Self Concept – Who are you? – May 8 , 2013 th
Self-description: identify activities that you participate in or
groups or organizations to which you belong
These are parts of your self – the sum total of who you are –
a person’s central inner force common to all humans and yet,
unique in each – deep source of growth
You are also part of your self concept – subjective description
of who you think you are – filtered through perceptions
Who you are is also reflected in your attitudes, beliefs and
values – learned constructs that shape behavior and self
Attitude – a learned predisposition to respond to a person,
object, idea in a favorable or unfavorable way. They reflect
what you do and don’t like
Beliefs – the ways in which you structure your understanding
of reality – true and false. Based on previous experiences
Relation between attitudes and beliefs – you can have a
favorable attitude towards something and still believe
negative things about it.
o Ex” hockey team will not win provincial championship
though you are a big fan.
Values – enduring concepts of good and bad, right and wrong.
Resistant to change than attitudes or beliefs
o Most difficult to identify.
o Very central to who you are
o Instilled in us by our interpersonal relationships.
Parents shape our values
o Values are central to our behavior and concept of self
and we are likely to change.
o Beliefs are more likely to change than our core values
but not as much as our attitudes
Are you Conscious of who you are?
Three ways of being self aware:
o Conscious of who you are and what you are doing
o Subjective self-awareness/objective self-awareness
o Symbolic self-awareness
Subjective Self Awareness
Ability that people have to differentiate themselves from their
environment. Separate from surroundings.
Ex: you are not physically attached to the chair you are
Objective Self Awareness Ability to be the object of one’s own thoughts and attention.
You have the ability to think about your own thoughts as you
think about them
You are separate from your environment (subjective) but also
ponder the thoughts you are thinking
Objective self-awareness can be turned on and off.
You can be aware or unaware of what you are thinking.
Symbolic Self Awareness
Unique to humans – our ability to think about how to make a
good impression on others.
Use language or symbols to represent ourselves to others.
Conscious effort to use symbols to influence how you are
One or Many Selves?
We have a core set of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and values
that constitute our self – sum total of who we are
Concept of self can also change depending on circumstances
Self concepts are different from the way others see us
Behave differently in public than in private
William James identified three components of the self:
o Material self
o Social self
o Spiritual Self
“You are what you have”
Total of all of the tangible/physical things you own –
possessions, home, body
Body gets considerable attention – change appearance
Discrepancy between desired and material self and self
concept, we try and eliminate discrepancy (lose weight,
The part that interacts with others
William James believed we have many social selves –
depending on friend, family member, colleague, those who we
interact with, we change the way we are
As many social selves as there are people who recognize
Ex: With your best friend, you can reveal more thoughts and
feelings than conversing with parents or professor.
Relationships with each person is unique – unique social self
“Who are you?” Spiritual Self
Internal thoughts and introspections about values and moral
standards – not dependent on what you own or with whom
Essence of who you THINK you are of your feelings about
yourself apart from external evaluations.
“Why am I here?”
How your self concept develops
Our interactions with other individuals
Association with groups
Roles we assume
Interaction with individuals
1902 – Charles Horton Cooley advanced the notion that we
form our self-concepts through our looking glass
o we learn who we are by interacting with others which
are reflected back to us
o Reflected appraisal – you learn who you are based on
how others treat you.
o Our behavior and who we are, are a consequence of our
relationships with others.
Hary Sullivan theorized that from birth to death, our self
changes because of how people respond to us.
o Our names are one of the primary ways we identify
o Parents are key in shaping who we are.
o As we become less dependent on our parents, our
friends become highly influential in shaping our
attitudes, beiefs, values
o Friends provide feedback on how we perform – shape
We incorporate the comments of others into our self concept
o We are more likely to believe another’s statement if
repeated. If many people tell us on different occasions
about our talent, we are likely to do something about it
o We are more likely to value another’s statement if
he/she has already earned our confidence. If the
individual is trustworthy, competent, we are more likely
to believe it.
o If comments are consistent with other comments and
our own experience. Association with groups
Religious, political, ethnic, social, study, occupation,
professional groups determine our self-concept
Associating with groups is important for those who are not
part of a dominant culture. The groups we associate with
provide information about our identity and needed social
Roles we assume
Father, sister, aunt, uncle, manager etc… are labels that
imply expectations of behavior, and shape our self-concept
Couples living together before marriage say that it alters their
relationship – labels of husband and wife assume traditional
We assume traditional roles because our gender group
asserts a powerful influence. Pink for girl, blue