Possible Selves; Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius Pt. 1

January 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

Pg 954 – “Possible selves represent individuals’ ideas of what they might become, what they would like to become, and what they are afraid of becoming, and thus provide a conceptual link between cognition and motivation.”

~ Good definition of possible self.

Pg 954 – “Possible selves are important, first, because they function as incentives for future behavior (i.e., they are selves to be approached or avoided) and second, because they provide an evaluative and interpretive context for the current view of self.”

~ Possible selves give us something to judge our current selves off of and something to look forward to in the future.

Pg 954 – “Possible selves are the ideal selves that we would very much like to become. They are also the selves we could become, and the selves we are afraid of becoming.”

~ Interesting to think of them as the ideal selves. Although I do like that they are ideal, possible, and feared. This might play into the threatened idea of the self. Possible selves make us feel threatened by realizing that our current self could change (negatively or positively).

Pg 954 – “Possible selves derive from representation of the self in the past and they include representations of the self in the future. They are different and separable from the current or now selves, yet are intimately connected to them.”

~ Cannot separate possible self from current self because they are viewed of together. We are what we currently are because we are not what could be possible.

Pg 954 – “Possible future selves, for example, are not just any set of imagined roles or states of being. Instead they represent specific, individually significant hopes, fears, and fantasies.”

~ So the limits are only what you can imagine yourself possibly being.

Pg 954 – “These possible selves are individualized or personalized, but they are also distinctly social. Many of these possible selves are the direct result of previous social comparisons in which the individual’s own thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and behaviors have been contrasted to those of salient others. What others are now I could become.”

~ Social identities are also possible identities, perhaps even more so than personal identities. Since social identities are formed through meeting others which creates more possibility to make possible selves, whereas personal identities are only formed by what you interact with (minus social interaction).

Pg 954 – “An individual is free to create any variety of possible selves, yet the pool of possible selves derives from the categories made salient by the individual’s particular sociocultural and historical context and from the models, images, and symbols provided by the media and by the individual’s immediate social experiences. Possible selves thus have the potential to reveal the inventive and constructive nature of the self but they also reflect the extent to which the self is socially determined and constrained (cf. Elder, 1980; Meyer, 1985; Stryker, 1984).”

~ So possible selves can help determine constraints of society. The limits of the possible selves can be traced back to the original cultures that one is born into.

Pg 955 – “Past selves, to the extent that they may define an individual again in the future, can also be possible selves.”

~ Interesting that the past can become the future.

Pg 955 – “Development can be seen as a process of acquiring and then achieving or resisting certain possible selves. Through the selection and connection of possible selves individuals can be viewed as active producers of their own development (e.g. Kendall, Lerner, & Craighead, 1984; Lerner, 1982).”

~ Development along the possible self continuum. But, not really the kind of development I want to refer to. They speak of identity development. I speak of overall global self development through the interplay of various identities.

Pg 955 – “…The self-concept is viewed as a system of affective-cognitive structures (also called theories or schemas) about the self that lends structure and coherence in the individual’s self-relevant experiences (For a full discussion of these and related ideas, see Epstein, 1973; Greenwald & Pratkanis, 1984; Kihlstrom & Cantor, 1984; Markus & Sentis, 1982; Markus & Wurf, in press; Rogers, 1981).”

~ So the self-concept is how one makes sense of their environment (this is stated somewhere else, too).

Pg 955 – “Self-schemas are constructed creatively and selectively from an individual’s past experiences in a particular domain. They reflect personal concerns of enduring salience and investment, and they have been shown to have a systematic and pervasive influence on how information about the self is processed. In particular domains, these self-elaborated structures of the self shape the perceiver’s expectations.”

~ Self-schemas lend help to making sense of the world, too. Especially in terms of how one interprets their environment (works with the self-concept).

Pg 955 – “Moreover, they determine which stimuli are selected for attention, which stimuli are remembered, and what type of inferences are drawn (e.g., Greenwald & Pratkanis, 1984; Kihlstrom & Cantor, 1984; Markus, 1983; Markus & Sentis, 1982).”

~ This is how self-schemas and the self-concept help.

Pg 955 – “In this way, the self-concept becomes a significant regulator of the individual’s behavior.”

~ Important to know that the self-concept regulates actions of a person so they fit into their own identity construction.

Pg 955 – “But individuals also have ideas about themselves that are not as well anchored in social reality. They have ideas, beliefs, and images about their potential and about their goals, hopes, fear. This is particularly so in those domains that are important for self-definition.”

~ This is what forms possible selves.


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Globalization and religious nationalism: Self, identity, and the search for ontological security; Catarina Kinnvall Possible Selves; Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius Pt. 2

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