Self and Identity
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The Name Letter Effect
Personal Attributes Questionnaire


The name letter effect is the tendency for people to prefer the letters in their own name. This
effect is one example of how a person's memories are biased. Why might people's memories
be biased in favor of themselves?


Developed by Mark Synder (1974), the Self-Monitoring (SM) Scale measures the extent to which
you consciously employ impression management strategies in social interactions. Basically, the scale
assesses the degree to which you manipulate the nonverbal signals that you send to others and the
degree to which you adjust your behavior to situational demands. Some people work harder at
managing their public images than do others.

In his original study, Synder (1974) reported very reasonable test-retest reliability (.83 for one
month) and, for an initial study, provided ample evidence regarding the scale’s validity. In assessing
the validity of the scale, he found that in comparison to low SM participants, high SM participants
were rated by peers as being better at emotional self-control and better at figuring out how to
behave appropriately in new social situations. Furthermore, Synder found that stage actors tended
to score higher on the scale than undergraduates, as one would expect. Additionally, Ickes and
Barnes (1977) summarized evidence that high SM people are (a) very sensitive to situational cues,
(b) particularly skilled at detecting deception on the part of others, and (c) especially insightful
about how to influence the emotions of others.

        Score  Intepretation: The norms presented below are based on guidelines provided by Ickes
and Barnes (1977). The divisions are based on data from 207 undergraduate participants.

           High Score:              15-22
           Intermediate Score:    9-14
           Low Score:                0-8


Self-handicapping refers to people's engagement in behaviors that hinder performance in an effort
to provide an excuse if they fail. Rhodewalt, Saltzman, & Wittmer (1984) have used this scale to
effectively predict the performance of competitive athletes.You and others should find the
responses to the items on this scale interesting. Question 4 on the scale must be reverse scored.
Higher scores indicate greater self-handicapping. High self-handicappers compared to low
self-handicappers are likely to engage in activities that protect themselves from an attribution that
they are failures. If they do fail, then they can attribute their failure to the situation and not to their


Devised by Janet Spence and Robert Helmreich (1978), the PAQ assesses masculinity and
femininity in terms of respondents’ self-perceived possession of various traits that are stereotypically
believed to differentiate the sexes. The authors emphasize that the PAQ taps on limited aspects of
sex roles: certain self-assertive or instrumental traits traditionally associated with masculinity and
certain interpersonal or expressive traits traditionally associated with femininity. Although the PAQ
should not be viewed as a global measure of masculinity and femininity, it has been widely used in
research to provide a rough classification of participants in terms of their gender-role identity. At
this point, you should take the PAQ before reading further.

Scoring the PAQ. Put an X in the spaces to the left of the items for the following: 1, 4, 5, 11, 13,
14, 18, and 23. These items can be ignored. The rest of the items are scored in the following
manner: A = 0, B = 1, C = 2, D = 3, E = 4. Based on the responses you circled, enter the
appropriate numbers for the remaining items in the spaces to the left of the items.

The next step is to compute your scores on the femininity and masculinity subscales of the PAQ.
To compute your score on the femininity subscale of the PAQ, add up the numbers next to items
3, 7, 8, 9, 12, 15, 21, and 22, and enter your score in the space below. To compute your scores
on the masculinity subscale of the PAQ, add up the numbers next to items 2, 6, 10, 16, 17, 19, 20,
and 24, and enter your score in the space below.



Interpreting your score. You can use the chart shown below to classify yourself in terms of
gender-role identity. These norms are based on a sample of 715 college students studied by Spence
and Helmreich (1978). The cutoffs for “high” scores on the masculinity and femininity subscales are
the medians for each scale. Obviously, these are very arbitrary cutoffs, and results may be
misleading for people who score very close to the median on either scale, as a difference of a point
or two could change their classification. Hence, if either of your scores are within a couple of points
of the median, you should view your gender-role classification as very tentative.