Self as cultural construct? An argument for levels of self-representations

Philosophical Psychology 22 (6):687-709 (2009)
Abstract
In this paper, we put forward an interdisciplinary framework describing different levels of self-representations, namely non-conceptual, conceptual and propositional self-representations. We argue that these different levels of self-representation are differently affected by cultural upbringing: while propositional self-representations rely on “theoretical” concepts and are thus strongly influenced by cultural upbringing, non-conceptual self-representations are uniform across cultures and thus universal. This differentiation offers a theoretical specification of the distinction between an independent and interdependent self-construal put forward in cross-cultural psychology. Hence, this does not only allow for a deeper understanding of different self-conceptions, but also for a formulation of new hypotheses regarding the cultural influence on self-representations. As one example, we will highlight the role of the proposed levels of self-representation for emotional experience and formulate some major implications of our interdisciplinary framework for future empirical research
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