Self-Perception Essay

1. Introspection according to the text is the “looking inward at one’s own thoughts and feelings” (p. 55). In other words it is a subjective perception of what we believe our thoughts and feelings are and ought to be in the future or present. Introspection is about feelings and reasons regarding something, which oftentimes turns into affective forecasting yet can lead to the durability bias.

Self-perception on the other hand refers to watching one’s own behavior the way others observe it i.e. without looking inward, yet rather from an independent point of view. Self-perception is about inference that we make about ourselves when observing our actions and behavior.

The text spoke of self-perception of emotion study that concluded that facial expressions indeed can magnify our emotions and even create them (fear, happiness, angriness as discussed in text). I believe that study supported the self-perception theory since it certainly required observation of facial expressions and then let people make conclusions about the emotional state of an individual playing with facial expressions.

2. There are several mechanisms of self-enhancement as shown below:
a. Implicit Egoism. This states that people like themselves a lot, and especially their names and subconsciously strive to work, live and participate in activities they relate to themselves and that resemble their names. Benefit: we like ourselves and are motivated. Hazard: we may take irrational decisions just to do what our ego tells us.

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b. Self-serving cognitions. This is when people usually take credit for successes and blame others for failures. Benefit: We don’t get much stress since it’s someone else’s (not our fault). Hazard: By blaming others, we fail to notice our faults and learn from failures.
c. Self-handicapping. This mechanism provides people with excuses for their actions and behaviors. Self-handicapping psychologically reduces the chances of failures and saves people’s face. Benefit: Excuses save our face, no one mocks us. Hazard: We are not productive and can fail.
d. Baking in reflected glory (BIRG). This mechanism gives people motivation and boosts self-esteem when people associate themselves with other successful people. Benefit: Association inspires us and makes us feel as powerful as objects we associate ourselves to (e.g. football team, military, political party) Hazard: When we understand that BIRG is a fake and the party we associate ourselves with does in no way help us, we can be depressed.
e. Downward social comparison. This mechanism gives people motivation and boosts their own self-esteem, when they start to compare themselves with other less fortunate, less advanced and less successful people. Benefit: We experience less stress, since there are people who are much worse than we are. Hazard: By comparing ourselves to losers we do not progress and thus do not develop and succeed.

3. According to the two factor theory of emotions, I could use a placebo pill to make a soldier feel calmer in a combat situation. In order for the pill to work, I would have to make a conversation with the soldier explaining how the pill works and what effects it has on people who take it (soldier is likely to figure out that the same effect the pill will surely have on him). The more I explained the feelings the pill was to create in soldiers the likely the pill would work. The pill would reduce anxiety because according to the two factor theory of emotion emotions are based on physiological arousal and cognitive interpretation. Thus, after giving a placebo pill, I would have to act as if I personally became calmer and comment that I personally observe that the soldier is getting calmer. Without the ability to interpret the changed emotional state, the soldier would then believe in the placebo pill and the faith in the pill would ameliorate the pill’s effect on the soldier. Technically one could use placebo pill to induce absolutely any emotion in the soldier.

4. The text spoke of various studies and initiated by Kathleen Vohs and Todd Heatherton who proved that self-control is an inner limited resource and it usually wears out. Attempted self-control initially can influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors the way we want yet after a while it causes us to give up rather quickly. Ironic effects of self control means that the more one tries to stop or inhibit some thought or idea, the less likely the person is to succeed as Wegner put it “any attempt at mental control contains the seeds of its own undoing” (p. 75). In simple terms, people tend to do what is forbidden or tempting and the study illustrated in the text regarding the pendulum proves that well. Ironic effects are similar to that of self-awareness in the following way. Self-awareness typically causes people to feel badly about themselves. It appears that although people know that fact that self-awareness has negative impact on the mood, they engage in self-awareness whenever they have time to. When, they are busy doing other things, no self-awareness takes place. By the same token, as ironic effects theory implies, the only thing about “not doing something” is doing something else. Thus, I believe the only thing that can stop me from thinking about a white bear is to think about a red apple (or something else).

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