Psychological Review

Topics: Identity, Conceptions of self, Developmental psychology Pages: 5 (1429 words) Published: March 12, 2013
Case Study

A Study of the early use of self-words by a child.
By Professor Charles H. Cooley

Soraya Peixoto

PSY7220 Child Psychology

The Psychological Review: A study of the early use of self words by a child written by Professor Charles Cooley investigates at what age self-references would turn up for the first time in a young child’s language and what kind of words these were. This study was done to find out how far and in what sense the self idea is a social conception.

The period of the observations were done from the 2nd month to the 33rd month. During this time the child showed to learn to talk. Self-references were defined as all words that referred in one way or another to the speaker himself. The appearance of self-references varied with the onset of speech. The observations were suggestive of the development of the self idea before it became articulated.

Early on the child showed a feeling similar to pride when discovery of being able to control her body and the manipulation of objects. At first the child didn’t identify herself, however after the thirty third month of age the child showed with emphasis the word ‘me’. A record of the words and the age of appearance have been provided.

A variety of theories exist as to the young child’s acquisition of own identity. Researchers in the Pieagetian tradition have tried to understand the acquisition of identity within the contest of the development stages such as Erik Erikson. Many of the successes and failures that people experience in many areas of life are closely related to the ways that they have learned to view themselves and their relationships with others. Self-concept is learned. It has yet to be proven that we are born with a self-concept. It gradually emerges in the early months of life and is shaped and reshaped through repeated perceived experiences, particularly with significant others. The fact that self-concept is learned has some important implications.

There are a variety of issues that are explored in this study, they has been divided into a number of questions with reference to the observations that are of interest.

Inarticulate Self-feeling
Cooley (1908) states that in the fourth month the child shows pride when she has the ability to control her own body. Berk (2008) states that the beginnings of self awareness stems from intermodal perception, this is when we have the ability to take all the surrounding stimulus such as smells, sights, sounds and unify them in an integrated way. Therefore the child develops the concept of himself as a separate person. Although I agree that the child is developing self awareness of his body, which is the first content of self-image, I don’t agree that ‘This extends, nearly or quite as early, to the sense of power over other persons”, as Cooley (1908) puts it.

Erik Erikson (1963) explains the stage of development of basic trust versus mistrust is from birth to one year. During the first year of life the development of trust in the child depends on the mother-child relationship and the quality of care and pampering he/she receives. For example in the case study when the child of three months is satisfied when she “cries to be taken up”, she develops the basic trust in the caregiver which involves the child’s acquisition of a healthy trust in her world. Gordon (1975) explains that the baby soon realizes that she can get attention in crying and in this way she becomes aware of herself and the effect on others.

The Correct Understanding of ‘I’ and ‘You’ when Used by others. Cooley (1908) states that this was achieved by the middle of the 19th month of age. The understanding of self increases with the use of language, according to Berk (2008) around the ages of 18 and 30 months (case study shows at 19 months) the categorical self emerges.

Imitative Use of ‘I’...
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