Description of Research Interests in the Area of the Self

I have two main lines of work in this area. The first indulges my interest in biology. My colleague, Constantine Sedikides, and I have written a number of book chapters that try to place the self in evolutionary context. We argued that the development of a "self" in humans might be driven by evolutionary pressures deriving from the need to deal with a flexible social system. Our argument is that humans' relatively advanced ability to use symbolic thought was applied to the problem of managing social interactions with others. Logically, the self is a necessary component of a symbolic representational system that is concerned with the problem of interacting with others. We haven't yet generated any testable research from these ideas, but such tests may be coming soon.

A second interest in the area concerns self-judgment. Social psychologists have long wondered whether the kinds of theories and principles that apply to how people think about others (e.g., attribution theory) also apply to how people think about themselves. Constantine Sedikides and I, and members of our research teams, have recently explored whether the same priming effects that one obtains in perceptions of others (as documented by a host of researchers - Higgins, Wyer, Bargh, and their associates) also occur when people make judgments about themselves. In this line of research we also wondered whether such effects could be overridden be peoples' tendencies toward self-protectiveness in those judgments. The story here is just beginning to unfold.

Skowronski, J.J., & Sedikides, C. (In Press). Temporal knowledge and autobiographical memory: An evolutionary perspective. In R. Dunbar & L. Barrett (Eds.), Oxford handbook of evolutionary psychology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Skowronski, J.J., Walker, W.R., & Edlund, J.E. (In Press). How do you feel about it now and when did it happen? Judgments of emotion and judgments of time in autobiographical memory. In L. J. Sanna & E.C. Chang (Eds.), Judgments over time: The interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Sedikides, C., Skowronski, J.J., & Dunbar, R.I.M. (In Press). When and Why Did the Human Self Evolve? In M. Schaller, J. A. Simpson, & D. T. Kenrick (Eds.), Evolution and social psychology. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.


Coutinho, S., Wiemer-Hastings, K., Skowronski, J.J., & Britt, M. A (2005). Metacognition, need for cognition and use of explanations during ongoing learning and problem solving. Learning and Individual Differences, 15, 321-337.


Monroe, M.R., Skowronski, J.J., MacDonald, W., & Wood, S.E. (2005) The mildly depressed experience more post-decisional regret than the non-depressed. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 24, 665-690.


Sedikides, C., Skowronski, J.J., & Gaertner, L. (2004). Self-enhancement and Self-protection motivation: From the laboratory to an evolutionary context. Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology, 2, 61-79.


Skowronski, J.J., Walker, W.R., & Betz, A.L. (2004). Who was I when that happened? The timekeeping self in autobiographical memory (pp. 183-206). In D.R. Beike, J.M. Lampinen and D.A. Behrend, The self and memory. New York, NY: Psychology Press.