به سمت مقایسه اجتماعی آگاهانه: وقتی که خود عینی و ذهنی دو به دو ناسازگار هستند
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|36977||2007||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 25, Issue 3, December 2007, Pages 221–232
Abstract Although mindless evaluations typically accompany social comparisons, they are not necessary, and may be costly. We describe how mindlessness enters the social comparison process at two points. First, during the social comparison both self and other are mindlessly de-contextualized, through (1) biased selection of relevant behaviors, (2) biased selection of criteria along which behaviors are compared, (3) lack of knowledge of intent behind behavior, (4) lack of knowledge about representativeness of behavior, (5) lack of knowledge about typicality of future behavior as moderated by learning, (6) improper understanding of the meaning of behavior, and (7) lack of knowledge about motivations generating the comparisons. Second, the affective results of the social comparison are often mindlessly generalized to the global self, while the breadth and complexity of the network of attributes that constitute to the ‘self’ is ignored. Global-self-evaluative social comparisons forfeit the potential of gaining accurate and usable information about personal attributes.
1. Introduction Festinger's (1954) first formulation of social comparison, a process whereby individuals learn about their own abilities and skills by comparing themselves to others, emphasizes a need for accurate self-perception as a driving force behind social comparisons. This emphasis on accuracy in understanding attributes of self makes sound evolutionary sense. Festinger (1954) hypothesized that inaccurate perception of one's attributes and abilities can be “punishing or even fatal in some situations” (p.117). One can easily see how overestimating one's ability (of strength in a bar brawl, of skill in deep-sea diving) can be life threatening, or how underestimating oneself (in terms of attractiveness or intellect, for example) can lead to less successful outcomes in personal and professional realms.1 Yet, very soon after Festinger's original formulation, many researchers moved away from issues surrounding accuracy and toward work that focuses on motivational forces and evaluative outcomes of the social comparison process. While Festinger (1954) pointed out that social comparisons with similar individuals will yield most information about one's own attributes or opinions, research showed that individuals were as likely to compare themselves to nonsimilar individuals, yielding gains (and sometimes losses) in positive affect or self-esteem (Wheeler & Miyake, 1992). Wood (1989), in her review of research on social comparison in the three decades following Festinger's original formulation, suggested that in addition to the goal of accurately evaluating one's attributes, social comparisons are as likely to serve goals of self-improvement and self-enhancement. It turned out that individuals wanting to feel better about themselves may employ downward social comparison strategy, comparing themselves to those who are comparatively worse on a certain trait or ability (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1993; Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & LaPrelle, 1985; Reiss & Gibbons, 1993; Wheeler & Miyake, 1992; Wills, 1981; Wood & VanderZee, 1997). Those engaging in upward social comparison (Wheeler, 1966)—comparing themselves with those better than they are on some trait—might feel better or worse, depending on whether the achievement of those others seems attainable and on whether we are comparing those achievements with our own ‘best’ or just ‘ordinary’ selves (Lockwood & Kunda (1997) and Lockwood & Kunda (1999)). If the achievement of others seems attainable, and if we compare their extraordinary achievements with our ‘usual’ rather than ‘best’ selves, then we feel better, for there is still hope for perhaps reaching similar heights of achievements. If their achievements seem unattainable, particularly when compared with our ‘best’ selves, then we are likely to feel worse. Despite the fact that upward social comparisons may yield negative outcomes in terms of affect or self-esteem, Collins (1996) showed that individuals often engage in them (as in downward social comparisons) for self-enhancing purposes. An implied assumption of much research on affective consequences of social comparison is that thinking oneself as having more or less value than others as a consequence of downward or upward social comparisons of attributes is a necessary result of individuals encountering social information relevant to self. We shall argue, on the other hand, that global-self-evaluative outcomes accompanying social comparisons are not necessary, but rather, common outcomes of mindless processing of social information about the attributes in question. We propose there exist, in effect, two modes of social comparison processes, mindless and mindful, the former resulting in global self-evaluations with affective consequences, and the latter in a more accurate understanding of one's attributes. The traditional research on social comparisons assumes a single mode, one that in this paper we call ‘mindless’ social comparison. Our argument concerning mindless social comparisons is two partite. First, an attempt at social comparison of attributes in question is often rendered inaccurate and therefore uninformative by the mindless de-contextualization of one's own and others’ attributes and experiences. Second, social comparison processes often involve a mindless generalization of affective consequences from particular attributes to a global self, a process we will show is detrimental to gaining accurate understanding of attributes in question. Both kinds of mindless processing of social comparison information are linked with overidentifying oneself with the past narrative and experiential component of self—‘Me’ (an object), rather than continually emerging, contextually complex agent, ‘I’ (a subject). After defining mindfulness, and placing it in the context of other self-as-subject/object theoretical frameworks, we shall expand on these arguments, expose a paradox they contain, and propose an alternative—what we call a ‘mindful’ social comparison. Mindfulness, as defined by Langer (e.g. Langer (1978), Langer (1989), Langer (1997) and Langer (2005)), is a state of awareness in which cognitive distinctions about objects of awareness are continually made, with the environment (and self) thus continually treated as emerging and novel. The result of mindful awareness is that these continually emergent aspects of the immediate context take experiential precedence over the categorizations that have been useful in the past. While mindfully aware, one does not deny the relevance of categories derived from past experience—it is only that they are experienced as flexible and permeable enough to be susceptible to change in response to new information. Mindless awareness, on the other hand, overutilizes categorizations made in the past, keeps them rigid and impermeable, making new social comparison information obscured, and thus ineffectual. It must be kept in mind that mindful/mindless dichotomy does not map directly onto the difference between effortful and automatic processing, nor between paying attention and not paying attention (the common connotation of ‘mindless’ being absent minded or inattentive). One can mindlessly pay close attention to rigid categories, and automatically (effortlessly) perceive one's environment (and self) as continually emerging. When experiencing self, a temporal distinction can be made: mindful, ‘real-time’2 experience of self as a continually emerging agent, an agent that stands in an interactive relationship with one's past experiences and narratives of oneself, and mindless experience of self as frozen in time (necessarily past time), including an overidentification and rigidity of interpreted categories of past and future selves. The more we experience self as a ‘subject’, ever-newly-emerging experiencer, the less this same self can be an ‘object’, an impermeable and unchanging past construction. Our subject/object distinction is similar to the distinction of James's (1902) between ‘I’, self-as-knower, and ‘Me’, self-as known. He took care to observe that it is in the nature of ‘I’ not to be able to observe all of itself (‘I’ paradoxically being always one step ahead of itself), and that thus only ‘Me’ part of the self can be subject to psychological study. The fact, however, that we can never perceive (and thus evaluate) self, in toto (including its ‘I’ component), does not mean that we should not aim toward enhanced perception of those parts of self that are within the domain of perception and understanding. Additionally, our usage of self as including subject (‘I’) and object (‘Me) needs to be distinguished from what Duval and Wicklund (1972) and Silvia and Duval (2001) call ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ self-awareness. According to their theory, objective self-awareness is a state in which attention is focused on the self (thus one is the ‘object’ of one's own awareness), while subjective self-awareness results when attention is focused away from the self, when “the person experiences himself as a source of perception and action” (Duval & Wicklund, 1972, p.2). It follows from this view that the only path to comparing oneself with others is a mindless one, that of viewing the self (and other) as an object, the Jamesian ‘Me’, and resulting in evaluation of global self. We propose that there is a second, mindful, path to this process where self and the other, in the process of comparison, are seen not as rigid repositories of personal history, but as continually emerging and therefore necessarily only partially known subjects (Jamesian ‘I’). Mindfulness, by definition, promotes the experience of self as a continually changing subject, while mindlessness promotes the experience of self as passive, stable, and reactive object. We shall show why mindless experience of self as an object is inferior to mindful experience of self as a subject with respect to what Festinger (1954) considered a proper aim of social comparison—accurate self-perception. Now we turn to two components of the social comparison process that are often engaged with mindlessly, thus reducing the possibility of accurate self-perception: First, mindless de-contextualization of both self and other during the comparison; and second, mindless generalizing of the relative evaluation of the attributes as implicating the whole ‘self’. We shall deal with each in turn.
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