Psychology: THE SELF

A revision summary of 'The Self' based around the OCR GCSE Psychology exam paper 2. 

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  • Created by: Chloe
  • Created on: 19-05-11 20:13

Key Concepts

- The self in our inner being, or who we come to believe we are.

- Every one of us is a unique package. Unique: a one off, which is not repeated; individual.

- Free will: The ability to make your own decisions, uninfluenced by other factors. We are a product of our selves and the self is unique.

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Core Theory: Humanistic Theory Of Self

- Developed in the 1950's by Maslow & Rogers. The aim was to take on the behaviourist psychologists. Followers of Freud, who insisted that we are all controlled by our unconscious.

- Each of us has the power to decide on our actions. We should focus on the present and not the past. We are all motivated to fulfil our potential.

- Rogers: Our self-concept (how we perceive ourselves) begins to develop between 1-2 yrs. This depends on how others reflect back to us. Our ideal self is how we would like to be and the difference between the two determines out self-esteem. If others show us unconditional positive regards then this will raise our self-esteem (a measure of how much we value ourselves).

- Maslow: Hierarchy of needs - basic biological needs at the bottom and self-actualisation at the top (fulfilling our potential).

- When someone's self-concept closely matches their ideal self, they have much more reason to value themselves - they are more or less who they want to be.

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Continuing of Humanistic Theory

- Unconditional positive regard: Showing an individual love without expecting certain conditions to be met.

- Self-actualisation: The idea that each of us has an inborn drive to want to fulfil our potential. Maslows Triangle - becoming yourself. Level 1 (furthest away)- 5 (there). 

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Criticisms of the Humanistic Theory

- The ideas are vague and difficult to measure objectively. People cannot easily study 'yourself'. It is difficult to establish what a persons 'ideal self' is or how much they have 'self-actualised'.

- The theory is not scientific. Ideas difficult to test and measure. The research was not very representative.

- Humanists focus too much on the individual. 

- The humanistic theory of the self egnores genetic evidence.

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Alternative Theory: Trait Theory

Eysenck: Personality has a genetic basis and a biological explanation (mid-brain activity - reticular activating system - activates higher parts of our brain).

He states that personality in stable and can be measured on a scale: extraversion & neuroticism. So, you can score high or low on the extraversion - introversion score and likewise on the neuroticism - stability score.

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Core Study: Van Houtte and Jarvis (1995)

Aim: What part do pers have in the psychosocial development of pre-adolescents.

Procedure: 130 pupils (71 boys & 59 girls) from Illinois selected based on whether they were pet owners or not. They were matched and given a questionnaire on a self-esteem scale. Offered the right to withdraw but all chose to participant. Participants were mainly white American.

1) Marital status of their parent. (married, divorced, separated)

2) Socio-economic status of their parents. (occupation, income, housing)

3) Number of brothers & sisters they had.

Results: Pet owners have a higher self-esteem and higher autonomy. So pets can offer unconditional positive regard for pet owners. 11 yr olds positively influence self-concept. Greater impact on children's lives. Pets for the elderly.

Limitations: Self-report questionnaires may be unreliable, lack of qualitative data, sample not representative. 

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Applications of Research into the self: Counsellin

- Rogers' client-centred theraphy useful in dealing with depression. (Promotes unconditional positive regard & self actualisation). The client leads more than the therapist. Therapist no longer an expert and more of a helper.

- Relate relationship counselling. Basic aim to to make it possible, for example, for couples in a strained relationship and possibly considering divorce. In 2008, relate counsellors saw 150,000 clients at over 600 counselling centres.

- Careers guidance. Connexions careers service. Follows Rogers method to help children with what to do after education.

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