Self-Attention, Concept Activation, and the Causal Self
Two experiments examined the relationship between the accessibility of selfreferent information and attributions of causal responsibility to the self. The first study introduced a priming technique, in which subjects used either first-person or third-person terms in a story construction task, to directly access self-referent or other-referent thought. It was found that self-attributions for hypothetical outcomes were greater for those subjects whose earlier stories were focused on the self. The second study, rather than activate self-referent cognition in a general fashion, sought to explicitly prime the notion of a “causal self.” In addition to self-referent or other-referent words, subjects were also given words that evoked notions of either causality or noncausality to be incorporated into their stories. Contingent activation of both “self” and “causal” notions subsequently resulted in greater self-attributions than any other experimental condition. Recall and recognition data from Experiment 2 were generally consistent with the contention that a specific and differentiated component of the self-schema had been accessed. The results of both studies, as well as the novel “self-priming” technique, are discussed in terms of self-awareness theory.
Fenigstein, Allan and Levine, Michael P., "Self-Attention, Concept Activation, and the Causal Self" (1984). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 20(3): 231-245. Faculty Publications. Paper 38.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology