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What Is Self Concept In Psychology

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Introduction To Self Concept

Self-Concept, Self-Identity & Social Identity â Psychology & Sociology | Lecturio

The self concept is the way we perceive ourselves and the ideas we hold about our competencies and attributes. In this article, we will discuss all about self, its nature, its theories and most importantly its role in our social life.

It is the accumulation of knowledge about the self, such as beliefs regarding

  • Personality traits
  • Goals
  • Roles

In adolescence, the self-concept becomes more abstract and complex. Moreover, it becomes hierarchically organized into cognitive mental representations or self-schemas, which direct the processing of self-relevant information.

Parents, friends, teachers and other significant persons play a vital role in shaping a childs ideas about self. Our interaction with other people, our experiences, and the meaning we give to them, serve as the basis of our self. The structure of self is modifiable in the light of our own experiences and the experiences we have of other people.

The Formation Of Self

There are three general stages of self-concept development during early childhood:

  • Stage 1: 0 to 2 years-olda. Babies need consistent, loving relationships to develop a positive sense of self.b. Babies form preferences that align with their innate sense of self.c. Toddlers feel secure with gentle but firm limitsd. At age two, language skill develops and toddlers have a sense of âme.â
  • Stage 2: 3 to 4 years-olda. Three and four-year-olds begin to see themselves as separate and unique individuals.b. Their self-images tend to be descriptive rather than prescriptive or judgmental.c. Preschoolers are increasingly independent and curious about what they can do.
  • Stage 3: 5 to 6 years-olda. They are transitioning from the âmeâ stage to the âusâ stage, where they are more aware of the needs and interests of the larger group.b. Kindergarteners can use their words to communicate their wants, needs, and feelings.c. Five and six-year-olds can use even more advanced language to help define themselves within the context of the group .
  • What Influences Our Self

    Self-esteem is a piece of self-concept. Michael Argyle was a British social psychologist that looked at how self-esteem fits into our overall self-concept. He believed that self-esteem was influenced by four different factors:

    • The reaction we get from others
    • How we compare ourselves to others
    • Social roles
    • How we identify ourselves

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    Learn About Your Self

    Our self-concept is the image we have of our bodies, capabilities, impressions, etc. . It includes:

    • The material self. Our body, possessions, and other things in our lives.
    • The interpersonal self. The views others hold about us.
    • The intrapersonal self. Our emotions, desires, needs, values, etc.

    Research psychologists noticed that the way we see ourselves is often similar to the way others see us. This finding is referred to as the looking-glass self . This research taught us that much of our self-concept emerges from the social interactions we have with others. Our ‘self’ emerges based on the information others tell us about who we are.

    Our self-concept also includes the self-awareness that we are part of categories based on our age, gender, race, etc. Some people theorize that self-concept is like the glue that holds all the pieces of our personality together. And, at its most basic, self-concept is the answer we give when asked the question “Who am I?”

    The Eight Stages Of Developing Self

    What Is Self

    According to Erikson, individuals experience eight stages through their lives. Each of these eight stages is characterized by a set of unique crises.

  • The infancy stage , is characterized by the crisis of whether we learn to trust others.
  • The toddler stage , is concerned with the crisis of whether the child feels he or she is able to investigate his or her surroundings.
  • The preschool stage focuses on the crisis of whether the child feels independent enough to do new things and, likewise, whether he or she feels guilt at trying new things.
  • The adolescence stage is concerned with the child becoming aware that he or she is different from others. More specifically, the child thinks he or she is capable of doing things on his or her own the reverse is that the child thinks he or she lacks the wherewithal to attempt new things.
  • The teenage state , following the adolescence stage, is characterized by the individual seeking to âknowâ who he or she is. A successful conclusion leads to greater self-understanding, whereas failing leads to a search for identity. In this stage, problems with alcohol and drugs first appear.
  • The young adulthood stage During this stage, an individual feels that he or she is worthy of affection, begins romantic encounters that usually lead to marriage and parenthood. On the other hand, if a person feels that he or she is unlovable, emotional isolation from others is the norm.
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    The Looking Glass Self

    In 1902, Charles Cooley, a sociologist, introduced what was known as the looking glass theory, an extension of self-concept that suggested your sense of self was directly influenced by the perception of those around you.

    For example, if you notice everyone laughs when you make a comment, you may start to define yourself as funny.

    Sense of self can be an important part of maintaining your mental well-being.

    In fact, older research from 2008 details how an unstable sense of self-identity is a symptom of bipolar disorder and can be for other mental health conditions, too.

    Even if you feel as though you have a robust self-concept, there are resources available that can help you explore what self-concept really means to you.

    The following resources may help guide you in self-concept development:

    What Are The Four Concepts Of The Self

    Within the framework for self-concept are coexisting theories, such as that of self-presentation, which suggests your self-concept influences how behavior can be a way to show others who you are.

    In self-presentation theory, four concepts of the self exist:

  • Public self: your view of yourself as defined by other peoples public knowledge of you
  • Self-concept: who you believe you are
  • Actual or behavioral self: the self created by your actions and habits
  • Ideal self: the self you aspire to be
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    Causes Of An Identity Crisis

    In Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, the emergence of an identity crisis occurs during the teenage years in which people struggle with feelings of identity versus role confusion.

    In today’s rapidly changing world, identity crises may be more common than in Erikson’s day. Such crises often occur in response to a sudden change in a person’s life. This may include personal life changes or broader societal events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

    People tend to experience an identity crisis at various points in life, particularly at points of great change, including:

    • Beginning a new relationship
    • Losing or starting a job
    • Moving to a new place

    Research also suggests that there are a number of factors that can influence whether a person experiences what is often referred to as a midlife crisis. Such factors include health issues, stress, and social support.

    Having a mental health condition such as depression, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder may also increase the likelihood of experiencing an identity crisis.

    The Role Of Body Image And Practicing Organized Sport On Self

    PSY 2510 Social Psychology: The Self-Concept

    Secondly, with respect to the multidimensional analysis of self-concept as regards the degree of satisfaction with body image and the practice of organized physical activity on the one hand, the results of the study showed that when the children were more satisfied or less dissatisfied with the figure, in general, they obtained higher scores in the academic and physical self-concept. This would seem to confirm the relationship between satisfaction with physical traits and self-concept .

    On the other hand, the children who practiced organized sports achieved better results in the emotional and physical self-concept. In this sense, there are many studies that have pointed out the fact that the physically active subjects have a better self perception physically . However, the relation between practicing sports and emotional self-concept is not so clear, as there are few studies that have come to this conclusion . Nevertheless, the positive relation between a high level of physical activity and the emotional wellbeing of adolescents has been demonstrated while a greater emotional self-concept implies better control of both situations and emotions, as well as a greater level of commitment in their daily lives . This would suggest that some of the factors that characterize the practice of organized sports, such as a greater frequency and intensity, competitiveness or commitment , could be decisive in the emotional dimension of self-concept.

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    Definitions Of Self Concept

    • Harter –The self concept is our total image of us. It is our total picture of our abilities and traits. It is basically cognitive construct which determines how we feel about ourselves and guides our actions.
    • Purkey Self concept is defined as the totality of perceptions each person has of themselves.
    • According to Symonds self is the way individual reacts to himself. There are four aspects
  • How a person perceives himself?
  • What he thinks about himself?
  • How he values himself?
  • How he enhances or defends himself?
    • American Psychological Association self concept is Ones description and evaluation of oneself, including psychological and physical characteristics, qualities, skills, roles and so forth. Self-concepts contribute to the individuals sense of identity over time,.

    The True Self As A Source Of Meaning In Life

    A number of perspectives converge to suggest that ones sense of who one is at the core may be a potent source of meaning. As existential philosophers have long maintained, coming to a deeper realization of who one is beneath the veneer of social trappings is what imbues life with a sense of authentic purpose. For example, Frankl argued that one of the fundamental purposes of his logotherapy is to help people in this search. Similarly, scholars of eudaimonic well-being consider meaning in life to be a central component of human flourishing, and argue that meaning in life can be separated from hedonic functioning by its association with authentic self expression . Thus, from this perspective, expression of the self provides an important basis for experiencing meaning in life .

    These perspectives note that with the lack of a common value base to appeal to, human beings began to look to their individuality for answers. Choices and actions are thus judged in terms of how they make the self feel and those acts which make the inner self feel good are deemed valuable. As Baumeister has stated, the self exports a considerable amount of value, for personal relationships and work and other activities depend on the self for their justification. Thus, the self provides legitimacy and justification to other things without itself needing a higher source of value . Empirical work offers further insights.

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    Overestimating How Closely And Accurately Others View Us

    Although the self-concept is the most important of all our schemas, and although people are aware of their self and how they are seen by others, this does not mean that people are always thinking about themselves. In fact, people do not generally focus on their self-concept any more than they focus on the other things and other people in their environments .

    On the other hand, self-awareness is more powerful for the person experiencing it than it is for others who are looking on, and the fact that self-concept is so highly accessible frequently leads people to overestimate the extent to which other people are focusing on them . Although you may be highly self-conscious about something youve done in a particular situation, that does not mean that others are necessarily paying all that much attention to you. Research by Thomas Gilovich and colleagues found that people who were interacting with others thought that other people were paying much more attention to them than those other people reported actually doing. This may be welcome news, for example, when we find ourselves wincing over an embarrassing comment we made during a group conversation. It may well be that no one else paid nearly as much attention to it as we did!

    Key Takeaways

    Exercises and Critical Thinking

    Exercises And Critical Thinking

  • What are the most important aspects of your self-concept, and how do they influence your self-esteem and social behavior?
  • Consider people you know who vary in terms of their self-complexity and self-concept clarity. What effects do these differences seem to have on their self-esteem and behavior?
  • Describe a situation where you experienced a feeling of self-discrepancy between your actual and ideal selves. How well does self-affirmation theory help to explain how you responded to these feelings of discrepancy?
  • Try to identify some situations where you have been influenced by your private and public self-consciousness. What did this lead you to do? What have you learned about yourself from these experiences?
  • Describe some situations where you overestimated the extent to which people were paying attention to you in public. Why do you think that you did this and what were the consequences?
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    The True Self In The Psychological Sciences

    A variety of personality theorists have considered the role of an inner core or true self in psychological functioning. Freud took a somewhat ambivalent stance regarding the importance of the true self to psychological health. Although the goal of psychoanalysis was to bring unconscious conflicts into awareness, for Freud, the hidden truth of human nature was a potentially threatening box of amoral sexual drive. Thus, for Freud, if we were fully aware of the inner core of human nature, we might, like Oedipus, rip out our eyes. Yet, in various ways the notion that there is value in awareness of the true self has been explicitly included in many theoretical approaches to personality . Though differing in many ways, these theories converge on a central theme, i.e., discovering and expressing the true self is crucial to psychological health. Represented in these theories is the notion that losing touch with ones true self is a source of considerable human misery. Thus, it seems reasonable to expect that the true self should be related to well-being. Empirical work provides support for these intuitively appealing ideas.

    A separate line of work conducted by Schimel and colleagues has demonstrated that validation of ones true self leads to less defensiveness in a variety of domains. For example, having participants visualize somebody who accepts them non-contingently leads to less downward social comparison, distancing from a negative other, self-handicapping, and conformity.

    Carl Rogers And The Self

    Famed psychologist, theorist, and clinician Carl Rogers posited a theory of how self-concept influences and, indeed, acts as the framework for, oneâs personality.

    The image we have of who we are contributes to our personality, and our actionsâcombined with our personality âcreate a feedback loop into our image of ourselves. Rogers believed that our personality is driven by our desire for self-actualization. This is the condition that emerges when we reach our full potential and our self-concept, self-worth, and ideal self all overlap .

    How we develop our personalities and self-concepts varies, thus creating the unique individuals we are. According to Rogers, we always strive for self-actualization, some with more success than others.

    How do people go about striving for self-actualization and congruence? This relates to the idea of how anyone maintains their idea of themselves. We explore that next.

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    Symptoms Of An Identity Crisis

    A person going through an identity crisis may be preoccupied with certain questions:

    • What am I passionate about?
    • What are my spiritual beliefs?
    • What are my values?
    • What is my role in society or purpose in life?
    • Who am I?

    While everyone questions their sense of self from time to time, you may be having an identity crisis if you are going through a big change or stressful time and the above questions begin to interfere with your daily life. You might also notice that you feel more irritable, unmotivated, or empty.

    It is important to be aware that having negative feelings about yourself or your life can be an indicator of a vulnerability for depression. If you are also experiencing depression symptoms such as low mood, loss of interest, fatigue, and irritability, you should talk to a healthcare provider.

    Why More People Dont Seek Self

    Psychological Self Part 2 (The Self Concept) – Understand the Self
  • Exploring unknown aspects of ourselves is risky, as it may reveal information that contradicts our current self-beliefs.
  • Our culture is more interested in success and advancement than introspection .
  • A variety of closely related terms distract information seekers, forming barriers to self-knowledge . Terms such as self-awareness, self-concept, and self-identity dilute the field of self-knowledge.
  • Letâs analyze some of these terms to provide greater clarity.

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    Adaptive Functions Of The Self

    Having a self-concept is a uniquely human trait. The capacity to form a self-concept presumably evolved because it promoted survival and reproduction among early humans. Because people have a self-concept, they can consider themselves in alternative times and circumstances. Thus, one adaptive function of the self-concept lies in helping people plan for the future. Goals, particularly ideals and obligations, are indeed central to peoples self-concepts. When a persons current self differs from his or her desired self, this motivates the person to take action to move closer to the desired self. Another adaptive function of the self-concept is to facilitate social behavior. When people view themselves similarly as their interaction partners, this helps people predict how others will behave toward them. A shared cultural background may lead people to construe their self-concepts in a similar manner. For instance, people living in Western cultures like the United States or France tend to regard themselves as more independent from others. By contrast, people living in Eastern cultures such as Japan or India tend to think of themselves as more mutually dependent. When people have similar self-concepts, they may understand each other better.

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