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Individual differences in physical self-representation

Chakraborty, A. (2016) Individual differences in physical self-representation. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Understanding oneself lies at the centre of the human experience. Yet, to study the ‘self’ using the empirical process is an enormously challenging endeavour. The self manifests through multiple layers and aspects, which ultimately combine to form a representation that is unique to each individual. One such aspect of self-representation pertains to the ‘physical self’, which is the focus of studies described in this thesis. Physical self refers to a core component of the self-concept, providing a constant anchor for rest of the self-components. Broadly, the physical self refers to the bodily features and their spatial relationship to each other. Physical self is vital for our social functioning through enabling a key distinction between self and other. Individual differences in physical self-representation can thus help characterise some of the building blocks of larger constructs such as cultural differences, and psychopathology. This thesis focuses on studying physical self-representation across two sensory modalities, visual and auditory. Individual differences are explored at two levels. First, the impact of culture is tested through studying physical self-representation in two different cultural settings, Western Europe and India, since culture is believed to be associated with crucial differences in the nature of self-representations. Second, the impact of autism-related traits is tested through studying how physical self-representation maps onto autistic traits in both clinical and subclinical populations, since atypicalities in self-representation are noted in psychopathological conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The main findings from the thesis suggest domain-specific self-representations can function independently of each other where necessary. Nature of physical self-representation shows task specificity, i.e. there are significant differences in response patterns depending on whether it is evoked explicitly or implicitly. These studies also found broadly similar patterns of physical self-representation in two different cultures. Finally, another theme emerging from the studies in this thesis is that individual differences in autistic traits are associated in a modality-specific manner with physical self-representation in both clinical and sub-clinical populations.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Chakrabarti, B. and Murayama, K.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
ID Code:72226


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