Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Self-conservation is a defense mechanism. When persons employ mechanisms like projection and principalization, they are obviously intent on protecting psychological territory integral to what is usually defined as the "self". Many complex strategies are employed to maintain a preferred self, somewhat irrespective of whether that self-definition matches customary "reality" criteria.

Greenwalf (1980) pictured most dramatically the extent to which individuals manipulate and distort information to bolster their self-concepts. He indicated that persons are engaged in a constant process of revising history so that it will be congruent with preferred notions of the self. 

Reframing performance strategy: To dismiss failure by "inappropriate" justification of what has been done.

Transformed responsibility strategy: Calls for acknowledging failure but minimizing responsibility for it (e.g. due to temporary or "not really like me" mistakes).

M. W. Martin (1985) noted that a favourite form of self-excusing revolves around drinking alcohol, which permits rationalization of failure by attribution to one's intoxicated state. 

Albert Camus: Each of us insists on being innocent at all cost, even if he has to accuse the whole human race and heaven itself.

Swann and Read (1981): "In the course of their social relationships, there is a systematic tendency for people to solicit feedback that verifies and confirms their self-conceptions."

Continued: "During their social encounters, individuals may actively bring their interaction partners' interactions evaluations into harmony with their self-conceptions. To wit, the man who conceives himself to be intimidating may sustain this conception by behaving in ways that induce others to grovel in his presence; the woman who views herself as unlovable may validate this conception by acting in ways that foster rejection by her would-be lovers."

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