The Experience of Self-Awareness and its Relation to Level of Self-Consciousness: An Experiential Sampling Study

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Journal of Research in Personality

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The present research studied self-awareness by utilizing experiential sampling methodology, which allows for the random sampling of individuals' thoughts and feelings as they go about their normal daily activities. Neither Study 1 nor 2 found a relation between private or public self-awareness and negative affect. However, attention to private self-aspects was generally more positive and less ruminative for low as opposed to high private self-conscious subjects, and awareness of oneself as a social object was generally more positive but less important for low as opposed to high public self-conscious subjects. What may have accounted for the negative relation between private self-consciousness and average affect was that low private self-conscious subjects were more likely to attend to their private self-aspects if they were pleasant than if they were unpleasant, while high private self-conscious subjects' degree of private self-awareness was unrelated to whether the content of this state was pleasant or not. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that low private self-conscious individuals engage in a more selective type of self-attention when in the private self-aware state than do high private self-conscious individuals. Regarding the relation between self-awareness and social context, both studies found that the presence of others results in a heightened public self-awareness. However, even though subjects were more attentive to public self-aspects when with others than when alone, in general, they were more attentive to their “private self” than to their “public self”. Results are discussed in terms of current self-awareness theory.


Journal of Research in Personality, Vol. 18, No. 4 (December 1984): 522-540. DOI.