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The relative centrality of agency versus communion in self-concept

Agency and communion are the two fundamental dimensions of social judgment and their importance in social interactions is described in the Dual Perspective Model (Abele & Wojciszke, 2014): Agency is more important in the actor perspective whereas communion is more important in the observer perspective. In my research, I focus on the relative centrality of the two basic dimensions in self-concept (belonging to the actor perspective) since previous research in the agency-communion framework showed challenging results. On the one hand and in line with predictions derived from the Dual Perspective Model, self-evaluation is dominated by agency whereas communion only shows weak influence on self-esteem (Wojciszke et al., 2011). On the other hand, people rate their own communion higher than their agency and are more troubled if their communion is called into question by negative gossip than if their agency is doubted (Ybarra et al., 2012). But why should people care about their communal qualities if communion is not central for self-evaluation?

In order to answer this question and to reconcile these challenging findings, I take different approaches within my research. These include an in-depth analysis of the association between the two fundamental dimensions and self-esteem to test if communion shows a relationship with self-esteem if the fundamental dimensions and self-esteem are examined in a more detailed way. Therefore, a facet-model was proposed that differentiates agency into assertiveness and competence and communion into warmth and morality (Abele et al., 2016). Moreover, I analyze the relationship of these agentic and communal facets with different components of self-esteem. In my research, I also examine the reaction to negative gossip more precisely and analyze how agentic and communal content of gossip affects self-concept.

Central Publications:

Hauke, N., & Abele, A. E. (2019). Two faces of the self: Actor-self perspective and observer-self perspective are differentially related to agency versus communion. Self and Identity. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2019.1584582

Abele, A. E., & Hauke, N. (2018). Agency and communion in self-concept and in self-esteem. In A. E. Abele & B. Wojciszke (Eds.), Agency and communion in social psychology (pp. 52-64). New York, NY, US: Routledge.

Abele, A. E., Hauke, N., Peters, K., Louvet, E., Szymkow, A., & Duan, Y. P. (2016). Facets of the fundamental content dimensions: Agency with competence and assertiveness – communion with warmth and morality. Frontiers in Psychology, 7:1810. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01810