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Lecture 7

PSY210H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Mendelian Inheritance, Research Question, Heredity

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Tina Malti

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Lecture 7: Chapter 11 Development of Self
The self: Conceptual system made up of one’s thoughts and attitudes about oneself; can include
thoughts of one’s own physical being, social characteristics, and internal characteristics
Development of Conceptions of Self
Children’s sense of self emerges in the early years of life & continues to develop into adulthood
Adults contribute to the child’s self-image
The Self in Infancy
oInfants have a rudimentary sense of self in the first months of life
oTheir sense of self becomes more distinct at about 8 months of age, when infants react with
separation distress if parted from their mother, suggesting that they recognize that them and
their mother are separate entities
oTheir emerging recognition of self becomes more directly apparent by 18 to 20 months when
they look in a mirror and realize they are looking at themselves
oTwo-year-old children’s exhibition of embarrassment and shame, their self-assertive behavior,
and their use of language also indicate their self-awareness.
The Self in Childhood
oAt age 3 to 4, children understand themselves in terms of concrete, observable characteristics
oChildren begin to refine their conceptions of self in elementary school, in part because they
increasingly engage in social comparison
Social Comparison: the process of comparing aspects of ones own psychological,
behavioural or physical functioning to that of others in order to evaluate oneself
oBy middle to late elementary school, children’s conceptions of self-begin to become integrated
oTheir newfound cognitive capacity to form higher order conceptions of self allows older children
to construct more global views of themselves and to evaluate themselves as a person overall
These abilities result in a more balanced and realistic assessment of the self, although
they also can result in feeling of inferiority and helplessness
oIn elementary school, children’s self-concepts are increasingly based on their relationships with
others, especially peers, and others’ evaluations of them, making them vulnerable to low self-
The Self in Adolescence
oThe ability to use abstract thinking allows adolescents to think of themselves in terms of abstract
oTheir concern over their social competence and social acceptance intensifies

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oAccording to Elkind, thinking about the self in early adolescence is characterized by a form of
egocentrism called the Personal Fable, in which they overly differentiate their feelings from
others and come to regard themselves, especially their feelings, as unique and special
oThis kind of egocentrism causes them to be preoccupied with what others think of them; Called
Imaginary Audiences: belief that everyone else is focused on the adolescents appearance and
oIn their middle teens, adolescents often begin to agonize over the contradictions in their
behavior and characteristics.
oWhen asked about their characteristics, 7th graders were less likely than older adolescents to
report contradictions in their characteristics.
oThese contradictions caused older adolescents, especially 9th graders, to feel internal conflict
such as confusion or negative emotion.
oIn late adolescence and early adulthood, the individual’s conception of self becomes both more
integrated and less determined by what others think.
Damon and Hart: Self-Understanding
oThe me as object: Physical, active, social, psychological
oStages of self-development
oA Study on Children’s Self-Concept and Aggression (Malti, 2006) Research question: What
are the relations between children’s self-understanding, social competence, and aggressive
Participants: 93 7-year-old children
Damon and Hart Interview: self-understanding
Behavioral observation of social competence in cooperative tasks
Parent reports of aggression
High social competence is associated with high levels of self-understanding AND low
Identity in Adolescence
As they approach adulthood, adolescents must begin to develop a sense of personal identity that
incorporates numerous aspects of self which Includes their values and goals about the future, their
political and religious beliefs, and sometimes their sexual identity
Erikson’s Theory of Identity Formation
oCrisis of identity vs identity confusion: chief developmental task in adolescence; during this
time the adolescent or young adult either develops an identity or experiences an incomplete and
sometimes incoherent sense of self
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