The Blind Men and the Elephant: Selective Examination of the Public‐Private Literature Gives Rise to a Faulty Perception

Charles S Carver, Michael F. Scheier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

ABSTRACT Wicklund and Gollwitzer make two claims that the distinction between public and private self‐awareness/self‐consciousness is “Aristotelian,” and that the distinction is fallacious For the distinction to be Aristotelian, as Wicklund and Gollwitzer use that term, requires that the distinction not be embedded in a “process” model of behavior Thus, the first claim is easily shown to be false The second claim rests on a variety of empirical and theoretical issues An examination of these issues reveals (a) that Wicklund and Gollwitzer's alternative interpretations for public self‐attention effects are themselves Aristotelian—involving labels but no processes, (b) that their citation of literature relevant to their case is highly selective and misleading, and (c) that their abolition of the public‐private distinction would leave an embarrassing contradiction among self‐awareness effects, which Wicklund and Gollwitzer apparently are unable to address The vast preponderance of evidence thus supports the utility and the importance of the public‐private self‐focus distinction

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-541
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality
Volume55
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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