Self-Concept in Psychology: Definition, Development, Theories

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Self-concept is the image we have of ourselves. This image develops in a number of ways, including through our interactions with the important people in our lives. Learn more about self-concept, including whether it can be changed and some theories related to self-identity and self-perception.

What is self-concept?

Self-concept is how we perceive our unique behaviors, abilities, and characteristics. For example, beliefs like “I’m a good friend” or “I’m a nice person” are part of an overall self-concept.

Our self-perception is important because it affects our motivations, attitudes, and behaviors. It also affects how we feel about who we think we are, including whether we are competent or not or whether we have self-worth.

Self-concept tends to be more malleable when we are young and still going through the process of self-discovery and identity formation. As we get older and know who we are and what is important to us, these self-perceptions become much more detailed and organized.

At its most basic, self-concept is a set of beliefs that people have about themselves and the reactions of others. It embodies the answer to the question: “Who am I?”

Three parts of Rogers’ self-concept

Humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers believes that the self-concept is made up of three different parts:

  • Ideal self: The ideal self is the person you want to be. This person has attributes or qualities that you are aiming for or would like to possess. It’s who you envision yourself to be if you’re exactly what you want to be.
  • Self imageSelf-image refers to how you see yourself at this moment. Attributes such as physical characteristics, personality traits, and social roles all play an important role in your self-image.
  • Self-esteem: How much you like, accept, and value yourself all contribute to your self-concept. Self-esteem can be affected by a number of factors – including how others see you, how you think of yourself compared to others, and your role in society.

Inconsistency and simultaneity

Self-concept does not always match reality. When it is aligned, your self-concept is said to be Congruent. If there is a mismatch between how you see yourself (your self-image) and who you wish you were (your ideal self), then your self-concept is incompatible. This irrationality can negatively affect self-esteem.

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Rogers believes that irrationality has its earliest roots in childhood. When parents place emotional conditions on their children (showing love only if the child “earns it” through certain behaviors and lives up to the parents’ expectations), the child begins to squeeze distorted memories of experiences that made them feel unworthy of their parents. love and cherish.

On the other hand, unconditional love helps promote unity. Children who experience such love – also known as familial love – feel no need to constantly distort their memories to believe that others will love and accept them as they are.

How does self-concept develop?

In part, our self-concept develops through our interactions with others. In addition to family members and close friends, other people in our lives can contribute to our own identity.

For example, one study found that the more a teacher believes in the abilities of a high-achieving student, the higher the student’s self-concept. (Interestingly, no such association was found for lower-achieving students.)

Self-concept can also be developed through the stories we hear. For example, one study found that female readers who were “immersed” in a story about a protagonist with a traditional gender role had more feminist views than those who were not touched by the story.

The media also plays a role in self-concept development — both mass media and social media. When these mediums promote certain ideals, we are more likely to make those ideals our own. And the more often these ideals are presented, the more they influence our identity and self-perception.

Is It Possible To Change Your Concept Of Self?

Self-mind is not static, which means it can change. Our environment plays a role in this process. Places that make a lot of sense to us positively contribute to our future self-perception through both how we relate these environments to ourselves and how society relates to us. they.

Self-concept can also change based on the people we interact with. This is especially true for the individuals in our lives who are in leadership roles. They can affect the collective self (ego in social groups) and the relational self (ego in relationships).

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In some cases, a medical diagnosis can change self-perception by helping people understand why they feel the way they do — such as someone receiving an autism diagnosis later in life. live, ultimately providing clarity on why they feel different.

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Other self-concept theories

As with many topics in psychology, several other theorists have proposed different ways of thinking about self-concept.

Social identity

Social psychologist Henri Tajfel developed the theory of social identity, which states that the self-concept consists of two main parts:

  • ID: Traits and other characteristics that make you unique
  • Social identity: Who you are based on your membership in social groups, such as sports teams, religion, political parties, or social class

This theory states that our social identity influences our self-concept, which in turn affects our emotions and behaviour. For example, if we are playing a sport and our team loses a game, we may feel sad for the team (emotions) or act against the winning team (behavior).

Many sizes

Psychologist Bruce A. Bracken has a slightly different theory and believes that self-concept is multidimensional, consisting of six independent characteristics:

  • Theoretical: Success or failure in school
  • Affect: Awareness of emotional states
  • Capacity: Ability to meet basic needs
  • Family: How well do you work in your family unit
  • Physics: How do you feel about your appearance, health, physical condition and overall?
  • Society: Ability to interact with others

In 1992, Bracken developed the Multidimensional Self-Concept Scale, a comprehensive assessment that assesses each of these six elements of self-concept in children and adolescents.

frequently asked Questions

  • When does self-concept development end?

    Self-concept development never ends. While one’s self is thought to be largely formed during childhood, your experiences as an adult can also change the way you feel about yourself. For example, if your self-esteem increases later on, it can improve your self-concept.

  • How does self-concept affect communication?

    Our self-concept can affect the way we communicate. For example, if you feel you are a good writer, you may prefer written communication to talking to others.

    It can also affect the way we communicate. If your social group communicates in a certain way, you can also choose to communicate that way. Adolescent studies have linked clarity of self-concept with more open communication with parents.

  • What is the difference between self-concept and self-esteem?

    Self-concept refers to a broad description of ourselves (“I’m a good writer”) while self-esteem includes any judgment or opinion we have about ourselves (“I’m a good writer”). I feel proud to be a good writer”). In other words, self-concept answers the question: Who am I? Self-esteem answers the question: How do I feel about who I am?

  • Why is a well-developed self-concept beneficial?

    Self-concept impacts how we react to life, so a well-developed self-concept helps us react in ways that are more positive and beneficial to us. One of the ways it does this is by allowing us to realize our worth. A well-developed self-concept also helps us not to absorb negative feedback from others.

  • How does culture affect self-concept?

    Different cultures have different beliefs. They have different ideas about how to be dependent or independent, different religious beliefs and different views on socioeconomic development.

    All of these cultural norms influence self-concept by providing a structure of what is expected in that society and how a person sees himself in relation to others.

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