Representations of the self: Conditions and effects of self-association

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Dokumentart: Dissertation
Date: 2020-10-20
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Psychologie
Advisor: Hesse, Friedrich (Prof. Dr. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2020-09-29
DDC Classifikation: 150 - Psychology
Keywords: Selbstdarstellung , Social Media
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License: Publishing license excluding print on demand
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Stimuli that we associate to ourselves and serve as self-representations are relevant in information processing; they reduce cognitive load by prioritizing that which signals to be directly relevant to us. Self-representations such as our own name and face have been found to impact various stages of information processing, including affect and behavior. However, it is unclear whether such effects transfer to newly established self-representations like the numerous ones that we encounter in digital environments. Research has demonstrated that newly self-associated stimuli may indeed impact information processing, though maybe not as widely as familiar stimuli. This dissertation investigated the role of familiarity in the impact of self-representations. In each of the studies, a matching task was used in order to induce the association of neutral geometric shapes to the self and a stranger. Followingly, their attentional impact was comparatively measured in a dotprobe task as observed by a cuing effect and inhibition of return. Based on the types of stimuli used in prior literature, the first studies used word-labels as familiar representations and geometric shapes and new representations. In order to address this potential confound, a final study tested the attentional impact of self and stranger-representations when letter combinations were used as both familiar representations (word-labels) and new representations (nonwords). Overall, results demonstrated that new self-representations impacted performance in the matching task but attentional prioritization of self-representations (vs. stranger-representations) was only observed when familiar representations were used. It therefore seems that, although new stimuli may be tagged to the self, familiarity is a prerequisite for self-representations to capture attention. Hence, whether new self-representations become integrated into the self-concept and consequently impact information processing is rather dependent on its particular characteristics and interactions with it. However, it does not occur immediately. In sum, the evidence shows that self-association alone is insufficient to yield changes in the self-concept.

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