Behavioral and Brain Sciences2013-09-05 2:57 AM

A Three-Tier Hierarchy of Self-Potency: Individual Self, Relational Self, Collective Self

Abstract The self-system consists of three fundamental components: the individual self, the relational self, and the collective self. All selves are important and meaningful and all are associated with psychological and physical health benefits. However, the selves are not equally important and meaningful. We propose a three-tier hierarchy of the motivational potency of the self-system, with the individual self on top, followed somewhat closely by the relational self, and followed distantly by the collective self. Engaging in competitive testing, we conducted a variety of experiments in which we implemented diverse methods for controlling the accessibility of the selves, introduced different forms of threat or enhancement, sampled several relational and collective selves, measured the independent reaction of each self, and assessed an array of responses to threat or enhancement (e.g., mood, anger, distancing, impact of feedback, derogation of feedback, impact on life, sentiments of “real you,” goals, monetary allocations). The findings were consistent with the three-tier hierarchy of motivational self-potency.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Behavioral and Brain Sciences is a peer-reviewed scientific journal of Open Peer Commentary established in 1978 by Stevan Harnad and published by Cambridge University Press. It is modeled on the journal Current Anthropology (which was established in 1959 by the University of Chicago anthropologist, Sol Tax).

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