Jochen Gebauer, PhD University of Mannheim, Germany
Keynote Lecture: Does a Communal Life-Orientation Really Quiet the Ego? The Cases of East-Asian Culture, Christian Religion, and Mind-Body Exercises Thursday, April 5th | 9:00-10:00 | University of Warsaw Library
A communal life-orientation can quiet the ego, thus, reducing self-enhancement. This ego-quieting view of communion is influential in psychology. In an effort to buttress that view, advocates typically refer to three instantiations of a communal life-orientation and describe them as particularly effective antidotes to self-enhancement: East-Asian culture, Christian religion, and mind-body exercises (yoga, mindfulness meditation). I will report on a broad research program that examines the ego-quieting function of East-Asian culture (Studies 1-2), Christian religion (Studies 3-4), and mind-body exercises (Studies 5-6). The results painted a coherent picture: All three instantiations of a communal life-orientation exacerbated self-enhancement in the communal domain. This pattern of results runs counter to the ego-quieting view. Instead, it is fully consistent with the self-centrality breeds self-enhancement principle. According to this principle, human beings have a deeply rooted proclivity to self-enhance on domains that are central to their self-concept (here: the communal domain). The present results have important ramifications for many psychological theories on the self, because many of those theories are based on the premise that the self-centrality breeds self-enhancement principle is a universal part of human nature.