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Describe the process by which self concept is developed and maintained

Define self-concept and discuss how we develop our self-concept. Define self-esteem and discuss how we develop self-esteem. Explain how social comparison theory and self-discrepancy theory influence self-perception. Discuss how social norms, family, culture, and media influence self-perception. Define self-presentation and discuss common self-presentation strategies.

Just as our perception of others affects how we communicate, so does our perception of ourselves. But what influences our self-perception? How much of our self is a product of our own making and how much of it is constructed based on how others react to us? How do we present ourselves to others in ways that maintain our sense of self or challenge how others see us?

We will begin to answer these questions in this section as we explore self-concept, self-esteem, and self-presentation. Self-Concept Self-concept refers to the overall idea of who a person thinks he or she is.

Each person has an overall self-concept that might be encapsulated in a short list of overarching characteristics that he or she finds important. In some situations, personal characteristics, such as our abilities, personality, and other distinguishing features, will best describe who we are.

You might consider yourself laid back, traditional, funny, open minded, or driven, or you might label yourself a leader or a thrill seeker. In other situations, our self-concept may be tied to group or cultural membership.

  1. In fact, in professional contexts, people with higher self-esteem are more likely to work harder based on negative feedback, are less negatively affected by work stress, are able to handle workplace conflict better, and are better able to work independently and solve problems Brockner, 1988. The dynamic quality of self-concept also carries corollaries.
  2. There is growing awareness that of all the perceptions we experience in the course of living, none has more profound significance than the perceptions we hold regarding our own personal existence--our concept of who we are and how we fit into the world. I do consider myself a good teacher, however, and I have spent and continue to spend considerable time and effort on improving my knowledge of teaching and my teaching skills.
  3. Perhaps Matt feels good about himself in part because he knows that other people like to watch him.

For example, you might consider yourself a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, a Southerner, or a member of the track team. Men are more likely than women to include group memberships in their self-concept descriptions.

Our self-concept is also formed through our interactions with others and their reactions to us. These thoughts evoke emotional responses that feed into our self-concept. Social comparison theory states that we describe and evaluate ourselves in terms of how we compare to other people.

Social comparisons are based on two dimensions: In terms of superiority and inferiority, we evaluate characteristics like attractiveness, intelligence, athletic ability, and so on. For example, you may judge yourself to be more intelligent than your brother or less athletic than your best friend, and these judgments are incorporated into your self-concept. Reference groups are the groups we use for social comparison, and they typically change based on what we are evaluating. In terms of athletic ability, many people choose unreasonable reference groups with which to engage in social comparison.

If a man wants to get into better shape and starts an exercise routine, he may be discouraged by his difficulty keeping up with the aerobics instructor or running partner and judge himself as inferior, which could negatively affect his self-concept. Using as a reference group people who have only recently started a fitness program but have shown progress could help maintain a more accurate and hopefully positive self-concept.

We also engage in social comparison based on similarity and difference. Since self-concept is context specific, similarity may be desirable in some situations and difference more desirable in others.

Factors like age and personality may influence whether or not we want to fit in or stand out.

Develop a Healthy Self-Concept

Although we compare ourselves to others throughout our lives, adolescent and teen years usually bring new pressure to be similar to or different from particular reference groups.

Think of all the cliques in high school and how people voluntarily and involuntarily broke off into groups based on popularity, interest, culture, or grade level. Some kids in your high school probably wanted to fit in with and be similar to other people in the marching band but be different from the football players.

  1. These differences potentially affect the individual's subjective well-being. Mid-level merchants in an urban community were compared to those in a kibbutz collective community.
  2. The interpretation of dreams. In other words, one's self-evaluation relies on self-perceptions and how others perceive them.
  3. For example, a singer might train and practice for weeks before singing in front of a well-respected vocal coach but not invest as much effort in preparing to sing in front of friends.
  4. Self-presentational responses to success in the organization. Boys are more likely to threaten, boast, and call names, suggesting the importance of dominance and hierarchy in groups of male friends.
  5. Influences on Self-Perception We have already learned that other people influence our self-concept and self-esteem.

Conversely, athletes were probably more apt to compare themselves, in terms of similar athletic ability, to other athletes rather than kids in show choir.

But social comparison can be complicated by perceptual influences. Even though students involved in athletics and students involved in arts may seem very different, a dancer or singer may also be very athletic, perhaps even more so than a member of the football team. As with other aspects of perception, there are positive and negative consequences of social comparison.

We generally want to know where we fall in terms of ability and performance as compared to others, but what people do with this information and how it affects self-concept varies. Some people strive to be first chair in the clarinet section of the orchestra, while another person may be content to be second chair.

This type of social comparison can be used as motivation. You can see in this example that evaluations we place on our self-concept can lead to cycles of thinking and acting. These cycles relate to self-esteem and self-efficacy, which are components of our self-concept.

Self-Esteem Self-esteem refers to the judgments and evaluations we make about our self-concept. While self-concept is a broad description of the self, self-esteem is a more specifically an evaluation of the self Byrne, 1996. Like self-concept, self-esteem has general and specific elements. Generally, some people are more likely to evaluate themselves positively while others are more likely to evaluate themselves negatively Brockner, 1988.

More specifically, our self-esteem varies across our life span and across contexts. Self-esteem varies throughout our lives, but some people generally think more positively of themselves and some people think more negatively. How we judge ourselves affects our communication and our behaviors, but not every negative or positive judgment carries the same weight.

For example, I am not very good at drawing. I do consider myself a good teacher, however, and I have spent and continue to spend considerable time and effort on improving my knowledge of teaching and my teaching skills. Even though teaching is very important to my self-concept, I am regularly evaluated on it.

Every semester, I am evaluated by my students, and every year, I am evaluated by my dean, department chair, and colleagues. Most of that feedback is in the form of constructive criticism, which can still be difficult to receive, but when taken in the spirit of self-improvement, it is valuable and may even enhance our self-concept and self-esteem.

In fact, in professional contexts, people with higher self-esteem are more likely to work harder based on negative feedback, are less negatively affected by work stress, are able to handle workplace conflict better, and are better able to work independently and solve problems Brockner, 1988. Self-Efficacy refers to the judgments people make about their ability to perform a task within a specific context Bandura, 1997.

As you can see in Figure 2. The following example also illustrates these interconnections. During a meeting with his professor, Pedro indicates that he is confident going into the next speech and thinks he will do well. This skill-based assessment is an indication that Pedro has a high level of self-efficacy related to public speaking.

Self-concept

If he does well on the speech, the praise from his classmates and professor will reinforce his self-efficacy and lead him to positively evaluate his speaking skills, which will contribute to his self-esteem.

By the end of the class, Pedro likely thinks of himself as a good public speaker, which may then become an important part of his self-concept. You can hopefully see that these interconnections can create powerful positive or negative cycles. While some of this process is under our control, much of it is also shaped by the people in our lives. The verbal and nonverbal feedback we get from people affect our feelings of self-efficacy and our self-esteem.

Obviously, negative feedback can lead to decreased self-efficacy and a declining interest in engaging with the activity again. In general, people adjust their expectations about their abilities based on feedback they get from others. Positive feedback tends to make people raise their expectations for themselves and negative feedback does the opposite, which ultimately affects behaviors and creates the cycle. When feedback from others is different from how we view ourselves, additional cycles may develop that impact self-esteem and self-concept.

Self-discrepancy theory states that people have beliefs about and expectations for their actual and potential selves that do not always match up with what they actually experience Higgins, 1987.

The actual self consists of the attributes that you or someone else believes you actually possess. The ideal self consists of the attributes that you or someone else would like you to possess. The ought self consists of the attributes you or someone else believes you should possess.

These different selves can conflict with each other in various combinations.

For example, if your ought self should volunteer more for the local animal shelter, then your actual self may be more inclined to do so. Discrepancies between the ideal and ought selves can be especially stressful. For example, many professional women who are also mothers have an ideal view of self that includes professional success and advancement.

They may also have an ought self that includes a sense of duty and obligation to be a full-time mother. These discrepancies do not just create cognitive unease—they also lead to emotional, behavioral, and communicative changes. When we compare the actual self to the expectations of ourselves and others, we can see particular patterns of emotional and behavioral effects.

For example, if your ideal self has no credit card debt and your actual self does, you may be frustrated with your lack of financial discipline and be motivated to stick to your budget and pay off your credit card bills. For example, if your parents think you should follow in their footsteps and take over the family business, but your actual self wants to go into the military, then you may be unsure of what to do and fear being isolated from the family.

For example, if your ought self should volunteer more for the local animal shelter, then your actual self may be more inclined to do so due to the guilt of reading about the increasing number of animals being housed at the facility. The following is a review of the four potential discrepancies between selves: We have an overall feeling that we are not obtaining our desires and hopes, which leads to feelings of disappointment, dissatisfaction, and frustration.

We have an overall feeling that we are not meeting what others see as our duties and obligations, which leads to feelings of agitation including fear of potential punishment. We have an overall feeling that we are not meeting our duties and obligations, which can lead to a feeling that we have fallen short of our own moral standards.

Influences on Self-Perception We have already learned that other people influence our self-concept and self-esteem. While interactions we have with individuals and groups are definitely important to consider, we must also note the influence that larger, more systemic forces have on our self-perception. Social and family influences, culture, and the media all play a role in shaping who we think we are and how we feel about ourselves.

  • Routledge, 2011 , 261;
  • In fact, more recent studies have discounted much of the early research on race and self-esteem that purported that African Americans of all ages have lower self-esteem than whites;
  • A person's self-concept may change with time as reassessment occurs, which in extreme cases can lead to identity crises;
  • We also engage in social comparison based on similarity and difference;
  • Society and the adolescent self-image;
  • We take credit for our successes, and we blame our failures on others.

Although these are powerful socializing forces, there are ways to maintain some control over our self-perception. Social and Family Influences Various forces help socialize us into our respective social and cultural groups and play a powerful role in presenting us with options about who we can be.

While we may like to think that our self-perception starts with a blank canvas, our perceptions are limited by our experiences and various social and cultural contexts. Parents and peers shape our self-perceptions in positive and negative ways. Feedback that we get from significant others, which includes close family, can lead to positive views of self Hargie, 2011. In the past few years, however, there has been a public discussion and debate about how much positive reinforcement people should give to others, especially children.

The following questions have been raised: Do we have current and upcoming generations that have been overpraised? Is the praise given warranted?