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Adolescents' sense of self has important implications for their mental health. Despite more than two decades of work, scholars have yet to amass evidence across studies to elucidate the role of selfhood in the mental health of adolescents. Underpinned by the conceptual model of selfhood, this meta-analytic review investigated the strength of associations of different facets of selfhood and their associated traits with depression and anxiety, moderating factors that attenuate or exacerbate these associations, and their causal influences. Using mixed-effects modeling, which included 558 effect sizes from 298 studies and 274 370 adolescents from 39 countries, our findings revealed that adolescents' self-esteem/self-concept [r = −0.518, p < 0.0001; (95% CI −0.49 to −0.547)] and self-compassion [r = −0.455, p < 0.0001; (95% CI −0.568 to −0.343)] demonstrating largest effect sizes in their associations with depression. Self-esteem/self-concept, self-compassion, self-awareness, self-efficacy, and self-regulation had similar moderate negative associations with anxiety. Meta-regressions revealed that adolescent age and type of informants (parents v. adolescents) were important moderators. Findings on causal influences indicated bidirectional causations, particularly low self-esteem/self-concept, self-awareness and self-efficacy drive higher depression and vice-versa. In contrast, the different self traits did not demonstrate specific causal direction with anxiety. These results pinpoint self traits that are pivotal in relating to adolescent mental health functioning. We discussed the theoretical implications of our findings in terms of how they advance theory of selfhood for adolescent mental health, and the practical implications of building selfhood as cultivating psychological skills for mental health.
Social psychology findings have fared poorly in multi-site replication attempts. This article considers and evaluates multiple factors that may contribute to such failures, other than the “crisis” assumption that most of the field’s published research is so badly flawed that it should be dismissed wholesale. Low engagement by participants may reduce replicability of some findings (while not affecting certain others). Incentives differ between original researchers and replicators. If multi-site replications are indeed biased toward failure, this may have a damaging effect on the field’s ability to build correct theories.
I came to psychology in a roundabout and accidental manner. I was a math whiz in high school and chose Princeton because their math department was rated best in the country. My resident advisor pushed me to take an assortment of very different courses, and soon I realized that my math course was the dullest. At Princeton I also met some true math geniuses and quickly realized I was not one of them. Those being the hippie days, I decided I would study the grand issues of religion and philosophy. I spent a year in foreign study at Universität Heidelberg studying philosophy. While there, I happened to read some of Freud’s writings on morality, which impressed me. Instead of analyzing the concepts of right and wrong, as a philosopher would, he relied on data, as to how morality emerged in early societies and how children learned right vs. wrong. Exciting!
Self-protection can have psychological and behavioral implications. We contrast them with the implications of a self-enhancement strategy. Both self-enhancement and self-protection have costs and benefits as survival strategies, and we identify some of the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral tradeoffs associated with the differential preferences for each strategy. New analyses on a large existing data set confirm the target article's hypothesis that women are more attuned than men to potential negative consequences of innovations.
Tomasello argues that humans’ sense of moral obligation emerges early in development, relies on a shared “we,” and serves as the foundation of cooperation. This perspective complements our theoretical view of the human self as information agent. The shared “we” promotes not only proximal cooperative goals but also distal ones via the construction of shared understanding – it promotes culture.
When an environment is uncertain, humans and other animals benefit from preparing for and attempting to predict potential outcomes. People respond to uncertainty both by conserving mental energy on tasks unrelated to the source of the uncertainty and by increasing their attentiveness to information related to the uncertainty. This mental hoarding and foraging allow people to prepare in uncertain situations.
Contrary to one assumption of CLASH, we suggest that colder rather than warm climates are the harsh, unpredictable ones, thus requiring greater self-control. We propose shifting emphasis from predictability to utility of prediction. Northern climates may be less predictable than tropical ones, making predictions and planning far more important, insofar as they can prevent fatalities and promote other pragmatic benefits.
Morsella et al. argue that science should not focus on high forms of consciousness. We disagree. An understanding of high forms of consciousness is invaluable to the scientific study of consciousness. Moreover, it poses challenges to the passive frame theory. Specifically, it challenges the notions that conscious thoughts are not connected and that consciousness serves skeletomotor conflict only.
The target article proposed that differentiation of selves is a crucial moderator of group outcomes, such that differentiation of selves contributes to beneficial outcomes of groups while limiting undesirable outcomes. In this response, we aim to complement the target article by refining and expanding several aspects of the theory. We address our conceptualization of optimal group functioning, clarify the term differentiation of selves, comment on the two-step nature of our model, offer theoretical connections and extensions, and discuss applications and opportunities for future research.
Gowdy & Krall's target article complements our recent theorizing on group behavior. In our comment, we elucidate complementary aspects of the two theories and highlight the importance of differentiation of selves for human groups to reap the benefits of ultrasociality. We propose that achieving optimal group outcomes depends on the differentiation of individual selves.
As Norenzayan et al. cogently argue, religions that proliferated most successfully did so because they facilitated prosociality and cooperation in large-scale, anonymous groups. One important way that religion promotes cooperation may be through improving self-control. In this comment, we cover some potential obstacles to implementing self-control and how religion can overcome them.
This commentary summarizes my struggle to overcome liberal bias without conservative input. I generally assume I am biased and constantly try to build a good-quality argument for the opposite view. Trying to dispense with one's liberal values can help, if one is willing. Frequent self-tests help. Liberal biases include race, gender, and poverty, but also dislike of business corporations and even Western civilization. Feminism is the single strongest and most powerful bias.
This paper seeks to make a theoretical and empirical case for the importance of differentiated identities for group function. Research on groups has found that groups sometimes perform better and other times perform worse than the sum of their individual members. Differentiation of selves is a crucial moderator. We propose a heuristic framework that divides formation of work or task groups into two steps. One step emphasizes shared common identity and promotes emotional bonds. In the other step, which we emphasize, group members take increasingly differentiated roles that improve performance through specialization, moral responsibility, and efficiency. Pathologies of groups (e.g., social loafing, depletion of shared resources/commons dilemmas, failure to pool information, groupthink) are linked to submerging the individual self in the group. These pathologies are decreased when selves are differentiated, such as by individual rewards, individual competition, accountability, responsibility, and public identification. Differentiating individual selves contributes to many of the best outcomes of groups, such as with social facilitation, wisdom-of-crowds effects, and division of labor. Anonymous confidentiality may hamper differentiation by allowing people to blend into the group (so that selfish or lazy efforts are not punished), but it may also facilitate differentiation by enabling people to think and judge without pressure to conform. Acquiring a unique role within the group can promote belongingness by making oneself irreplaceable.
The selfish goal, at some point in evolution, gave rise to a selfish self. In humans, this selfish self might exert influence over goals, deciding upon which to execute and which to inhibit. This, in fact, may be one of the chief functions of the self.
Psychologists debate whether consciousness or unconsciousness is most central to human behavior. Our goal, instead, is to figure out how they work together. Conscious processes are partly produced by unconscious processes, and much information processing occurs outside of awareness. Yet, consciousness has advantages that the unconscious does not. We discuss how consciousness causes behavior, drawing conclusions from large-scale literature reviews.
Van de Vliert's findings fit nicely with our recent arguments implying that (1) differentiated selfhood is partly motivated by requirements of cultural groups, and (2) free will mainly exists within culture. Some cultural groups promote individual freedom, whereas others constrict it so as to maintain elites' power and privilege. Thus, freedom is, to a great extent, a creation of culture.
Any evolved disposition for fairness and cooperation would not replace but merely compete with selfish and other antisocial impulses. Therefore, we propose that human cooperation and fairness depend on self-regulation. Evidence shows reductions in fairness and other prosocial tendencies when self-regulation fails.
Our recent work suggests that (1) the purpose of human conscious thought is participation in social and cultural groups, and (2) logical reasoning depends on conscious thought. These mesh well with the argument theory of reasoning. In broader context, the distinctively human traits are adaptations for culture and inner processes serve interpersonal functions.
Transcendence, defined as the capacity to perceive the immediate stimulus environment in relation to long-range or abstract concerns, is a key aspect of self-control, and indeed self-regulation often breaks down because attention becomes focused exclusively on the immediate stimuli (i.e., transcendence fails). Factors that restrict attention to the here and now will weaken self-control, whereas factors that promote transcendence will enhance it. Guilt may be one example of the latter.