Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Knowing Me, Myself And I: What Psychology Can Contribute To Self-knowledge

Date:
September 8, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
How well do you know yourself? It's a question many of us struggle with, as we try to figure out how close we are to who we actually want to be. A new report in Perspectives on Psychological Science describes theories behind self-knowledge (that is, how people form beliefs about themselves), cites challenges psychologists encounter while studying it, and offers ways we can get to know ourselves a little better.

How well do you know yourself? It's a question many of us struggle with, as we try to figure out how close we are to who we actually want to be.
Credit: iStockphoto

How well do you know yourself? It's a question many of us struggle with, as we try to figure out how close we are to who we actually want to be. In a new report in Perspectives on Psychological Science, psychologist Timothy D. Wilson from the University of Virginia describes theories behind self-knowledge (that is, how people form beliefs about themselves), cites challenges psychologists encounter while studying it, and offers ways we can get to know ourselves a little better.

Related Articles


The study of self-knowledge has tended to focus on how accurate we are at determining our own internal states, such as our emotions, personality, and attitudes. However, Wilson notes that self-knowledge can be broadened to include memory, like recalling how we felt in the past, and prospection, predicting how we will feel in the future. Knowing who we were and who we will be are as important to self-knowledge as knowing who we are in the present. And while a number of researchers are conducting studies that are applicable to those various facets of self-knowledge, Wilson observes that there is not much communication between them, one reason this field is challenging to investigate.

Although it can be fairly simple to assess how people's attitudes change over time--that is, have them predict how they will feel at certain time and then actually measure their feelings at that time-- it is more difficult to measure people's current self-knowledge accurately. Some methods of acquiring accurate information on a person's feelings or their personality are to compare reports from their peers and study their nonverbal behavior. However, Wilson has "great faith in the methodological creativity" of his "fellow social psychologists" and is confident that questions raised by these types of experiments will be answered in the next few years.

Although Wilson acknowledges all the interesting findings that have come out of new technologies, such as fMRI, he cautions that those type of studies may not be very relevant to studying issues associated with self-knowledge.

There are a number of theories that aim to describe self-knowledge by a dual-process model, pitting the unconscious against the conscious. Wilson notes that these theories are pessimistic in that they view the unconscious as something that cannot be breached. However, he remarks that "self-knowledge is less a matter of careful introspection than of becoming an excellent observer of oneself."

Wilson suggests some ways that can help us learn more about ourselves, such as really attempting to be objective when considering our behaviors and trying to see ourselves through the eyes of other people. Another way of knowing ourselves better is to become more aware of findings from psychological science. Wilson concludes, "Most of us pay attention to medical findings that inform us about our bodies (e.g., that smoking tobacco is harmful), and can learn about our psychological selves in the same way."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Know Thyself. Perspectives on Psychological Science, (in press)

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Knowing Me, Myself And I: What Psychology Can Contribute To Self-knowledge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090716113258.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, September 8). Knowing Me, Myself And I: What Psychology Can Contribute To Self-knowledge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090716113258.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Knowing Me, Myself And I: What Psychology Can Contribute To Self-knowledge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090716113258.htm (accessed April 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins