The Innate Self-Concept and the Fragility of Community Bias (c. 2012)

Philosphical views turned human behavioral psychology turned daily pedestrian observance.

October 9, 2012

The Innate Self-Concept and the Fragility of Community Bias

1. A person’s self-concept is a strong iron cast shielding the fragile personality, character and overall individuality of one’s persona. It’s a natural response for the self-concept to try and protect the individual. In place, we undergo self-enhancement. We bask in our own glory, self-handicap when need be, become defensive of ourselves, compare people detrimentally, and above all, raise ourselves higher than our perspective pedestals into a cloud of egotism. As unnatural as it may seem, it is an entirely natural defense mechanism (usually), whether the defense is externally, when another person questions our being, or internally, when we question our very own being. The false-consensus effect plays a big part in the growth of self-enhancement. We constantly overestimate other people’s opinions and agreement with us. Sometimes we overestimate how much people notice us. For example, when you trip in front of people you automatically assume that everyone saw you trip and the embarrassment of that fact rushes over you, when in truth, no one probably noticed, and if they did they probably didn’t think anything of it. We also overestimate how much people like us. For example, we might put on a great “show” of our personality and overall self for someone and because we put forth so much effort, we automatically assume that the person completely adores us. Neither assumption in either case may be true, therefore leading to the false-consensus effect, the seemingly most common bias. Another bias, which is very similar to the false-consensus effect, is counterfactual thinking, or the imagined alternatives to realty.

When self-enhancement takes place, counterfactual thinking plays the first key role in the bolstering of the self-concept. For instance, if you have an uncomfortable situation to deal with and before it actually happens you run the scenario through your head planning out everything you’re going to say and do, you will usually have a positive state of mind, thinking “I handled that situation really well”, almost replacing reality with the imaginative situation. When we outline the situation imaginatively we may then pursue to address the situation in reality, therefore negatively raising our self-concept.

Incentives are what move us to achieve a goal. In order for us to see things a certain way or to reach a certain conclusion we may use motivational bias to justify the expansion of our self-concept. Innately, we want people we interact with to agree with our ideas and opinions. Sometimes in order to gain approval of others, we attribute our actions to our own personal gain, therefore forming a motivational bias in the simplest form.

Whether the process we take to bolster our self-concept is implicit, explicit, innate, or unconsciously done, self –enhancement is a natural process we undergo to relate to other people around us, and most importantly to relate to ourselves.

2. When you’re in a high and powerful political position all eyes are on you. You have to be wary of the decisions you make, whether you agree with new ideas or policies wholeheartedly or not. Taking on the task of reducing or ridding stereotypes, prejudice, racism, and discrimination would be extraordinarily difficult to succeed in. Even attempting the task would perhaps bring certain groups anger in the attempt to reduce these social factors. It’s possible that a negative cognitive heuristic would occur within the stereotypical groups where they entirely flip the cause by assuming that the politician takes on the role of an actual racist or discriminator as to “silent the minorities” or “silent the blondes”, whatever the stereotype, especially when the politician may not be a part of their stereotypical group.

Initially, by putting people into groups, that is what separated them and that is where stereotypes start; in separation. The social identity theory should be changed by replacing the specific identity with a group to the specific identity as an individual pertaining to one’s self-concept. Removing the idea of “groups” would be removing stereotypes. Without the categorization, there is only the individual.

To avoid discrimination, the first project in the task of reducing stereotypes would be to create scholarships for every possible “category” of people so that no group of people is singled out and ultimately there is no categorization of “group”, again, only the individual. The next step would be to campaign, as nonchalantly as possible, to stop the automaticity of stereotyping. Holding community events that are all inclusive and relaxed could be the initial start. It is important that the realistic conflict theory has no room to play a part in the community by having a surplus of resources. It is extremely difficult to change, rectify, and even abolish people’s opinions of other people, but as expensive as this process would be, the repercussions would be absolutely positive in the community.

Throughout the community, individualism would progress and society would pay less attention to groups, status and association with “certain” people. If a position can succeed in assuming the power of individualism, then prospectively stereotypes would progressively cease to exist.

Theory on individualism and the creation and practice of stereotypes.

-C

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