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The Curse of the SelfSelf-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life$
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Mark R. Leary

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195172423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195172423.001.0001

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When Selves Collide

When Selves Collide

Chapter:
(p.101) 5 When Selves Collide
Source:
The Curse of the Self
Author(s):

Mark R. Leary

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195172423.003.0005

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

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