Lecture 24 (Wednesday, November 14, 2012)
Self Understanding: How Do We Come To Know Who We Are?
Self = who and what we are
The concept of “who am I” develops throughout childhood and adulthood
Self – understanding = your cognitive or mental representation of whom and what we are
Our abilities, talents, social roles and other roles (brother, sister, mother, athlete etc.) and the way you
experience these roles are going to help you experience who you are and create a personal identity
Cognitive representation of the self
Developmental course selfunderstanding
Tied to cognitive development?
Self – Understanding in Infancy
The problem is that we cannot ask infants how they see themselves
What would self – understanding look like in a pre – verbal infant?
We can’t ask them so it’s hard to know
Self – recognition = being able to recognize yourself in the mirror.
You know that you exist as some defined unit in the world.
Mirror Technique Research (BrooksGunn)
The way we look at self recognition in babies involves violating the appearance of the person looking
in the mirror by putting a dot on their face somewhere
If you violate their concept of self in this way by changing their appearance do they look in the mirror
and realize something is wrong and try to get rid of the mark
Originally used in nonhuman consciousness research ▯ do they have a self and know that they are
their own unit in the world?
All monkeys can past the mark test by a certain age
Apparently dolphins, elephants and various other non – human animals can recognize when they have
been violated with this type of mark
Non – human animals alike infants do not talk so BrooksGunn used technique on infants
What BrooksGunn did was bring baby and mom into lab and you have mom place some colour on
babies nose and you wait to see how much they touch their nose (not looking in mirror yet)
1 Lecture 24 (Wednesday, November 14, 2012)
That is giving you some baseline measure of nose touching and that what you are looking at is if the
nose touching increases
Then once you know how much they touch their nose you place them in front of the mirror and you
watch to see if nose touching increases
Before age 1 it is very unlikely that they will show that their sense of self has been violated but move
forward a few months you see a big of increase
But once you get to around 1924 months the vast majority of babies realize that the mark is there and
they start trying to get rid of it
They are indicating some concept of self that includes a bodily concept
These babies are in sensory motor stage and they are in sub stage 6 by the time they can recognize
themselves in the mirror and this is what exactly what Piaget would say because in this stage you start
seeing mental representation and self
SelfUnderstanding Early Childhood (27/8)
1. Activities – oriented = when children describe themselves they focus on the activities they engage in
Example ▯what types of games they play, toys they like etc.
Concrete descriptions, nothing abstract going on (i.e. I am a nice complex person)
What they are saying i.e. I know my ABC’s, or I live in a big house
2. Physical/material = you don’t see children comparing themselves to other people often, but if they do
they compare based on physical/material things not internal things
Example ▯I am different from Jennifer because she has blonde hair and I have brown hair, or I’m
different from Henry because I am taller and I am different from my sister because I have a bicycle
3. Centered = if you start asking about if someone is nice or mean or both they wi