You are on page 1of 7

Student ID : 025575

Development, Maintenance and Removal of Self-Schemas.

Schemas are the classification of our mental that contains


information about human beings, a situation or a concept. It affects a
persons interpretation and ways they attend to it (Plotnik &
Kouyoumdjian,2008). It is a cognitive structure that represents knowledge
about a concept or type of stimulus, including its attributes and the
relations among those attributes (Fiske & Taylor,1991, p.98). It consists
of mutual cognitions that help to ease the process of making sense of a
person, occasion, condition or situation by depending on the available
knowledge. A different stimulus triggers a different type of schema
(Vaughan, G., & Hogg, M. A.,2005). Schemas plays a major role in our self
as it influences the human perception, bias and social behaviour and has
the potential to distort the brains thoughts. There are various types of
schemas which are used for different situation and occasion. Person
schema is applied in our judgements regarding the traits that the self or
another person has. Role-schemas are used when the person is in a
particular job or a social position. When someone is in a specific event or
occasion, Event-schemas are activated which contains behaviour that is
associated with a specific activities or events. Self-Schemas, on the other
hand, is a specific schema that plays a role on ones self. Knowledge and
information about ourselves which impacts, changes, and disrupts
perception, memory and behaviour are what self-schemas consist of
(Plotnik & Kouyoumdjian,2008). In certain places, people reflect the view
of their own self-based on their relationships with the people they

Student ID : 025575

associate with whereas, in other places, it is associated with their personal


achievements. The distinct beliefs which refer to self-schemas are the
parts that build a persons identity (Myers, 2010). There are a few theories
that support different ways on how a self-schema is developed. According
to Markus (1977), past experiences shapes the self-schema of a person.
The things that have occurred in the past acts as a base foundation for the
development of certain schemas. It is also believed that self-schemas are
developed through the amount of time a person reflects about their own
selves (Nasby,1985). The more a person thinks of their present self and
future self, the more likely they are to develop a complex self-schema
(Markus & Nurius,1986). This essay is going to discuss on how the selfschemas developed and the question whether it is maintained throughout
a persons course of life or does it change constantly depending on the
situation it is in.
Markus (1977) states that the past plays a major role in the
development of self-schemata. It is built upon the information that was
processed in the past which affects the input and output of the
information regarding ones own self (Markus,1977). The self is not fixated
but rather is a self-concept which is built from a persons social
experiences (Higgins et al,1982). The patterns of social behaviour that
have been observed continuously through the progress of their life
becomes a template that is able to infer from a scarce information and
interpret a sophisticated situation. (Markus,1977)

Student ID : 025575

A repetition of a behaviour by a person could also generate selfschemas that are used by the person to further improve their own
judgement and understanding which then becomes the basis for the
future self (Markus,1977). When a person encounters more instances, the
schemas becomes more conceptual and are not rigid to only a specific
instance (Park, 1986). The schema gets more complex and widens as it
obtains more experience from the instances (Linville,1982). A highly
complex schema becomes organised as the links between schematic
elements get more complicated (McKiethen, Reitman, Rueter & Hirtle ,
1981). The schema gets extremely organised and becomes a composed
schema which represents a unit of mental construct that activates
everything if it is triggered (Schul,1983). At this point, the schema
becomes much more flexible and accepting of differences to preserve the
validity of the schema (Fiske & Neuberd,1990). A schema that has been
established, acts as a selective mechanisms that decide if an information
should be attended to, the composition of the information, relevancy of it
and the procedure after the information is processed. When a person
undergoes a repetitive experience that stimulates the same type of
schema, that particular schema becomes rigid and is able to resist
contradiction and inconsistency in information. Even though it has
resistance towards inconsistency, it is still vulnerable to it (Markus,1977).
The differences in self-schemata in everyone should be easily
identified due to the fact that every individual differs in past experience. A
few empirical referents can be utilised to present the logic behind the
concept of self-schemata to support the argument that self-schemas are

Student ID : 025575

derived mainly from past experiences. Firstly, an individual that has


developed self-schemas are capable of processing information quickly if it
is regarding the self in a specific area of interest. Secondly, the person can
recall behavioural evidence from the specified area. Thirdly, the future
behaviour of the self in the domain can be predicted. Lastly, they can
oppose counter schematic information about themselves. A person that
had only minor experience in a specified area of social behaviour or has
not given any attention to the behaviour will not have a definite selfschema (Markus, 1977)
A study was done by Markus (1977) in which the participants had to
undergo different cognition task. One of the tasks is where the
participants are given a booklet which contains random adjectives and is
told to circle the ones that best describe themselves. They had to
elaborate and provide with behavioural evidence to support the adjectives
chosen. The hypothesis for this specific task is that the amount of
behavioural evidence that is provided and the time it takes to generate
instances by the participants is due to their past experience. The result of
this study is shows that the subjects had written the evidence with ease
and with precise example for each adjective that they had circled if the
adjectives are related to their past experience whereas the participants
that were Aschematics, had only written lesser evidence and fewer details
due to not having much experience in the particular dimension. It is
shown based on the results that individuals that are lacking in schemas of
a specific dimension had a hard time providing behavioural evidence.
(Markus,1977)

Student ID : 025575

The complexity and the improbable of the social world pressure the
schemas to maintain because schemas tend to be rigid in terms of
structure and order (Crocker, Fiske & Taylor, 1984). Anything that
disconfirms and threatens a schema validity is usually ignored or
reinterpreted. A research by Ross, Lepper and Hubbard (1975) where a
group of participants were told to analyse a couple of suicide notes and
guess which was genuine. The participants were differently told on how
many times they had gotten it right which is 10, 17 and 24 out of 25
times. After that, the experimenter told the participants that they were
lied to and requested the participant to estimate again. The people who
had been told the higher numbers remains the same and resumes to
guess high (Ross, Lepper and Hubbard,1975) Thoughts also has the ability
to maintain schemas because people frequently thinks about schemas
which stimulate the schema-consistent evidence cognitive process (Millar
& Tesser, 1986). Schemas are also maintained by depending heavily on
the prior judgments. When a list of judgement is created from the same
individual, the later judgments are made from the earlier impression of
that particular person and not the trait information. The main component
of the schema is then lost and are no longer analysed. (Schul & Burnstein,
1985)
In certain cases, a schema can undergo schema-change due to the
schema having too much error and inaccuracy. Rothbart (1981) proposed
three different kind of process which leads to a schema change. The
bookkeeping model (Rothbart, 1981) is an incremental alteration of
each disconfirming information. The bits of disconfirming information only

Student ID : 025575

exerts a small change in the schema and primal changes occur step-bystep. The second model is the conversion model (Rothbart,1981). It is an
unexpected extreme change to schema due to the accumulation of
disconfirming information that gradually increases. The last model is
subtyping model (Brewer, Dull, & Lui, 1981; Taylor, 1981) which
proposes schema changes due to the formation of subtypes caused by the
schema-inconsistent information. The schema branches out and change
from a generic category to more rigid subcategories.
To sum it all up, self-schemas plays an important role in the growth
of a human being as it affects the way a person thinks of themselves. It
evolves as a person goes through life as it is developed from the past
social experience and behaviour. Self-schemas are often maintained
throughout a persons whole life unless there is a radical schemainconsistent information that disrupts the schema balance.
References
Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. Essential social psychology. London: Sage
Publications; 2012.
Cherry, K. (2016, July 27). What Is Self-Schema. Retrieved November 11,
2016, from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-a-self-schema-2795026
DeLamater, J., & Myers, D. Social psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Cengage Learning; 2011.
Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social cognition, 2nd. NY: McGraw-Hill,
16-15.
Markus, H. (1977). Self-schemata and processing information about the
self. Journal of personality and social psychology, 35(2), 63.
Meacham, W. (2013, January 25). Discovering The Self Concept. What is a
Self-Schema and How We Define Self-Concept in Social Psychology.
Retrieved November 11, 2016, from
https://hubpages.com/education/The-Self-Concept-in-Social-Psychology

Student ID : 025575

Onorato, R. S., & Turner, J. C. (2004). Fluidity in the selfconcept: the shift
from personal to social identity. European Journal of Social
Psychology, 34(3), 257-278.
Plotnik, Rod, and Haig Kouyoumdjian. Introduction to psychology. Cengage
Learning, 2013.
Ross, L., Lepper, M. R. and Hubbard, M. (1975) Perseverance in selfperception and social perception: Biased attributional processes in the
debriefing paradigm, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32,
880-892
Ross, L., Lepper, M. R., & Hubbard, M. (1975). Perseverance in selfperception and social perception: biased attributional processes in the
debriefing paradigm. Journal of personality and social psychology, 32(5),
880.
Vaughan, G., & Hogg, M. A. (2005). Introduction to social psychology.
Pearson Education Australia