Objective self-awareness and individuation: An empirical link1


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    . This research was facilitated by a grant to the first author from the Graduate School Research Committee of the University of Wisconsin—Madison. The authors would like to express their thanks to Carolyn Ledin, Pierre Nunez, Diane Ramthun, Lea Rondou, Scot Streeter, and Bruce Williams for their dedicated assistance in coding the data. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Robert Wicklund and the two reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Requests for reprints should be addressed to William Ickes, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.


An experiment was conducted to determine whether the phenomenal experiences associated with the states of objective and subjective self-awareness are those which typically are associated with the states of individuation and deindividuation. In order to test this hypothesis, 20 male and 20 female matched pairs of subjects completed 15 self-descriptive statements on a Who Am I questionnaire under conditions of experimentally manipulated self-awareness (high vs. low). The obtained responses were then coded on 21 dimensions of self-conception, including several suggested by Gordon (1968). Converging results from a number of different measures indicated that increased objective self-awareness led to a more individuated conception of self. More specifically, objective self-awareness appeared to increase responding on dimensions which reflect individuation but to decrease responding on dimensions which reflect deindividuation. The analysis of a more global measure of individuation suggested that this effect held strongly for low self-monitoring subjects. The self-descriptions of high self-monitoring subjects, however, appeared to be relatively unaffected by situationally induced self-awareness.