Chapter 11- Self and Social Understanding
Social-cognitive development proceeds from concrete to abstract.
It becomes better organized with age.
Children are able to revise the cause of the behavior from simple to complex
Emergence of Self and Development of Self Concept
Beginning of self awareness
o Newborn show a stronger response to other’s touching their face rather than
themselves touching their face- showing signs of understanding physical distinction.
o Intermodal perception: supports the beginnings of self-awareness.
o When shown a video to babies of themselves kicking- one from their view and one
from the observer’s view, babies looked longer at the observer’s view. -3M
o In another video, they looked longer at the reversed legs than at their own view.-3M
o Implicit sense of self- world differentiation- being able to differentiate that your own
limbs and expressions are different than those around.
o Explicit self-awareness: an objective understanding that the self is a unique object
in a world of objects.
o Infants older than 20 months had self-awareness of their facial appearance.
o Self-recognition—identification of the self as a physically unique being- around
o Around age 3- recognize the self-shadow.
o 18-21 months are able to construct an explicit body of self-awareness. – Realizing
the necessity to move from the carpet, to move the cart.
o They make scale errors, attempting to do things that their body size makes
Trying to fit self in to a doll’s chair.
Start to decline around age 2
Influence on self-awareness
o Sensitive caregiving plays a role in how infants acquire explicit self-awareness.
o 18-month-olds who often establish joint attention with their caregivers are advanced in mirror self-recognition.
o Through joint attention toddlers have opportunities to compare their own and
others’ reactions to objects and events, which may enhance their awareness of their own
o German and Greek toddlers -> attain mirror self-recognition earlier than toddlers of
o Nso people -> values social harmony and responsibility to others. They engage in
less face-to-face communication and more body contact.
o German and Greek -> value distal parenting style and independence.
o Nso people -> value proximal parenting style and interdependence.
o In conclusion, Nso people have later attainment of self-development but earlier
compliance with adult’s requests.
Mirror self-awareness precedes sustained, mutual peer imitation—a partner banging
an object, the toddler copying the behavior, the partner imitating back, and the toddler
The Categorical, Remembered and Enduring Selves
Language becomes a tool in self-development because it lets children represent and
express themselves more clearly.
Between 18 and 30 months, children construct a categorical self as they classify
themselves and others on the basis of perceptually distinct attributes and behaviors— age
(“baby,” “boy,” or “man”), gender, and physical characteristics (“big,” “strong”).
Adult–child conversations about the past lead to an autobiographical memory. This
life-story narrative grants the child a remembered self.
Enduring self—a view of themselves as persisting over time.- age 4.
The Inner Self: Children’s Theory of Mind
As children think more about themselves and others, they form the naïve theory of
mind- a coherent understanding of their own and others’ rich mental lives.
After age 2 they are aware of an inner self of private thoughts and imaginings.
Children’s developing theory of mind contributes vitally to perspective taking—
the capacity to imagine what others may be thinking and feeling and to distinguish those
viewpoints from one’s own. 18-month-olds can take into account differences in food preferences using another’s
emotional expression- but when the task becomes difficult like picking a gift; even 2-3 year
olds cannot compete the task.
Infant’s understandings are limited to desire theory of mind: They think that
people always act in ways consistent with their desires and do not realize that less obvious,
more interpretive mental states, such as beliefs, also affect behavior.
After age 4 -> belief–desire theory of mind, a more advanced view in which both
beliefs and desires determine actions.
False beliefs—ones that do not represent reality accurately.
o Becomes more secure around the ages of 4-6.
Lack of perceptual access leads to not knowing—that a person who hasn’t seen the
contents of a particular container can’t know what’s in it and, therefore, will be mistaken.
People can increase their knowledge by making mental inferences.
Second order belief requires the ability to view a situation from at least two
perspectives—that is, to reason simultaneously about what two or more people are
thinking, a form of perspective taking called recursive thought.
Not until age 7-8 do children explain how people’s prior beliefs might affect their
Language, executive function, make-believe play, and social experiences all
contribute to a child’s development in theory of mind.
Language and verbal reasoning
o Prefrontal cortex plays a crucial role- child who passes the false belief task show
activity in left prefrontal cortex.
o Children who use more complex words are likely to pass false belief tests earlier.
o Quechea children have difficulty with false belief tasks.
o Ability to inhibit inappropriate responses, think flexibly, and plan—predict current
performance on false-belief tasks as well as improvements over time.
Self- concept: the set of attributes, abilities, attitudes and values that and individual believes defines who she or he is.
o Preschoolers’ self-concepts largely consist of observable characteristics, such as
their name, physical appearance, possessions, and everyday behaviors
o Have limited ability to engage in behaviors (eye gaze, facial expressions), his
language was delayed, and engaged in less make-believe play.
o They show reduced activity in the cerebral cortex involved in processing emotional
and social information.
o Social comparisons—judgments of their own appearance, abilities, and behavior
in relation to those of others.
o Children 4-6 can only compare themselves to one individual, whereas older
children can compare themselves to their friends or group of people.
o They create different selves for different situations- leading them to question who
they really are.
o Compared with school-age children, teenagers place more emphasis on social
virtues, such as being friendly, considerate, kind, and cooperative—traits that reflect
adolescents’ increasing concern with being viewed positively by others.
o Among older adolescents, personal and moral values also emerge as key themes.
Cognitive, Social, and Cultural Influences on Self Concept
The self is a generalized other—a blend of what we imagine important people in
our lives think of us.
o Perspective taking skills are crucial for development of self-concept based on
When asked to recall personally significant past experiences, U.S. children gave
longer accounts including more personal preferences, skills, and opinions. Chinese
children, in contrast, more often referred to social inter- actions and to others. Similarly, in
their self-descriptions, U.S. children listed more personal attributes (“I’m smart,” “I like
hockey”), Chinese children more attributes involving group membership and relationships (“I belong to the Lee family,” “I’m in second grade,”).
Japanese children attribute considerably greater knowledge to parents and teachers
thanAmerican children do.
Self Esteem: The Evaluative side of Self-Concept
Self-esteem, the judgments we make about our own worth and the feelings
associated with those judgments.
o High self-esteem: a realistic evaluation of the self, and an attitude of self-acceptance
The Structure of Self-Esteem
The structure of self-esteem depends on evaluative information available to children
and their ability to process that information.
Changes in the Level of Self- Esteem: The Role of Social Comparisons
Self-esteem declines over the fir