Self-Concept

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The Self-Concept is a complicated process of gaining self-awareness. It consists of mental images an individual has of oneself: physical appearance, health, accomplishments, skills, social talents, roles, intellectual traits, and emotional states and more –all make up our self-concept.

The development process begins at about six or seven months of age. The child begins to recognize "self" as distinct from surroundings. They stare at anything they see, including their own body parts; hands, feet, toes, and fingers. As they grow, their sense of identity expands through interactions with others –creating self-esteem levels that become the "booster" for the ability to interact. There are two theories that describe how interactions shape our self-views. One defines perceptions of the judgments of others called Reflected Appraisal. It is the notion of receiving supportive and nonsupportive messages. It states that positive appreciation and a high level of self-value is gain when supportive messages are received. In contrast, receiving nonsupportive messages leads to feeling less valuable, lovable, and capable. Everyone that you and I interact with influences these self-evaluations. Either from your past or from present –all shapes how you view yourself, especially from our significannot others. The strength of messages from significannot

others become stronger and eventually affect the health, when they are nonsupportive; depression, for instance, leads to less physical activities that are necessary for a healthy body. However, the foremost important influences are our parents. Supportive parents raise children with healthy self-concepts. While nonsupportive parents raise an unhappy child who view his/her self in negative ways.

The other theory defines evaluation of ourselves in terms of how we compare with others, called Social Comparison. There are two types, superior or inferior comparison and same as or different from others. We compare by attractiveness, success or failures, intelligence, and it all depends on whom we are comparing ourselves with. For instance, an individual might feel inferior when compared with an inappropriate reference group. Therefore, he or she might feel inferior because she feels less of everything from the reference. Similarly, the opposite occurs when compared with an appropriate reference group.

In addition, we also compare ourselves through distinctions from others to shape our identity such as ethnicity, background, physical characteristics, and origin. Its transformation begins with support (recognition and acknowledgment) from reference groups or models (those who we compare ourselves with). Take a father and son for example; when the son wants to be just like his father, he mimics his attitude, appearance, and behaviors, which in turn, slowly develops his self-concept. Thus, it is important that we place ourselves along side a positive role model to improve our self-concept.

Self-Concept is characterized by its levels of self-esteem, its flexibility, and its resistance to change. Self-esteem has a powerful effect on the way we relate to others. Those who dislike themselves are likely to believe that others won't like them. They imagine that others are viewing them critically, expect to be not accepted by others, and feel very uncomfortable around people who they view as superiors. Hence, creates hostility towards those individuals to gain likeableness. High levels of Self-Esteem on the other hand, are likely to think well of others, expect to be accepted by others, and feel comfortable with others they view as superior.

A healthy self-concept is flexible, in that it must adapt to the change of everyday interactions to stay realistic. Our personality stays constant, however, our physical appearance, intellect, emotions, and spirits change. It depends on how we manage our impressions in different situations. Change is a very difficult process...
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