Understanding Self-Concept
Sun, April 18, 2021

Understanding Self-Concept

All of us want to live a happy life. We want to feel that we have made significant changes in the world and maintained our relationships with our loved ones. Achieving a fulfilling life is rooted in understanding oneself / Photo by: subbotina via 123RF

 

All of us want to live a happy life. We want to feel that we have made significant changes in the world and maintained our relationships with our loved ones. Achieving a fulfilling life is rooted in understanding oneself. It is only by understanding ourselves that we can make the right choices that will guide us to the kind of life we seek.

An understanding of self-concept, the image that we have of ourselves, can help clarify and solidify who you are as a person, what you like and don’t like about yourself, and what you need to change. According to Positive Psychology, an online resource for practitioners who want to put positive psychology in practice, there are some characteristics that all of our self-concepts have in common,

Our self-concept is important because it influences how we think, act, and feel in our daily lives. This applies to everyone because all of us are going to have beliefs of who or what we are. 

Theories of Self-Concept

Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist, stated that self-concept is built from our internal states, responses, and external behaviors. This continues to develop as we expand our ideas about who we are. A similar definition comes from Morris Rosenberg’s 1979 book on the topic, saying that self-concept is "the totality of an individual’s thoughts and feelings having reference to himself as an object.”

A book titled “Essential Social Psychology” written by authors Richard Crisp and Rhiannon Turner explained that all of us have our own attributes and personality traits that set us apart from other people. Examples of these include introversion and extroversion. At its most basic, self-concept embodies the answer to the question "Who am I?" For many years, countless experts have proposed several ways of thinking about self-concept. 

For instance, a popular theory known as the social identity theory explained that self-concept is composed of two key parts. First is the personal identity which includes the traits and other characteristics that make each person unique. On the other hand, social identity is how people identify with a collective. In 1992, psychologist Dr. Bruce A. Bracken suggested that there are six specific domains related to self-concept. 

According to VeryWell Mind, a trusted and compassionate online resource that provides guidance on mental health, these domains include social (the ability to interact with others), competence (the ability to meet basic needs), affect (the awareness of emotional states), physical (feelings about looks, health, physical condition, and overall appearance), academic (success or failure in school), and family (how well one functions within the family unit). 

Our self-concept is important because it influences how we think, act, and feel in our daily lives. This applies to everyone because all of us are going to have beliefs of who or what we are / Photo by: Ion Chiosea via 123RF

 

How is Self-Concept Formed?

The formation of self-concept begins while we are young, and continues throughout our lives. But, it is between early childhood and adolescence that self-concept experiences the most growth. According to ThoughtCo, a premier reference site with a 20+ year focus on expert-created education content, we start to differentiate ourselves from others by age two and understand our differences, mostly physically, with other people by age three and four. By six, children can communicate what they want and need as well as start to define themselves in terms of social groups.

Children start making comparisons with their peers between the ages of 7 and 11. From this point, they begin to describe themselves in terms of abilities and develop their ideal self and self-image. The turning point would be their adolescence, where they have an established self-concept and even experiment with different roles, personas, and selves. 

Three Components of Self-Concept

Self-concept is fluid. While previous studies have shown that it starts to form at a young age, it will change continuously throughout a person’s life as they gain new knowledge, experience new things, and start to figure out who they truly are underneath all of the external influences. Carl Rogers, a human psychologist, stated that there are three components of self-concept.

1 - Self-image

One’s self-image is how a person sees themselves in the present moment. According to IQ Matrix Blog, the home of over 400 life-altering mind maps, this includes the labels you give yourself about your personality and the beliefs you have about how the external world perceives you. However, our self-image may not be based on reality. In some instances, people exaggerate or lie about their personality traits.

2 - Self-esteem

Self-esteem, which is influenced by internal and external factors, is largely how we feel about ourselves. It also refers to how we compare ourselves to others, how others respond to us, and the type of feedback we give ourselves. For instance, people tend to have better self-esteem when praised compared to people who are being bullied. 

3 - Ideal self

A person’s ideal self is the person they want to be now and in the future. Perhaps that person wants to be more fearless, creative, disciplined, or a better friend. 

It’s important that we understand the core of self-concept. This is one of the greatest ways we can learn about and understand ourselves. At the same time, it plays a significant role in how other people view and treat us.