UK Custom Essay Sample on «Discussion Guide: Knowing the Self»

Discussion Guide: Knowing the Self

      1. In Wilson & Dunn, the abstract claims that “introspection cannot provide a direct pipeline” to the some mental processes that might be needed to know the self. What does this mean, and is this a problem? Why or why not?

The knowledge of the self cannot be limited and includes various factors. It is not possible to know the self through one approach such as introspection. In many cases, introspection is objective, as it is hard for the individual to understand him or herself. The main reason is that people ‘block’ some memories, and experiences that can lead into lack of self awareness or understanding the self. According to Wilson and Dunn (2004), “People often attempt to block out unwanted thoughts and feelings through conscious suppression and perhaps through unconscious repression, though whether such attempts are successful is controversial.”

Protective mechanisms are special type of mental activity, which is realized in specific methods of information processing that can prevent loss of self-esteem and avoid destruction of unity "I". Thus, the person tears away that information, which threatens destruction of the personality value idea, arranging it as the person is interested in preservation of habitual, stable self-perception. Externally it looks as if the person does not react or oppositely react, to neutralize the psycho injuring moments. Supporting the habitual level of self-esteem, the person blocks an adequate assessment of changes in the social environment and in the inner world, i.e. is disoriented, loses will and courage, it is not ready to acceptance of responsibility.

As a result, an individual can know about him or her only what he/she wants to know. People choose their own image on unconscious level, and their self-awareness is based on this image. In addition, people can be limited in viewing themselves, and there are various factors that can result in it. For example, lack of self-esteem may lead to various limitations in self knowledge.

Many people are not satisfied with their lives, appearance, surrounding, personal characteristics or career, but every person can become anybody he or she wants by making some efforts. There is no ugly person, but there are many of those who do not believe in their beauty. Self-esteem does not mean selfishness but confidence and respect, which help to feel the harmony with surrounding world. An individual who has lack of self-esteem cannot be very objective.

As it was mentioned above, an individual can block some memories, for example, it is hard to make introspection as in most cases, people ‘block’ their negative experiences, where they done something in a wrong way. Consequently, people create more positive image of themselves. However, there can be an opposite reaction. For example, people can create more negative image of them and do not see positive sides.

      2. What are some other routes to self-knowledge? What do they have in common?

According to Wilson and Dunn, there are some other vital approaches in self understanding, for example, observation by other people. While observing, it is possible to be more objective, as introspection not always shows all aspects of the self, as the person cannot be fully objective towards him or herself. Wilson and Dunn (2004) claim, “Other ways of increasing self-knowledge include looking at ourselves through the eyes of others and observing our own behavior. These approaches can potentially promote self-knowledge, although major obstacles exist.”

It is vital for the individual to get objective information according him or herself. Other people can help the person to view him/her from different sides. As it was mentioned above, people are not fully objective according themselves, and can block some memories and experiences of their life. There is a term Enlightenment that means this ability mostly showed as the ‘journey’ to enlightenment, to person wisdom, and self-development, as the main hero recognizes his mistakes and becomes more decent, stronger, and wise (Landau, Creenberg & Solomon, 2008). In order to get this enlightenment, an individual must pass the way, and learn through his or her own experience. There are various ways of self knowledge. Many authors claim that the main way to understand yourself is to experience challenges in life. During probations and challenges, an individual can open his or herself from the new side. Soul is progressing and goes to enlightenment by trials. They help to temper the reactions and develop higher spiritual feelings, presented in the form of incentives, disappointment, betrayal, frustration, mistakes, losses and even illnesses and injuries. In process of transition from one period of life to another, the individual should pass a number of tests urged to expand the Internal Wisdom. They are given not to threaten, but to teach something new. These tests represent no other than the neutral help allowing to be convinced of own spiritual progress and to achieve the objectives. In this case, individual will be able to understand strengths and weaknesses of the soul and to start working on development of those spheres of life, which need further growth.

      3. What does it mean that implicit and explicit measures of personality, attitudes, self-esteem, and so on correlate poorly with each other? When do they correlate? Draw some conclusions about the self from this information.

The implicit and explicit measures of personality, attitudes, and self-esteem have different characteristics and in some cases poorly correlate with each other. The issue is that all these factors influence conduct in different way. The sign of the personality is the existence of consciousness. The consciousness is understood in philosophy and psychology as reflexive consciousness, i.e. understanding of the subject his or her own meaning, i.e. subjectivity. The consciousness of the personality is the understanding of itself that depends on the purposes and tasks facing the challenges that person can encounter in various forms and be shown as self-knowledge, self-assessment, self-checking and self-perception. The sense of self-knowledge consists in detection of the physical and spiritual characteristics, and the place among others. The self-knowledge is a basis of continuous development self-checking and self-control of the person. Self-checking is shown in understanding and an assessment of own actions, mental states, regulation of their course on the basis of requirements and norms of activity, behavior, communication. Self-checking represents the special psychological mechanism of knowledge of as subject of activity and communication.

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The self-assessment can be adequate and inadequate, i.e. overestimated and underestimated. Understating or overestimate of a self-assessment of the personality is shown in activity and affects results of activity. The self-assessment is shown in the estimated attitude towards itself, to the psychological qualities, i.e. this knowledge of own personality including personal self assessment and also a scale of significant values concerning, which this self-assessment is defined (distinctions in estimation of in different everyday situations from here).

      4. Know the main postulates/claims made by self-perception theory (Bem, 1972) as well as some of its major findings. What is the basic question that self-perception theory is trying to address? Do you think the studies reported provide satisfying answers? Why or why not?

Self-perception theory claims that people can know the self through observation of their own behaviors rather than introspection. Bem found out that manifestations of a cognitive dissonance can be explained by means of so-called to "the theory of self-perception". According to its provisions, researches of a dissonance do not concern "the negative inducing state" at all; they work with how people from the belief, watching the acts. The theory of self-perception is based on two main prerequisites:

  1. People have the relation to something - or, the emotions and other internal states, partially observing the behavior in various situations.
  2. As the internal signals are weak, not certain or unclear, people appear approximately in the same situation, as the observer drawing these conclusions.

The theory of self-perception tries to interpret results, which were received by Festinger and Karlsmit, arguing with their conclusions that the examinees who appeared in situation highly appreciating a task, receiving only one dollar, meant that the task has to be pleasant to them (the same conclusion would be drawn by the foreign observer). On the other hand – participants in twenty-dollar conditions concluded that their behavior was not different as the opinion of the foreign observer would be the answer to the offer of a good reward – same. The difference between the theory of self-perception and the theory of a dissonance consists that the first explains a classical dissonance definitions with those terms by what people determine the reasons of the behavior while the theory of a cognitive dissonance uses for this purpose terms of natural motivation for weakening of the internal conflict. As Bem claimed that participants draw about themselves own conclusions.

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This theory has sense as, in many cases the ‘external’ information can bring more information according to the self rather than introspection. This meant that self-perception is an opposite of introspection.

      5. If we infer our internal states from things “external” to the self, what is it that exists “inside” the self prior to making an inference?

The inside is closely connected with unconscious, or intuition.  It means that inside voices or intuition dictates how to behave in a specific situation. The inner voice is based on personal experience as well as the experiences of other. This feeling is unconscious and hard to explain. Freud's psychoanalytic theory is based on belief that in the course of interaction of people their children's experience is reproduced. According to Freud, in various life situations people apply the concepts acquired in the early childhood. People are inclined to treat faithfully the person who has the power, for example to the chief – as he reminds someone from parents. Freud considered that people form social groups and remain in them partly because have feeling of devotion and humility to leaders of groups

Seldom people look for answers, even intuitively, on some unexpressed questions or try to understand what happens to them. Perhaps, the experience which an individual shares, will help someone "to take a step forward" in knowledge of itself, in the solution of some life situations. Share the experience; and give advice looking for the Way.

Process of self-knowledge – is a hard way, but interesting, long in life. Everything that is connected with spiritual development has no limit, this process infinite, but very interesting. Each person’s experience is unique, as well as his way of self-knowledge. That is why it is important to learn new, to impart experience, respect opinions and knowledge of other people, to listen to the different points of view, hypotheses, theories, etc.


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