Skip to main content
Log in

The Unity of Self at the Interface of the Animal Body and the Cultural System

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Psychological Studies Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The self is defined by unity, which must be constructed from multiple inner processes and representations. The unity is more a requirement of social life than of brain activities. The self exists at the interface between the physical body and the social system, which for humans includes culture. The three main aspects of the self are a network of information (sometimes called the self-concept), an interpersonal being (e.g., member of a group or relationship), and executive function (e.g., making decisions). For each of these, multiple inner processes and representations must be integrated to produce the unity of self. Conscious processing plays a key role in this integrative process, because it is a vital means by which different areas of brain and mind exchange information.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Baars, B. J. (1997). In the theater of consciousness: The workspace of the mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Baars, B. J. (2002). The conscious access hypothesis: origins and recent evidence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6, 47–52.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F. (1982). A self-presentational view of social phenomena. Psychological Bulletin, 91, 3–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F. (1986). Identity: Cultural change and the struggle for self. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F. (1998). The self. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed., pp. 680–740). New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F. (2005). The cultural animal: Human nature, meaning, and social life. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F. (2008). Free will in scientific psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 14–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F., & Masicampo, E. J. (2010). Conscious thought is for facilitating social and cultural interactions: how simulations serve the animal-culture interface. Psychological Review, 117, 945–971.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1994). Losing control: How and why people fail at self-regulation. San Diego: Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (1998). Ego depletion: is the active self a limited resource? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1252–1265.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Corballis, M. C. (2004). The origins of modernity: was autonomous speech the critical factor? Psychological Review, 111, 543–552.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Corballis, M. C. (2009). The evolution of language. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1156, 19–43.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • de Waal, F. B. M. (2001). The ape and the sushi master. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunbar, R. I. M. (1998). The social brain hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology, 6, 178–190.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gailliot, M. T., & Baumeister, R. F. (2007). The physiology of willpower: linking blood glucose to self-control. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11, 303–327.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gailliot, M. T., Baumeister, R. F., DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., Plant, E. A., Tice, D. M., et al. (2007). Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: willpower is more than a metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 325–336.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gallese, V., & Goldman, A. (1998). Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind-reading. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2, 493–501.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gould, S. J. (1977). Ever since Darwin: Reflections in natural history. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heatherton, T. F., & Wheatley, T. (2010). Social neuroscience. In R. Baumeister & E. Finkel (Eds.), Advanced social psychology (pp. 575–612). New York: Oxford University Press.

  • James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. New York: Dover.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Jones, E. E., Rhodewalt, F., Berglas, S. C., & Skelton, A. (1981). Effects of strategic self-presentation on subsequent self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 407–421.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Markus, H., & Nurius, P. S. (1986). Possible selves. The American Psychologist, 41, 954–969.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marsh, H., & Craven, R. G. (2006). Reciprocal effects of self-esteem and performance from a multidimensional perspective: beyond seductive pleasure and unidimensional perspectives. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 133–163.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Masicampo, E. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (2008). Toward a physiology of dual-process reasoning and judgment: lemonade, willpower, and expensive rule-based analysis. Psychological Science, 19, 255–260.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, & society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morsella, E. (2005). The function of phenomenal states: supramodular interaction theory. Psychological Review, 112, 1000–1021.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Muraven, M., Tice, D. M., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Self-control as limited resource: regulatory depletion patterns. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 774–789.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pocheptsova, A., Amir, O., Dhar, R., & Baumeister, R. F. (2009). Deciding without resources: resource depletion and choice in context. Journal of Marketing Research, 46, 344–355.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tice, D. M., Butler, J. L., Muraven, M. B., & Stillwell, A. M. (1995). When modesty prevails: differential favorability of self-presentation to friends and strangers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 1120–1138.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tomasello, M., Carpenter, M., Call, J., Behne, T., & Moll, H. (2005). Understanding and sharing intentions: the origins of cultural cognition. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28, 675–735.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (2009). Initiative uses the self-control resource for active, instead of passive, behavior. Manuscript submitted for publication.

  • Vohs, K. D., Baumeister, R. F., Schmeichel, B. J., Twenge, J. M., Nelson, N. M., & Tice, D. M. (2008). Making choices impairs subsequent self-control: a limited resource account of decision making, self-regulation, and active initiative. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 883–898.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roy F. Baumeister.

Additional information

Work on this article was supported by the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research Common Fund with the grants UL1-DE019586 and 1RL1AA017541.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Baumeister, R.F. The Unity of Self at the Interface of the Animal Body and the Cultural System. Psychol Stud 56, 5–11 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12646-011-0062-5

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12646-011-0062-5

Keywords

Navigation