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James W. Pennebaker, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

"Self-serving Cognition: Motivations and Mechanisms"

Mon, October 29, 2012 • 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM • SEA 3.250

Monday, October 29 at 3pm in SEA 3.250  

Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Beer (UT)

Title: "Self-serving Cognition: Motivations and Mechanisms"

Abstract: One of the most striking features of social evaluation is that it
often tends to be predictably flawed in a self-serving manner, at
least when it comes to the self and people we care about. Scientists
currently debate (a) the extent to which self-serving social
comparisons reflect active concerns about self-esteem maintenance and
(b) whether self-esteem maintenance concerns modulate the mechanisms
(e.g., evaluation strategy, cognitive effort, neural systems)
underlying self-serving evaluations. In this talk, I will discuss a
series of behavioral, fMRI, and lesion studies conducted in our lab
that shed light on these questions. Results indicate that although
behavioral indicators of self-serving responses may look similar
across contexts, motivational states impact their underlying neural
profile. In other words, the way we arrive at self-serving responses
likely depends on whether our current goal is to maintain positive
self-esteem or not. These studies inform psychological models of
social evaluation and expand current neural models of social
cognition.

Sponsored by: Cognitive System Talks


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