Self-Perception

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  • The theory that humans learn about themselves by inference, taking note of their attitudes, behaviors, emotions, and various internal states as they would observe those of other people. The theory was first advanced in the 1960s by the social psychologist Daryl J. Bern (also known by the surname Bem) as what he defined as “an alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena.”

    The individual who observes himself or herself, Bem wrote in 1970, uses a self-selection rule: “What must my attitude be if I am willing to behave in this fashion in this situation?”

    Though Bern viewed self-perception as key to an individual's self-knowledge, he and researchers who continue to study his paradigm caution that self-perceptions are not always rooted in reality but in the unconscious mind. Timothy ...

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