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Everyday Psychology in Everyday English

The starting point of both lots of our fancies and scientific research into communication is when an individual steps into presence of others. After the sacred entrance he will somehow act and express himself and thus intentionally or unintentionally make a presentation. The individual may wish others to think highly of him, or to think that he thinks highly of them, or to understand how in fact he feels towards them, or to get no clear-cut impression. Sometimes the individual will act in an entirely calculating manner, expressing himself in a given way in order to give rise to a specific response. Sometimes the individual will be calculating in his activity but be relatively unaware that this is the case. Sometimes he will express himself in a particular way because the traditions of his group or the social status require this kind of expression. Yet regardless of the particular objective that the individual has in mind and his motive for having this objective he will not avoid a presentation.

The way people present themselves impacts others, which in its turn may impact the initial presentation. In experiments held at Stanford University a group of male subjects spoke over the telephone with unknown female respondents who in fact, but not to the knowledge of male subjects, were of medium and low physical attraction. The jury was to make different assessments seeing neither participants and only listening to their parts separately. In one of the series the male subjects were given photographs of highly attractive women to represent their telephone respondents. No small wonder men were more jovial and hyper talking to “them” as compared to their previous conversations with “somebody” they knew nothing about. It was the jury verdict that came for a wonder – having heard only the female part of the conversation the jury for the first time assessed their attraction as high. So the “chain reaction” rolled here from the counterfeit initial self-presentation to altered behavior of others and back to a new and improved genuine presentation of self.

This “chain reaction” gives an idea of self-fulfilling prediction. It shows how assurance of oneself, though started in our case by false photographs, may help a person to succeed. Nevertheless claims and their presentational manifestations should not be excessively high. Speaking generally an adequate self-presentation is based on an adequate concept of self (self-esteem), which should be positive but not inflated. Inflated concepts involve undertaking unfeasible tasks and thus take the individual to different kind of failures and conflicts with both himself and the outer world. Negative concepts of self induce depression and often cause aggression against oneself and the world. An adequate concept of self is commonly honed in the process of different interactions with the world or in other words in the process of life. It can be also an object of special group exercises.

Apart from significance of positive self esteem Stanford experiments once again proved the beauty-shop truism - human face as is an essential part of self-presentation tool kit. The list of other tools includes clothes, perfume, gadgets, surrounding, deliberately started rumors, etc.

BOTTOM LINE: self-presentation is unavoidable - whatever you do will be read and interpreted. Self-presentation is a delicate instrument that can modify behavior of others and alter your own self. Adequacy of self-presentation heavily depends on adequacy of self-esteem.

University graduates used to wear university rhombic badges in 50s and 60s. Now they don’t. How can you interpret this fact.////There are tombs in Moscow graveyards with epitaphs reading something like “doctor of economics, date of birth - date of death, name”- how would you comment on it?//// Describe a person with a low and inflated concept of self. ////What are the most common ways of self- presentation in Russia? Are there any gender, age and cultural differences in this respect? //// Can you give examples of self-presentation in other cultures? What cross-cultural problems may arise because of the differences in self-presentation?//// How can you tell an intentional self-presentation from an unintentional one? //// Can you give an example of a self-presentation required by a social status or a group tradition? Can you give an example of an effective self-presentation, of one missing the goal and of one having an inverse effect? ////There are people who try depreciate their image; they openly call themselves “a sick ticket”. How would you explain this “strategy”? //// How would you define your self-esteem? Illustrate your words with life stories.

Coming sessions of the workshop will cover lie-telling and lie-catching, dynamics of human communication (transactional analysis), mechanisms of psychological defense, NLP, psychological counseling, psychodrama.

The workshops are led by Leonid Notkin, Psy.D.

Consultant desk will work on Feb. 20 from 19:30 to 21:00 at the Moscow English Conversation Club at Chekhov Culture Center. A group of eleven participants for three February/March sessions will be tested, formed and prepaid.
Telephone for enquiries: 8-917-546-29-36
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