Past work indicates that persistent stress leads people to misremember assigned tasks as self-selected, a phenomenon known as self-infiltration [Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J. (2003). Self-infiltration: Confusing assigned tasks as self-selected in memory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 487–497; Kazén, M., Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J. (2003). Self-infiltration vs. self-compatibility checking in dealing with unattractive tasks and unpleasant items: The moderating influence of state vs. action-orientation. Motivation & Emotion, 27, 157–197; Kuhl, J., & Kazén, M. (1994). Self-discrimination and memory: State orientation and false-self-ascription of assigned activities. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 66, 1103–1115]. The present research examined the link between self-infiltration and cortisol, a well-established stress hormone. Participants selected simple office tasks for later enactment and were assigned to do an additional set of office tasks by an instructor. After an 8-min stress induction, participants were unexpectedly asked to recognize which tasks were self-selected or assigned. Cortisol was assessed before and after the stress induction. As expected, self-infiltration was predicted both by pre- and by post-manipulation cortisol levels. These results point to some of the neuroendocrine functions that underlie the self.
Motivation and Emotion
Left-hemispheric activation and self-infiltration: Testing a neuropsychological model of internalization.
Two studies examined self-infiltration (as indexed by a tendency toward false self-ascription of assigned tasks) and its relationship to the activation of the two hemispheres of the human brain. Unilateral muscle contractions of each hand were performed by participants to activate the contralateral hemisphere and influence self-infiltration (confusing assigned tasks as self-selected in memory). In both studies, self-infiltration was observed after right-hand muscle contractions (left-hemispheric activation) and was absent after left-hand muscle contractions (right-hemispheric activation). In addition, Study 2 replicated the relationship between self-infiltration and left-hemispheric activation using a line drawing task to estimate participants' relative hemispheric dominance.
Motivation and Emotion
Self-infiltration and self-compatibility checking in dealing with unattractive tasks: The moderating influence of state vs. action orientation.
Self-infiltration, or false self-ascription of external goals or ideas, is investigated using an implicit experimental procedure (J. Kuhl & M. Kazén, 1994). Based on personality systems interactions (PSI) theory (J. Kuhl, 2000), it was expected that state-oriented participants exposed to task-alienating conditions, under external pressure, or experiencing negative mood would show self-infiltration, because under those conditions access to their self-system is impaired, including integrated representations of personal preferences. A new prediction is that self-infiltration should occur in processing low-attractive goals or ideas and not in processing high-attractive ones, because the latter are internalized through integration or identification with the self. Three experiments yielded results consistent with this hypothesis: State-oriented participants showed self-infiltration with low-attractive items, whereas action-oriented did not show this pattern. A mechanism is proposed that helps people to resist external influences in the formation of personal goals and ideas: Self-compatibility checking. This mechanism is inferred on the basis of long latencies in counter-preferential decisions related to previous self-choices (autonoetic access). Only action-oriented participants gave systematic evidence of autonoetic access.
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