Mark Snyde’s Self-Observation Theoryr, Which this author has developed in conjunction with his famous scale of observation of acts, seeks to explain how the degree to which we adapt our behavior to the social context in aspects such as personality or models of social interaction is related.
In this article, we will analyze the main aspects of the theory of self-monitoring and the scale that Snyder created to assess this construct. We will also briefly explain the applications of this model in areas such as personality psychology, organizational psychology, and even anthropology.
The theory of self-observation or self-monitoring
Social psychologist Mark Snyder proposed in the 1970s the concept of self-observation, which often also literally translates to “self-monitoring”. These terms refer to the degree to which people supervise and control our behavior and the image of ourselves that we project in social situations.
By completing the Self-Observation Scale developed by Snyder himself or other similar self-report instruments, a score relating to the level at which an individual monitors their behavior can be obtained. Significant differences were identified between all people with high self-observation scores and those with low levels.
In this way self-observation can be seen as a personality trait which would refer to a person’s ability or preference to adapt their behavior to the social context in which they find themselves. It is therefore a term very close to that of “spontaneity”, although specific to situations of social interaction.
Influence of self-observation on personality
People who perform well on self-control tests have a strong control over their outward behavior and the self-image they project socially; more precisely, they adapt to the characteristics of the interaction situation and the interlocutors. The self-image of these people does not always match their behavior.
Those who watch their behavior a lot tend to view social situations from a pragmatic point of view, placing great emphasis on goals such as positive feedback or conveying an admirable personal image. Snyder describes this trait as desirable and in a way pathologizes poor self-surveillance.
In contrast, those with a low level of self-observation seek maintain consistency between the vision they have of themselves and the one they project to others. Thus, they show cohesive social models, tend to express their true thoughts, and are not constantly concerned with how they might be rated.
According to Snyder and other authors, people self-observe they are more prone to anxiety, depression, anger, Aggression, low self-esteem, isolation, feelings of guilt, intransigence towards others or difficulty keeping a job. Many of these aspects would be associated with social rejection.
Mark Snyder Self-Observation Scale
In 1974, the Snyder Self-Observation Scale appeared, a self-assessment tool that assesses the degree of self-monitoring. This test originally included 25 items, Corresponding to statements associated with facets of self-observation; later the number was reduced to 18 and the psychometric properties improved.
If the original Snyder scale is used, scores between 0 and 8 are considered low, while they are high if they are between 13 and 25. Intermediate scores (between 9 and 12) they would indicate an average degree of self-observation.
Examples of items are “I am not always the person I seem to be”, “I laugh more when I watch a comedy with other people than if I am alone” or “I am rarely the focus in a group” . These sentences must be answered as true or false; some of them get a positive score, while others do it negatively.
Various factor analyzes carried out in the 1980s, when the Snyder scale was particularly popular, suggested that self-observation would not be a unitary construct, but would be made up of three independent factors: extroversion, orientation towards others and the extent to which social roles are applied or represented.
Applications and results of this psychological model
One of the most common applications of Snyder’s self-observation theory has been in the field of work or organizational psychology. Although initially we tried to defend that people with high self-supervision are better professionallyThe review of the available literature makes it difficult to support this assertion.
Studies show that those who score high on the Snyder scale tend to have more sexual partners (especially unrelated to a particular emotional type), to be unfaithful more often, and to prioritize sexual attraction. In contrast, for people with low self-control, personality is usually more important.
There is another interesting finding that stems from Snyder’s theory and scale and relates to anthropology. According to a study by Gudykunst et al. (1989), the level of self-control depends in part on the culture; so during individualistic societies favor high standardsAmong collectivists, the opposite is true.
- Gudykunst, WB, Gao, G., Nishida, T., Bond, MH, Leung, K. and Wang, G. (1989). A cross-cultural comparison of self-control. Communication Research Reports, 6 (1): 7-12.
- Snyder, M. (1974). Self-control of expressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30 (4): 526.