When Selves Collide

Mark R. Leary

in The Curse of the Self

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780195172423
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199786756 | DOI:
 When Selves Collide

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A great deal of unhappiness in friendships, romances, family relationships, and social life can be traced to how people construe themselves in their own minds. Once people form a social identity, they may relate to others in terms of that identity. After seeing themselves as members of a particular group, they automatically begin to perceive members of their own group differently than members of other groups, and these perceptions fuel hostility, prejudice, and aggression. Many social conflicts — whether among individuals, social groups, or nations — arise from the symbolic meaning of events for people's sense of self rather than from actual threats to people's well-being. In addition, people often fight with one another when others cast aspersions on their egos, never quite realizing that these interpersonal conflicts are about ego-threats rather than practical matters of any real significance. When people include others in their sense of self, they tend to be more accepting, trusting, and empathic.

Keywords: egoism; social identity; social conflict; prejudice; ego-threats; ego-defensiveness

Chapter.  9658 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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