Social Awareness

How do people become aware of self and the social world? Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund in 1972 proposed that people can be aware of self at any point in one of two ways, either directing awareness through self as subject, or directing awareness at self as object. This idea was generalized by Wegner and Giuliano (1980) in an analysis of social awareness. According to this analysis, people can become aware of any social entity either as a perspective that guides awareness, or as a target on which awareness can focus. People can become aware through self, others, or groups, then, and can become aware of self, others, or groups as well. These various forms of social awareness make it possible to represent not only self awareness, but such phenomena as empathy, self-presentation, and group identification.


  • Preston, J., & Wegner, D. M. (2005). Ideal agency: On perceiving the self as an origin of action. In A. Tesser, J. Wood, & D. Stapel (Eds.), On building, defending, and regulating the self (pp. 103-125). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
  • Smart, L., & Wegner, D. M. (2000). The hidden costs of hidden stigma. In T. F. Heatherton, R. E. Kleck, M. R. Hebl, & J. G. Hull (Eds.), The social psychology of stigma (pp. 220-242). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Hodges, S., & Wegner, D. M. (1997). Automatic and controlled empathy. In W. J. Ickes (Ed.), Empathic accuracy (pp. 311-339). New York: Guilford.
  • Wegner, D. M., & Giuliano, T. (1983). On sending artifact in search of artifact: Reply to McDonald, Harris, and Maher. Journal of Personalityand Social Psychology, 44, 290-293.
  • Wegner, D. M., & Giuliano, T. (1983). Social awareness in story comprehension. Social Cognition, 2, 1-17.
  • Wegner, D. M. (1982). Justice and the awareness of social entities. In J. Greenberg & R. L. Cohen (Eds.), Equity and justice in social behavior (pp. 77-117). New York: Academic Press.
  • Wegner, D. M., & Giuliano, T. (1982). The forms of social awareness. In W. J. Ickes & E. S. Knowles (Eds.), Personality, roles, and social behavior (pp. 165-198). New York: Springer-Verlag.
  • Wegner, D. M. (1980). The self in prosocial action. In D. M. Wegner & R. R. Vallacher (Eds.), The self in social psychology (pp. 131-157). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Wegner, D. M., & Giuliano, T. (1980). Arousal-induced attention to self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 719-726.
  • Wegner, D. M., & Vallacher, R. R. (Eds.). (1980). The self in social psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Wegner, D. M., & Schaefer, D. (1978). The concentration of responsibility: An objective self awareness analysis of group size effects in helping situations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 147-155.
  • Wegner, D. M., & Finstuen, K. (1977). Observers' focus of attention in the simulation of self-perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 56-62.