University Of Tasmania

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Negative and normal self-schemata : content differences and processing influence

posted on 2023-05-26, 18:38 authored by Miller, Robyn
Social cognition suggests that self-schemata (cognitive structures of self-knowledge) guide the processing of personal information and facilitate recognition of self relevant evidence. Likewise, negative self-schemata are thought to bias recognition toward negative personal information in cognitive depression and performance anxiety. Research aims were to specify how negative and normal self-schemata differ, and to examine self-schema processing influence. Self-schemata constitute an active, conceptually-driven process which enhances the discriminability of favoured evidence. Bias can also arise from a passive, stimulusdriven process due to lower recognition thresholds for favoured evidence. A yes/no decision task was used for investigating schemata by determining sensitivity and response latency for personal descriptor content. Experiments 1 to 3 compared negative and normal schematics. Descriptors varied in pleasantness and relevance to personal competence. Self-ratings showed that negative schematics had superior discrimination for competence whereas normal schematics had superior discrimination for pleasantness. Negative self-percept reflected incompetence, not unpleasantness. Normal characterization reflected marked self-enhancement. Role-reversal ratings maintained the sensitivity differences observed for self-ratings. Response latencies consistently indicated effects resulting from stimulus driven processes and not schema-driven influence. Experiments 4 and 5 compared subjects with or without a self-schema for a normal personality dimension. Self-rating discrimination of test descriptors was greater for schematics yet this superiority vanished for vignette-rating which dissociated self-schema influence from discriminative ability. Response latencies largely indicated effects resulting from stimulus-driven processes but a slight residue of schema-driven influence was also obtained for self-judgements. Experiment 6 used a word naming task and presented variously degraded personal and impersonal descriptors. Schema-relevant items were named more rapidly and accurately than impersonal and schema-irrelevant items. Schema-driven processing was the more probable source of the effect. Choice decision latency data were reanalysed to determine how a word relevance bias related to a word frequency bias. A cross-over interaction resulted for self-rating schematic subjects whereby the normal frequency effect reversed for self-irrelevant words. Despite considering various processing models, this outcome defied explanation. Reversal of the frequency effect occurs in recognition memory performance and similar processes were possibly implicated in self-rating. Major findings were firstly that competence information has more salience for negative schematics. Secondly, judgement latencies show little schema-driven influence. Finally, a self-relevance bias probably results from schema-driven processing in which case, processing of relevant evidence is highly accurate.


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Copyright 1986 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1987. Bibliography: leaves 223-230

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