The unconscious relational self Book Section

Authors: Andersen, S. M.; Reznik, I.; Glassman, N. S.; Bargh, J. A.
Editors: Hassin, R. R.; Uleman, J. S.; Bargh, J. A.
Article/Chapter Title: The unconscious relational self
Abstract: (from the chapter) The notion that previous knowledge is brought to bear in extracting and constructing meaning is fundamental in social cognition. This process can be understood in terms of mental representations of self and of others that give both idiosyncratic and shared meaning to experience. The relational self, or the self one experiences in relation to another person, thus reflects the personal as well as the interpersonal. We characterize the relational self as social-cognitive and draw on personality and clinical theory in making the assumption that significant others play a critical role in both self-definition and self-regulation (Andersen & Chen, 2002). According to our model, each individual has an overall repertoire of selves, each of which stems from a relationship with a significant other. The repertoire is a repository for, and later a source of, interpersonal patterns the individual experiences. In short, each relational self is tied to a mental representation of a significant other. When activated, the representation of this significant other and the aspects of the self linked to it end up imbuing current experiences with different meaning, depending on the content of the relationship and the context in which this is evoked. In our research, we assess idiosyncratic knowledge representations in memory and trace their influence in affect and motivation. We also examine how self-regulatory processes modulate people's responses. Our conceptualization focuses on the ways the self is linked to other people who are significant--who have had an impact on one's life and in whom one is emotionally invested. Mental representations of individual significant others and their relational linkages to the self are central in the model, and the assumption is that one's emotional investment in significant others is partly why they shape one's responses. The transference process is at the heart of our notion of the relational self. This social-cognitive model involves mental representations of significant others that operate in accord with basic processes of transient and chronic accessibility governing the operation of social constructs. Such processes require little attention or volition, which is the case for many cognitive processes, as well as many involving motivation, affect, and the self, as refinements of social-cognitive models suggest. Hence, the processes by which the relational self operates can be considered largely unconscious. Self-regulation is central in transference, in that activation of a significant-other representation has important self-regulatory consequences that may be triggered outside of awareness. The role of the unconscious in the relational self is thus quite clear, as is perhaps the promise of mindfulness and its cultivation through practice, if one acquires some openness to change and to the unexpected, and of course some discernment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Keywords: self concept; significant others; unconscious relational self; social cognition; relational self; self regulation
Book Title: The New Unconscious
ISBN: 9780195149951
Publisher: Oxford University Press  
Publication Place: Oxford, NY
Date Published: 2005-01-01
Start Page: 421
End Page: 481
Language: English
ACCESSION: Book: 2004-19542-017
PROVIDER: Ovid Technologies
PROVIDER: psycinfo
Notes: - Book Section 16 - Hassin, Ran R [Ed ; Uleman, James S [Ed ; Bargh, John A [Ed - xii, 592 - "Source: PsycINFO"