Why do we care so much?

Introduction. People generally search for positive feedback pertaining to the self, in order to maintain a positive self-image. People also generally do not seek external feedback that accurately reflects their self-image, but rather a fair looking glass that displays positive images of the self, which serve to protect their personal self-esteem. (Brehm, Cassin, & Fein, 5th ed. 1998) Definition. Along these lines, Tesser’s self-evaluation maintenance model states that the performance of others in our social environments can affect our self-evaluations, (Taylor & Brown, 1988).

When a person we are close to performs well on a task, what will determine whether we will react positively or negatively to that behavior? Factors. There are three (3) influential factors that lead to having positive or negative thoughts on others successes when dealing with the self. They are crucial in understanding the idea of self-esteem maintenance. The factors are Performance, Closeness, and Importance. Performance is the most straight forward, and states that one will make decisions about their feelings towards others, based on how well that person performed on the same task that another has already completed. lecture 2/13/03) This is made by a measurement of some sort. In this case, Satoka got a higher grade then Steve and Sarah on the exam.

This caused Steve to show feelings of jealousy towards Satoka, however Sarah, having gotten the same grade as Steve, was indifferent due to other factors. Closeness is a little trickier to deal with. It has to do with the relationship between the two people in question. If they are closely related, one would begin to hypothesize that they would be happy for each other’s successes. That is not what the data suggests. Steve, Satoka and Sarah, in the given problem, are all very close friends.

The data suggests that this close bond will cause some tension and perhaps establish competition that could lead to envy and discomfort toward Satoka. (lecture 1/13/03) The last of the three factors is Importance. This is a crucial factor because, if the task in question is not that important to one’s self-concept or maintenance of high self esteem, then the individual simply won’t care enough to let it have any affect on him/herself. (lecture 1/13/03) Steve and Satoka in this example, are both aspiring psychology majors, which is the item that makes this factor so significant, and makes this exam score so important to their self concept.

They have established some kind of subconscious competition. Knowing that Satoka has done better then him on the exam, could cause Steve to feel threatened. Satoka might now be a better candidate to be a psych. Major because of his superior performance on the exam. This exam however is not of crucial importance to Sarah’s concept of the self, because she is not in a field relating to psychology. Thus, she has an apposite reaction to the exam score, and Satoka, Processes.

Based on the prior description of the factors, and how they relate to Steve and Sarah’s reaction in this situation, one can further infer processes to account for their reactions.. The first process is called comparison. The comparison process states that if another person who is close to you, on a task that is of importance to you, out performs you, you will show resentment, or feel badly. (lecture 1/13/03) The second process is Reflection. As it’s name suggests, this is when you reflect on someone else’s success, and you feel good about yourself, because they performed well.

This is the process that Sarah is exemplifying. Recovery. There are three things that Steve can do, (one in relation with each of the factors) in order to relieve himself of this burden of negative feelings towards Satoka. (lecture 1/13/03) The first is that he can change his performance on the task, (do better on the exam) and that will lead to a better feeling when comparing with Satoka’s high score. Another thing he can do is change how close he is with Sataoka, meaning, he would distance himself in the friendship to help save positive self-esteem.

Lastly, he could change the amount of emphasis or importance that he places on the exam. One solution would be to change majors. (lecture 1/13/03) Conclusion. The idea of self-concept maintenance is one that the average person deals with in a typical day during the course of his/her interaction with friends and strangers. If the population is all more aware of why we feel the way we do about certain things, it might be possible to prevent a lot of the negative hostility that is harbored for one another in certain situations, especially jealousy among friends.

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