negatively related to social media usage, given self-control levels are high. Furthermore, self-awareness would be positively related to self-control, self-esteem, and affect, given social media usage is low. Methods: 125 psychology students (73.6% female) completed scales on self-awareness, social media usage, self-esteem, self-control, and affect. Linear regressions with moderation and mediation were conducted. Results: No moderation occurred but it was found that self-control mediated the relationship between self-awareness and social media usage. Self-awareness was positively related to self-esteem, self-control, and positive affect. Social media usage was not significantly related to self-esteem, positive affect, or negative affect. Self-control acted as a mediator in numerous analyses involving self-awareness and social media usage. Conclusions: Self-awareness promotes self-control, resulting in reduced social media usage. Future research should focus on cultivating self-awareness and the consequent self-control to help avoid the negative outcomes associated with social media usage (e.g., reduced self-esteem).
... Hearing our name being called out (Carmody & Lewis, 2006;Moray, 1959), looking at ourselves in a mirror (Carver & Scheier, 1978), being video-taped (Davies, 2005) − all these things narrow our attention focus down to the self. The ability to focus one's attention on the self is an important human ability that can promote self-improvement through selfregulation, but also self-control, creativity and perspective-taking (Carver & Scheier, 1981;Silvia & O'Brien, 2004). This attentional focus on the self can be conscious, explicit, and associated with processing propositional self-related information. ...
... To the extent that self-focus is involved in self-regulation (Silvia & O'Brien, 2004), it is important to consider the possibility that individuals could also be victims of yet another vicious cycle in which feelings of entrapment foster avoidance of self-focus, hence compromising self-regulation, reinforcing in return the feelings of defeat and entrapment. Globally, self-focus can be understood as a potential source of stress that could be especially aversive for individuals with vulnerabilities such as a sense of entrapment. ...
Self-focus has been shown to induce negative thoughts and affects. We hypothesized that individual differences in sense of entrapment moderate the effects of self-focus on failure- and escape-thought accessibility. Participants (N = 150) were briefly primed with their first names or a random string of letters (33 ms), before completing a lexical decision task with words related to success, failure and escape, as well as neutral words. Compared to the control condition, first name priming facilitated identification of failure-related words, and this effect was moderated by self-reported feelings of entrapment. A similar, although marginal, facilitation of name priming was also observed for escape-related words. Sense of entrapment appears to be a vulnerability factor to the negative effects of self-focus.
... These skills potentially require more training to make lasting behavioral changes, while workshops already allow for greater awareness of self and others. These skills of awareness of self and others have been identified as a useful prerequisite for further development of self-regulation and interpersonal skills [31][32][33]. Indeed, in the synthesis by van de Sande et al., 2019, the results indicate greater significant effects for self-regulation and interpersonal skills when evaluation occurs later after the intervention. ...
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Psychosocial competencies, also known as psychosocial skills or life skills, are essential for the prevention and promotion of mental health. Since the beginning of this century, psychosocial competencies have been defined as the ability to develop positive mental health. Most individual or social mental health protection programs are related to psychosocial competencies. A majority of evidence-based programs that develop mental health explicitly aim at developing psychosocial competencies, either exclusively or with complementary approaches. Many of these programs have demonstrated their effectiveness, with lasting effects on reduced anxiety and depression symptoms, violent and risky behaviors, and improved well-being and academic success. Based on international meta-analyses and on 20 years of French national and local experiences, a national strategy to develop psychosocial competencies was launched in France in 2021 for all children from 3 to 25 years old. Two reports on evidence-based psychosocial competence development were published in 2022 by the national agency for public health—Santé publique France (Public Health France)—to support this deployment strategy and develop a common evidence-based culture in health and education. This article presents the French national strategy as an example of a means of increasing evidence-based mental health promotion while discussing the importance of cultural adaptation of such programs.
... • Self-consciousness • Self-awareness Inner speech also serves several important self-reflective functions (e.g., DeSouza, DaSilveira & Gomes, 2008;Morin, 2005Morin, , 2018Neuman & Nave, 2010;Stamenov, 2003;Werning, 2010). Self-reflection makes it possible for humans to self-describe, self-evaluate, and self-regulate (Carver, 2003;Carver & Scheier, 1998); it is correlated with the development of a Theory-of-Mind (Dimaggio, Lysaker, Carcione, Nicolò & Semerari, 2008), self-esteem (Silvia & O'Brien, 2004), self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997), death awareness (Fromm, 1941), and selfconscious emotions (Lewis, Sullivan, Stanger & Weiss, 1989), among other self-related processes (see Morin, 2017). Intense research efforts focused on the localization of selfreferential processes in the brain (e.g., van der Meer, Costafreda, Aleman & David, 2010), animal metacognition (Smith, 2009), mental time travel (Szpunar, 2010), measurement of selfawareness in healthy and brain injured patients (e.g., Cocchini, Cameron, Beschin & Fotopoulou, 2009;Hoerold, Dockree, O'Keeffe, Bate, Pertl & Robertson, 2008), and psychopathological consequences of excessive self-attention (Mor & Winquist, 2002). ...
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In this chapter we summarize results obtained in five studies (n = 1027) using an open format self-report procedure aimed at collecting naturally occurring inner speech in young adults. We look at existing inner speech measures as well as their respective strengths and limitations, emphasizing the appropriateness of an open format self-report method for our purpose. We describe the coding scheme used to organize inner speech instances produced by our participants. We present results in terms of the most frequently self-reported inner speech topics, which sheds light on the typical perceived content and functions of inner speech use. Some of these are: negative emotions, problem solving/thinking, planning/time management, self-motivating speech, emotional control, and self-reflection. These results are consistent with the self-regulatory and self-reflective functions of inner speech discussed in the literature, as well as with what several existing questionnaires aim to measure. However, our results also show that young adults in our samples talk to themselves about various topics and for multiple functions not captured by current research on inner speech. We conclude with a brief discussion regarding the relevance of our results for education.
... Kode simbolis dari mereka yang terdidik dalam satu konteks budaya mengacu pada nilai dan asumsi yang berbeda (Stewart, Danelian & Foster, 2002), mereka mewujudkan pandangan berbeda tentang manusia dan dunia. Definisi kesadaran diri adalah kapasitas untuk memusatkan perhatian pada diri sendiri, dan mengevaluasi diri sendiri apakah dalam penegasan positif atau negatif (Silvia & O'Brien, 2004). Dalam profesi konseling, kesadaran diri dikaitkan dengan etika reflektif pengambilan keputusan, pedagogi pelatihan konseling, dan konseling (Evans, Levitt,& Henning, 2012). ...
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Tujuan dari artikel ini adalah untuk mengkaji secara teoritik mengenai kesadaran multikultural seorang konselor. Kesadaran multikultural adalah tugas mediator dalam membuka komunikasi antara dua subjek yang berinteraksi dan tidak mengenal satu sama lain dan tinggal dalam budaya dan bahasa yang berbeda. Proses intervensi yang digunakan untuk meningkatkan kesadaran pribadi, telah terbukti berdampak pada kesadaran multikultural, pengetahuan, dan keterampilan. Adapun hambatan dalam meningkatkan kesadaran multikultural konselor antara lain penggunaan bahasa dalam penyediaan layanan konseling. Diharapkan artikel ini memberikan perspektif untuk meningkatkan kesadaran multikultural konselor dan meningkatkan efektifitas program pelatihan multikultural konselor.
Conference Paper
Our analysis reveals the presence of internal and external bias blind spots that influenced decision-making in this context. By utilizing the Bias Blind Spot Graph Model, we demonstrate how decision-makers can address these underlying biases and achieve flexible decisions.
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Psychologists and moral philosophers have much to say about self-awareness and so it is no surprise that in leadership research self-awareness also has come to play an important role. For some time now, leadership research has been dominated by psychologists and we argue that their version of the self-awareness is very thin. It is empty of morality and therefore offers only a partial understanding of humanity. That make its conclusions for leadership ineffective and unethical. Psychology-driven approaches to leadership stress effectiveness: leaders make followers work towards a given goal in an effective manner. Self-awareness, to them, is a thorough understanding of one’s strengths, weaknesses, values, how others see one, all with the goal of turning people into followers. Since ethics is excluded, this view of self-awareness lacks a foundational moral concept: respect/dignity and is closer to self-assessment. Building on Immanuel Kant and other German Idealists, Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel proposed a theory of the development of self-awareness that is more holistic as it situates the individual in a social and moral context and thus transcends the purely functional view of the self-other relationship propagated in psychological approaches. We concretely argue that psychological approaches to leadership systematically drive managers into a catastrophic situation that Hegel describes in the Master-Slave Dialectic. Understanding Hegelian self-awareness prevents leaders becoming self-less masters. Truly self-aware leaders heed the warning of the Humanity Formulation of Kant’s Categorial Imperative, namely that they must always treat humanity, whether in their own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end. They understand their self, they understand its social and moral dimension, and they see their self-reflected in the other.
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This study explores patterns of thought and movement in the living ‘body’ of playwork theory and practice, through firsthand experiences shared by adventure playground staff. Adventure playgrounds offer rich and dynamic environments within which children are primarily self-directed. Staff are expected to respond (rather than react) flexibly and reflectively to their cues, offering physical, emotional and material support to play processes while mitigating the impact of adult agendas. In doing so, playworkers draw and elaborate upon a shared theoretical framework and vocabulary. This practitioner- researcher study was closely informed by autoethnographic, grounded theory, and embodied approaches to qualitative research. Somatic paradigms are grounded in firsthand sensory knowledge, and recent years have seen significant interdisciplinary development and application of somatic concepts in dance and performance research as well as psychology, therapeutics, and critical social theory. Fieldwork at two adventure playgrounds in the USA formed the bulk of data for this study, which includes reflective playwork diaries, transcripts of team meetings, and interviews with colleague-participants. These illustrate complex ways in which playwork may be embodied by practitioners, and indicated an important gap between embodied nature of practice and its more abstract representation in playwork literature. Playwork interventions are specific to each site, relationship and moment, but may nonetheless share common underlying processes and influencing factors. A proposed somatic paradigm for playwork establishes connections between adventure playgrounds as ‘safe enough’ places for children to play freely, and ‘safe enough’ places for practitioners to learn, reflect, and change habitual patterns of interaction. This study explores embodied aspects of direct play support and reflective practices, and examines ‘the body’ implicit through conceptual metaphors in abstract language and theory. Finally, this study develops and presents a concept of reflective playwork capacity, with the hope of facilitating personal, professional and collective transformation in support of children’s play.
This research is motivated by the phenomenon of first semester students who have problems adapting to educational conditions due to changes in the learning system and environment during the pandemic which makes students feel stressed and not confident in taking education. Therefore, a method is needed that can make students more confident, one of which is by increasing the knowledge of students themselves through the Psychology of Self-Development course. This study aims to examine the effect of giving psychology courses on self-development to first-semester students. This study used a quasi-experimental method with a pretest-posttest technique. The subjects of this study consisted of 17 men and 108 women. Measurements in this study used the Paired Sample T-Test, where the results of the test showed a significance value of less than 0.05 (0.00) which indicated a significant difference between the pretest score and the post-test score. So it can be said that presenting the Psychology of Self-Development course is a method used to assist students in increasing Self-confidence. Thus, there is an influence between presenting the self-development course on the self-confidence of the first semester students of the Faculty of Psychology, Tarumanegara University.
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In this chapter a theory of motivation and emotion developed from an attributional perspective is presented. Before undertaking this central task, it might be beneficial to review the progression of the book. In Chapter 1 it was suggested that causal attributions have been prevalent throughout history and in disparate cultures. Studies reviewed in Chapter 2 revealed a large number of causal ascriptions within motivational domains, and different ascriptions in disparate domains. Yet some attributions, particularly ability and effort in the achievement area, dominate causal thinking. To compare and contrast causes such as ability and effort, their common denominators or shared properties were identified. Three causal dimensions, examined in Chapter 3, are locus, stability, and controllability, with intentionality and globality as other possible causal properties. As documented in Chapter 4, the perceived stability of a cause influences the subjective probability of success following a previous success or failure; causes perceived as enduring increase the certainty that the prior outcome will be repeated in the future. And all the causal dimensions, as well as the outcome of an activity and specific causes, influence the emotions experienced after attainment or nonattainment of a goal. The affects linked to causal dimensions include pride (with locus), hopelessness and resignation (with stability), and anger, gratitude, guilt, pity, and shame (with controllability).
Tested an attentional model of fear-based behavior with 44 undergraduates. It was predicted that among Ss with moderate fear of snakes, heightened self-attention during an approach attempt would cause increased awareness of existing anxiety, followed by 1 of 2 courses of events: Ss who believed that they could do the behavior in spite of their fear were expected to redirect their attention to the behavior-goal comparison and exhibit no behavioral deficit. Ss who doubted their ability to do the behavior were expected to divert their attention from the behavior-goal comparison and to withdraw behaviorally from the approach attempt. Results support this reasoning and discussion centers on relationships between the proposed model and previous theory. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
Self-awareness - the ability to recognize one's existence - is one of the most important variables in psychology. Without self-awareness, people would be unable to self-reflect, recognize differences between the self and others, or compare themselves with internalized standards. Social, clinical, and personality psychologists have recognized the significance of self-awareness in human functioning, and have conducted much research on how it participates in everyday life and in psychological dysfunctions. Self-Awareness & Causal Attribution: A Dual-Systems Theory presents a new theory of how self-awareness affects thought, feeling, and action. Based on experimental social-psychological research, the authors describe how several interacting cognitive systems determine the links between self-awareness and organized activity. This theory addresses when people become self-focused, how people internalize and change personal standards, when people approach or avoid troubling situations, and the nature of self-evaluation. Special emphasis is given to causal attribution, the process of perceiving causality. Self-Awareness & Causal Attribution will be useful to social, clinical, and personality psychologists, as well as to anyone interested in how the self relates to motivation and emotion.
Evidence for the self-serving bias (attributing success internally and failure externally) is inconsistent. Although internal success attributions are consistently found, researchers find both internal and external attributions for failure. The authors explain these disparate effects by considering the intersection of 2 systems, a system comparing self against standards and a causal attribution system. It was predicted that success and failure attributions are moderated by self-awareness and by the ability to improve. When self-focus is high (a) success is attributed internally, (b) failure is attributed internally when people can improve, (c) failure is attributed externally when people cannot improve, and (d) these attributions affect state self-esteem. Implications for the self-serving bias are discussed.
Self-focused attention has been linked to social anxiety and poor social performance, but the causal direction of this relationship has not been established. For this study, focus of attention was manipulated during a speech task, conducted in pairs for 38 individuals with generalized social phobia. Results indicated that intensifying self-focused attention increased anticipated anxiety and anxious appearance, regardless of whether the individual was giving a speech or passively standing before the audience. The self-focus manipulation also increased self-reported anxiety during the task, but only for individuals assigned to a passive role. Contrary to expectation, self-focused attention did not affect any measure of social performance. These results indicate that self-focused attention may play a causal role in exacerbating social anxiety.
Assessed whether lack of self-awareness and conscious planning, group unity, and disinhibited behavior occurred together in deindividuating settings as predicted by E. Diener's (1979) theory of deindividuation. The characteristics and effects of group-induced deindividuation with non-socially-induced non-self-awareness was also compared. The 3 conditions were deindividuated, non-self-aware, and self-aware. After the manipulations, 126 undergraduates chose inhibited vs disinhibited tasks in a supposed "creativity" session, followed by a variety of deindividuation measures. Results reveal that the deindividuation group surpassed the other 2 on the deindividuation factor and on most of the individual measures. For some of the variables, the deindividuation and non-self-aware groups differed significantly, suggesting that deindividuation may not be identical in every respect to lack of self-awareness induced in a non-social way. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).