A comparison of self-descriptions between two children of different ages
The comparison is based on Rosenberg’s study of children’s self-descriptions. A comparison was made between two participants, Annie aged 8 and Kirsty aged 16 using a semi structured interview to find out whether there was a difference in self-descriptions at different ages. The results were analysed using qualitative analysis and it was found that younger children give more physical self-descriptions and older children give more self-descriptions in terms of inner feelings. This coincides with previous research conducted by Rosenberg. From this study and previous research it is possible to suggest that there is a developmental trend of children’s self-descriptions.
When discussing a person’s identity we usually refer to their personality and characteristics which are observable. In our life time we adopt many different identities which we share with some groups but not with others dependent on whether we see ourselves as the same as a particular group or different. An important aspect of identity formation for children, involves them drawing distinctions between themselves and others. Psychologists are increasingly interested in the self-descriptions that children give at different ages. Harter 1983 reviewed interviews of children’s self-descriptions at different ages and found a developmental sequence. She found that young children gave self-descriptions in terms of their observable characteristics such as their physical appearance and through activities which they preferred, as the children became older they tended to describe their character, and eventually children tended to give self-descriptions in terms of their relationships to others and interpersonal traits. Bannister and Agnew 1977 suggested that “children gradually become better able to distinguish themselves psychologically from others as they get older and also become more capable of thinking about themselves in different ways” (Bannister and Agnew 1977). This idea was followed up by Rosenberg (1979), he and his co-workers used open ended interviews with children from 8-18 years old to find out about their self-descriptions. Rosenberg’s interviews explored the question who am i?, but also examined children’s feelings of pride and shame, their sense of distinctiveness as separate individuals, their feelings about their ideal self, and their feelings about ‘locus of self- knowledge’. Rosenberg found that children’s replies could be categorised into a series of categories of self-descriptions (Rosenberg’s categories can be found in Appendix 1). Rosenberg found that younger children focused on physical self-descriptions and as they got older they started to incorporate relationships and their inner feelings into self-descriptions. In regards to the locus of self-knowledge Rosenberg found that younger children relied more on other people for judging themselves whereas the older children tended to place the locus of self-knowledge with themselves. This study is based on Rosenberg’s research and aims to find out if the same results can be found by carrying out a small scale investigation into the ways children give self-descriptions and how these self-descriptions vary with age and therefore this study is expected to find similar results to Rosenberg.
Design: A semi-structured interview was carried out in order to compare the self-descriptions between the two participants. The results were analysed using qualitative analysis. Participants: Two schools were approached and were asked for volunteers to take part in the research. Two females were selected, Annie aged 8 and Kirsty aged 16. In order to comply with ethical guidelines, consent was obtained from both participants’ parents for them to take part in the interviews and for their audio recordings to be used for research as they were 16 and under. Materials/Apparatus: Quiet room, microphone,...
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