Cognitive Social Psychology: The Princeton Symposium on the Legacy and Future of Social Cognition

By Gordon B. Moskowitz | Go to book overview

explicit attitudes might have these properties precisely because they are in synch with implicit attitudes that have grown out of the very same experiences. Thus, in the case of self-evaluations that have grown out of a great deal of consistent and consensual validated social experience (e.g., Cal Ripken, Jr.'s self-evaluations on the dimension of durability), implicit and explicit self-evaluations might be closely related.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

In this chapter, we have reviewed a wide variety of evidence attesting to the potential importance of nonconscious elements of self-concept and self-evaluation. Moreover, we have provided preliminary evidence that implicit self-evaluations can be measured, that they exhibit surprising stability, and that they are systematically related to aspects of human behavior that are not predicted by explicit self-evaluations. If we assume that people do possess both implicit and explicit self-evaluations, this might raise the question of why these two separate systems of self-evaluation exist in the first place. Our suspicion is that implicit self-regard exists for the same reason that many other implicit belief systems exist. Like learning to comprehend and produce language, learning to engage in the myriad forms of self-regulation that are necessary for survival in a social world requires an enormous investment of time and energy. If these complex skills had to be acquired solely based on carefully considered reasoning, or if they never became automatized, many complex aspects of human social experience would be severely compromised. The more we can self-regulate without devoting cognitive resources to the effort, the more capacity we free up to deal with other pressing problems of survival. From this perspective, implicit self-regard may represent an important and highly adaptive piece of the puzzle of human adaptation to a complex social world.

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