Chapter 5: Self and Identity
Twenty-Statements Test (TST): A test of self-concept, where participants
generate 20 answers to the statement “I am ________”
Think about your 20 answers to the question “who are you?” Together, these
reflect your self-concept: the set of ideas and inferences that you hold about
yourself, including your traits, social roles, schemas, and relationships.
How Does the Self-Concept Develop?
We develop sense of self out of physical development and cognitive
maturation along with social experience.
Mirror test: A test to see if an animal or human infant has sense of self by
showing self-directed behaviours while looking in a mirror. Often tested by
placing a red spot on the research subject and observing its behaviour.
Age Developing Aspect of Self Accomplishment
0-1 years Physical self-awareness Recognizing Me. Vs. Not me
1-2 years Self-recognition Mirror recognition
2-3 years Self-esteem Internalizing standards for behaviour
3-4 years Skills and abilities Demonstrating new talents
5-12 years Social comparison Comparing abilities with others
Private self-concept Keeping secrets
Adolescence Identity Abstract thought
Adulthood The self Internalizing societal expectations.
From birth to about 1 years of age infants are developing a sense of physical
awareness. Rather than having an awareness of themselves in the world, they
are still trying to discern what is part of them and what is part of physical
By age 2 or 3, children are able to recognize themselves in the mirror and in
pictures and have mastered language enough to use the words “I”, “me”.
“mine,” and the phrase “I’m…” appropriately.
Then Developing Self in School During ages 5 to 12 children are further developing their own abilities at the
same time becoming acutely aware of the abilities of other children as they
enter school. Have you ever seen kids at a park run to the top of a hill and vie
for the chance to declare, “I’m kind of the mountains!” Comparing themselves
with peers becomes very important between ages 5 and 6 and becomes
increasingly important. Children gain a sense of their own talents by seeing
how they measure up compared to others.
As early as ages 3 or 4 children recognize personality characteristics and can
use them to describe other children. However, it is not until they are about 5
or 6 that children may further progress and come to describe kinds in their
class using personality attributes in addition to social comparison
It is not until ages 9 or 10 that children come to understand what a trait is
and recognize traits as enduring qualities within a person that are stable
across time and situations.
Also between ages 5 or 12 children start to develop a private sense of self as
they recognize that there are parts of themselves that others cannot see.
They start to realize that they have thoughts, feelings, and desires that are
uniquely their own and not automatically known by others.
Adolescence and the looking Glass Self:
By the time we are adolescents, our self-concepts have become more
abstract, incorporating motivations, beliefs, and personality characteristics in
contrast to the more concrete descriptions of children’s self-concepts.
Objective self-awareness: seeing the self as an object of social scrutiny
Reflected appraisals: The opinions of significant others that are used as a
mirror to evaluate ourselves.
Looking glass self: Seeing our self as others see us.
An identity is socially defined. It includes definition and standards that are
imposed on us by others, including interpersonal aspects, potentialities, and
values. People have identities from birth, but they may not be aware of their
important until the teen years.
Many people believe, much as the psychologist Erik Erikson did, that an
identity crisis in adolescence is inevitable, universal, and perfectly normal.
However, this popular view is not supported by current research evidence.
For example, only teens who openly question the beliefs, values, and goals, of
their parents may experience an identity crisis as they experience a great
deal of confusion and anxiety over who they are and who they wish to be.
Stereotype threat: The distress people feel in a situation where their
performance may confirm a stereotype. This distress causes them to perform
worse than they are capable of.
Impact of Culture on Self-Concepts: We developed our selves – our self-concepts, self-esteem, and social
identities – by using three sources of knowledge: social comparison with
other, the reflected appraisals of others, and our own self-appraisals.
Attributive self-description: In the twenty statements test, aspects of the self-
concept that refer to psychological or physiological states or traits.
Social self-descriptions: In the twenty statements test, aspects of the self-
concepts that refer to social roles, institutional memberships, or a socially
Physical self-descriptions: In the twenty statements tests, aspects of the self-
concept that refer to physical qualities.
Individualism and Collectivism:
Cultures may be described along two dimensions: individualism and
Individualism focuses on the uniqueness of the individual and distinguishes
the person as separate from the group. Under individualism, people develop
their own selves including attitudes and values as distinct from the group’s
Individualistic cultures place a value on bravery, creativity, and self-reliance.
Collectivism places greater emphasis on the views, needs, and goals of the
group rather than the individual. Under collectivism, people, emphasize
being part of a social group and sharing beliefs and customs. In the extreme,
one’s beliefs, goals, attitudes, and values reflect those of the group.
Collectivistic cultures values obligation, duty, security, tradition, dependence,
harmony, and obedience to authority, equilibrium, and proper action.
Cultures that emphasize individualism are considered individualistic
cultures; cultures that emphasize collectivism are considered collectivistic
Independent and Interdependent Selves:
An independent self exists apart from other people and is autonomous and