The Self Explained : Why and How We Become Who We Are book cover
1st Edition

The Self Explained
Why and How We Become Who We Are

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ISBN 9781462549283
Published May 10, 2022 by Guilford Press
420 Pages

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Book Description

The idea of the self is immediately familiar to everyone, yet elusive to define and understand. From pioneering researcher Roy F. Baumeister, this volume synthesizes a vast body of knowledge to provide a panoramic view of the human self--how it develops and functions, why it exists, and what problems it encounters on the journey through life. What are the benefits of self-knowledge, and how attainable is it? Do we have one self, or many? What is the relationship of self and society? In 28 concise chapters, Baumeister explains complex concepts with clarity and insight. He reveals the central role played by the self in enabling both individuals and cultures to thrive.

Table of Contents

I. The Remarkable Human Self
1. What Is the Self?
2. The Self in Social Context
3. How the Modern Western Self Took Shape
4. Different Societies Make Different Kinds of Selves
5. Four Pitfalls of Self Theories: No Self, Multiple Selves, Authentic True Selves, and Self-Actualization
II. Why Do We Have Selves?
6. Some Beginnings of Self
7. How Baby Grows Up to Have a Working Self
8. Human Groups Need (and Shape) Selves
9. Moral Reputation as a Foundation of Self
10. The Unity Project: The Unfinished Business of Stitching the Self Together
III. Know Thyself
11. Self-Awareness
12. What Sort of Knowledge Is Self-Knowledge?
13. Why Know Thyself?
14. Building Self-Knowledge: How People Learn about Themselves
15. Self-Esteem
16. Accuracy and Illusion in Self-Beliefs
IV. The Self as Active Agent
17. The Self in Action
18. Self-Regulation and Self-Control
19. Decision Making, Autonomy, and Free Will
V. The Self in Relation to Others
20. The Interpersonal Self
21. The Self as Group Member
22. Self-Presentation
23. Self as Close Relationship Partner
VI. Problems of Self
24. Problems of the Modern Self
25. The Stress of Self, and Some Escape Routes
26. Selves and Mental Illness
27. The Deep Puzzle of Self-Defeating Behavior
28. Ways the Mind Can Organize Self-Beliefs
Epilogue. The Self: A Summary

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Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Florida State University and at the University of Queensland in Australia. One of social psychology's most highly cited researchers, Dr. Baumeister has been conducting research, teaching, and thinking about the human self since the 1970s. His work spans multiple topics, including self and identity, self-control, interpersonal rejection and the need to belong, sexuality and gender, violence and evil, self-esteem, self-presentation, emotion, decision making, consciousness and free will, and finding meaning in life. He has written approximately 700 professional publications as well as numerous books for professionals and the general public. Dr. Baumeister is a recipient of awards including the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Self and Identity and the William James Fellow Award, the highest honor of the Association for Psychological Science.


“Not since William James has anyone contributed more to the study of the self than Roy Baumeister. Trenchant and insightful, this book integrates an enormously broad and interdisciplinary literature to offer a novel take on what makes us who we are. As Baumeister convincingly shows, it is our social and cultural nature that has given us a self, and this guides what our selves are ultimately for.”--Steven J. Heine, PhD, Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Social and Cultural Psychology, University of British Columbia, Canada

“Before Baumeister’s analysis of the self, I found myself telling my students that whenever you see 'self followed by a hyphen' (e.g., self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-control), hold on to your wallet. Baumeister’s brilliant book shows us how the self only makes sense as a product of the culture it lives in, how it changes over epochs, how difficult it is to 'know thyself,' and, most important, the indispensable reality of the self.”--Martin E. P. Seligman, PhD, Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology, Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania

"Baumeister is the world’s leading expert on the self. He provides a new model of the self and offers a staggering amount of evidence that supports this framework. This book is unique in its breadth and depth. It touches on human development, culture, motivation, interpersonal relationships, psychopathology, decision making, self-esteem, stress and coping, and personality. This masterful, comprehensive volume will guide the future scientific study of the self, and will be wonderful for use in undergraduate or graduate seminars."--C. Nathan DeWall, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky-