Psy 460/560: Self and Other

Winter 2003, Monday/Wednesday, 2-3:20

PLC 353

Dr. Sara Hodges

331 Straub Hall, 346-4919

Office hours: Weds 9:30 to 11:30

Course Description:

This advanced social psychology seminar will explore the concept of the self, with particular emphasis on the self in the context of other people in an individual's social world. Specific topics to be covered include social comparison, self biases (e.g., the better than average effect), projection, perspective taking, and self-other merging (i.e., instances when the boundaries between self and others become blurred or altered). Readings will be largely from primary sources (i.e., journal articles). They will be drawn primarily from the social psychology and social cognition literature, but links will be made to other subfields of psychology, such as developmental and clinical psychology. The class format will emphasize discussion, reaction and critique of the readings, and ideas for future research. Enrollment will be no larger than 25.

Course Aims:

This course will provide an overview of the social psychological study of self and other. Students should become familiar with recurrent issues and themes in the study of self and other and the empirical techniques and paradigms used to study the self and other. Students will be invited to hone their critical thinking skills in critiquing past studies, and they will be given the opportunity to identify creative and important new directions in the study of the self and other, either by proposing a new research project, or applying past empirical findings to the solution of a real world problem. The course is designed to be most valuable for undergraduates who are graduate school bound or current graduate students.


Participation: 40%

Final paper (includes turning in proposal and peer editing): 40%

Class presentation of final paper: 10%

Required article summaries: 10%

Participation (40%): This is a seminar. Your thoughtful contributions to the discussions are an essential part of the course content. I am aware that many of you might have never taken a seminar this size in Psychology, so I will do what I can to help you flourish in a class with this format.

In order to facilitate participation, you are required to electronically post responses to the reading (instructions will follow) for each class starting in the second week of class prior to class. You get two free "no response" classes (no penalty for your participation grade; please don't all use them in the last week of class!). Please bring a printout of your posting (or a draft version of it) with you to class; if discussion wanes, I will call on people to present their reactions to the readings. For those of you who are shy, I will consider the written versions of your comments in determining your participation grade, but ideal participation involves sharing your ideas in class, because it allows for dialogue. If participation is uneven, in order to facilitate participation by all class members, I may occasionally ask more vocal class members to hold back.

What kinds of responses to the readings am I looking for? Here are some possibilities:

a) Questions for future research - what is the next study that needs to be done, why, and how should it be conducted? (This might lead to a topic for your final paper; see below.)

b) Methodological and other criticisms - how could the study have been conducted better? Are the researchers justified in drawing the conclusions they do? Note that pointing out that they should have used subjects other college students is ok, but gets tiresome if that's the only criticism you have class after class. Expand your critical horizons!

c) Applications - now that the researchers have found what they found, assuming you think the results are valid, how can this information be used in the "real world"? (This might also lead to a final paper topic.) Can you give examples of the phenomena described in the papers? Can you suggest variables that may moderate these phenomena based on real life examples?

Attendance is required. If you must miss a class, speak to me prior to your absence, or as soon as possible after your absence. You are PROBABLY allowed to miss a class, MAYBE two without penalty, although perfect attendance will be looked upon highly favorably! Absences will affect your participation grade. You must have a working email account that you access regularly for this course.

Final Paper (40%) - Your final paper can take one of two formats: You can propose a new study (supported by a thorough literature review of related background research) or you can write an applied paper, using results of past studies to solve some world problem or improve some institution. In both cases, you are expected to show both your knowledge and integration of past research and your ability to go beyond this work by creating something novel (e.g. a new study or an application). I'm expecting papers to be in the 8-15 page range (that's text, not including references or title pages). Longer is fine as long as longer doesn't also mean rambling. APA style should be used for citations. Please cite things appropriately. If you directly quote, use quotation marks and provide the page number of the quotation in your citation. You should have an APA style reference section at the end of your paper.

You will turn in a one-page (or more) proposal describing what you plan to do for your paper in class on February 18. The more detailed your proposal, the better feedback I can give you. First drafts of papers are due to your peer editors on Monday, March 8 and final drafts are due to me on FRIDAY March 12 (not a day the class meets; please have the paper in my mailbox by 4 pm that day). As part of the peer-editing process, you will be responsible for reading two other students' papers and providing feedback on them prior to the due date.

New study option: The study you propose must be doable, in theory. However, you can assume you have access to a wide variety of resources (subject pools, computers, confederates, money). It must be clear how your variables are operationalized. Also, it should be clear, either from your introduction or from an additional "expected results" section what you expect to find. It's fine if you have rival hypotheses, but you must be clear about what various outcomes would mean for these hypotheses. You do not have to include all your materials for this paper, but if you are developing a new measure for your proposed study, you should include that. If you are currently a graduate student, or you are graduate school bound, think of this as a possible opportunity to generate a proposal for a study you really might actually do.

Applied paper: The problem you wish to solve or institution you wish to improve must be something that really needs fixing, making your attempts to fix it important. (Remember, your applied paper will be read in the context of other papers proposing new studies, and as an experimental social psychologist, new research ideas are always important and interesting to me!) Again, any solutions must be doable in theory, but you can assume that you have the resources and power that would be available to a hotshot, big-time "policy wonk" (e.g., you can't propose to "imprison all the narcissists" but you could propose a system-wide educational program to be introduced into elementary school curriculum).

Presentation (10%) - Each student will present the highlights of her/his paper to the class during the last few meetings of the class (including a class meeting during the prescheduled final exam period). The exact amount of time you have for your presentation will be determined when we know the final enrollment for the class. Your presentation should cover the highlights of your paper. The use of PowerPoint or overheads is encouraged. Non-presenting students will be asked to evaluate student presentations.

Article summaries (10%) - Each student will be asked to summarize two of the empirical articles and post it electronically for the rest of the class (instructions will follow) as a resource. These summaries are due before class begins.

Please note: IF this breakdown of points for evaluation fails to provide sufficient motivation for students to read and respond actively and thoughtfully to the readings, alternate measures (e.g., tests; assigning students to lead discussion) might be taken. (This is not a threat so much as it reflects my desire NOT to waste everyone's time sitting around in the seminar with nothing to say.)


Week 1

Mon Jan 5 Introduction to the seminar

Wed Jan 7 Starting at the very beginning - Development and evolution

Sedikides, C., & Skowronski, J. J. (2003). Evolution of the symbolic self: Issues and prospects. In M. R. Leary & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of self and identity (pp. 594-609). New York: Guilford Press.

Flavell, J. H. (2000). Development of children's knowledge about the mental world. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24, 15-23.

Week 2

Mon Jan 12 False consensus effect (this is probably the hardest day of reading)

Biernat, M., Manis, M., Kobrynowicz, D. (1997). Simultaneous assimilation and contrast effects in judgments of self and others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 254-269.

Clement, R. W., & Krueger, J. (2002). Social categorization moderates social projection. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 219-231.

Wed Jan 14 Other forms of projection

Hodges, S. D., Johnsen, A. T., & Scott, N. S. (2002). You're like me, no matter what you say. Psychologica Belgica, 42, 107-112.

Van Boven, L., & Loewenstein, G. (2003). Social projection of transient drive states. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1159-1168.

Week 3

Mon Jan 19 No class - Martin Luther King Holiday

Wed Jan 21 The self is better than others (but not always) (longish reading, but lively!)

Alicke, M. D., Klotz, M. L., Breitenbecher, D. L., Yurak, T. J., Verdenburg, D. S. (1995). Personal contact, individuation, and the better-than-average effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 804-825.

Kruger, J. (1999). Lake Wobegon be gone! The "below-average effect" and the egocentric nature of comparative ability judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 221-232.

Week 4

Mon Jan 26 The self is different from others

Hodges, S. D., Bruininks, P., & Ivy, L. (2002). It's different when I do it: Feature matching in self-other comparisons. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 40-53.

Knobe, J., & Malle, B. F. (2002). Self and other in the explanation of behavior: 30 years later. Psychologica Belgica, 42, 113-130

Wed Jan 28 No class - SPSP meeting

Week 5

Mon Feb 2 Gaps between self and other (yup, 3, but 2 are chapters & you got a day off!)

Barr, C. L., & Kleck, R. E. (1995). Self-other perception of the intensity of facial expressions of emotion: Do we know what we show? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 608-618.

Keysar, B., & Barr, D. J. (2002). Self-anchoring in conversation: Why language users do not do what they "should." In T.Gilovich, D. Griffin, & D. Kahneman (Eds) Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment (pp. 150-166). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Vorauer, J. D. (2001). The other side of the story: Transparency estimation in social interaction. In G. Moskowitz (Ed.), Cognitive social psychology: The Princeton Symposium on the legacy and future of social cognition (pp. 261-276). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Wed Feb 4 Self other merging I

Wegner, D. M., Erber, R., & Raymond, P. (1991). Transactive memory in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 923-929.

Davis, M. H., Conklin, L., Smith, A., & Luce, C. (1996). Effect of perspective taking on the cognitive representation of persons: A merging of self and other. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 713-726.

Week 6

Mon Feb 9 Self other merging II

Aron, A., Aron, E. N., Tudor, M., & Nelson, G. (1991). Close relationships as including other in the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 241-253.


Jack, D. C. (1999). Silencing the self: Inner dialogues and outer realities. In J. Thomas & J. C. Coyne (Eds.), The interactional nature of depression: Advances in interpersonal approaches (221-246). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Wed Feb 11 Shared experience

Hodges, S. D., Klein, K. J. K., Veach, D., & Villanueva, R. (2004). Giving birth to empathy: The effects of similar experience on empathic accuracy, empathic concern, and perceived empathy. Unpublished manuscript, University of Oregon.

Pistrang, N., Solomons, W., & Barker, C. (1999). Peer support for women with breast cancer: The role of empathy and self-disclosure. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 9, 217-229.

Week 7

Mon Feb 16 The presence of others

Hass, R. G. (1984). Perspective taking and self-awareness: Drawing an E on your forehead. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 788-798.

Baldwin, M. W. (2001). Relational schema activation: Does Bob Zajonc ever scowl at you from the back of your mind? In J. Bargh and D. K. Apsley (Eds.), Unraveling the complexities of social life: A festschrift in honor of Robert B. Zajonc (pp. 55-67). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Wed Feb 18 Imaginary others

***One page paper proposal due at beginning of class today!***

Taylor, M., Hodges, S. D., & Kohanyi, A. (in press). Fictional people with minds of their own: Characters created by adult novelists and imaginary companions created by children. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality.

Taylor, M. (1999). Why do children create imaginary companions? In Imaginary companions and the children who create them (pp. 62-85). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Week 8

Mon Feb 23 Imaginary selves and the internet

Turkle, S. (1995). Aspects of the self. In Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the Internet (pp. 177-209). New York: Simon and Schuster.

Other reading TBA

Wed Feb 25 Where in the brain are the self and other? (Another trio, but the Ickes reading is just to give you background and confidence for the others)

Decety, J. & Sommerville, J. A. (2003). Shared representations between self and other: A social cognitive neuroscience view. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 527-533.

Rizzolatti, G., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., & Gallese, V. (2002). From mirror neurons to imitation: Facts and speculations. In A. N. Meltzoff & W. Prinz (Eds.), The imitative mind: Development, evolution, and brain bases (pp. 247-266). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ickes, W. (2003). Everyday mind reading: Understanding what other people think and feel (pp 322-334). Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Week 9

Mon Mar 1 Self-other pathology - schizophrenia

Langdon, R., Davies, M., & Coltheart, M. (2002). Understanding minds and understanding communicated meanings in schizophrenia. Mind and Language, 17, 68-104.

Lysaker, P. H., & Lysaker, J. T. (2001). Psychosis and the disintegration of dialogical self-structure: Problems posed by schizophrenia for the maintenance of dialogue. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 72, 23-33.

Wed Mar 3 Self-other pathology - autism (or some other topic chosen by the class)

Readings TBA

Week 10

Mon Mar 8 Presentations

***Drafts of papers due for peer editing***

Wed Mar 10 Presentations

***Return peer edited papers***

***FRIDAY Mar 12 Final drafts of paper due by 4 pm to my mailbox.***

Finals Week

Mon Mar 15, 3:15-5:15 (scheduled final exam period) Presentations (there is no final)

How to read for this class:

It is very important that you always read the required reading. The readings will provide us with a common ground. There is no textbook, only the readings which come from a variety of sources. Some are book chapters, and others are journal articles. The chapters are often integrated reviews of a wide range of studies, and therefore are densely packed with a lot of information. Skimming them will not be sufficient.

You may find journal articles harder to read than other sources. Keep in mind that the authors are trying to tell you not only what they found and why it is important, but how they found it. It is the methods and results that often make journal articles difficult to read, but it is essential that you read and understand these sections. Recalling what you learned in stats and methods about writing these sections may help you to decode them. Remember, this is an upper level seminar in which advanced psychology students should be thinking not just about theories and findings of psychology, but also how psychology is done.

As you read a journal article, make sure you can answer these questions:

- What is the research question? What do the researchers hope to show?

- What are the theoretical independent and dependent variables? How did the researchers operationalize them? (How did they manipulate the independent variable? How did they measure the dependent variable?)

- What kinds of analyses did the researchers use? What form were their results? (Did they find a difference in means? Did they find different correlations? Did they find main effects? Interactions?

- What do the results mean, both at the level of the study and on a broader level? Try to restate the findings as a general statement.

- Was there anything wrong with the methods the researchers used? Are there logical flaws in their arguments? Can you think of an alternative explanation for their findings?

I will expect you to know the answers to these questions when we are discussing the articles.

It may be helpful to skip around while reading a journal article, BUT MAKE SURE YOU READ THE WHOLE THING. Try reading the abstract first, to give you some idea of what the article is about and where the authors are going. However, be prepared for there to be unfamiliar terms and/or concepts in the abstract. Don't get discouraged--these should be explained in the body of the paper. It may be helpful to read the intro and then peek at the discussion before tackling the methods and results. You may also find that you have to read some sections twice--knowledge you have gleaned from another part of the article may help you to make sense of something that was unclear at first.

For all of the readings (not just journal articles), think about reading as if you have to explain what you have read to someone else.