The subject of self-concept in psychology has received much research because of pertinence on human behavioral aspects. On the other hand, self-concept clarity is the degree to which an individual is aware of oneself this is closely related to self-concept only that the former is a measure of the degree. Another associated facet of the subject is the self-esteem, which refers to the evaluation process of self-concept
Definition of Concept of Self
Self-concept is a multidimensional construct used to refer to how people view themselves in comparison to a couple of aspects that include academics, gender roles, sexual orientation, and racial orientation etc. The various characteristics constitute different research domains referred to as the academic self-concepts. Research indicates that the various characteristics do not exist on solitary basis. This is mainly attributed to the fact that self-concept is a compound of beliefs based on who an individual is (Margaret & Karl, 2011).
Individual Development of Self-Concept
In order to conceptualize on the developmental process of self-concept, one can look at the construction of a building. During the initial stages, there are no structures raised but the demarcations and the foundations can give a clue of the various rooms, size and orientation of the building. As time goes by, the final image of the building is well perceived after most of the structures have been raised. This image provides a basis on the development of self-concept. It is paramount to recall that self-concept is similar to any other aspect of knowledge because the self is an aspect of cognitive construction.
The developmental process of self-concept for an individual starts during early childhood, and proceeds through adolescence and adulthood. The aspect of self-concept being a cognitive construction means that the developmental process is constrained by the person’s level of cognitive development meaning that this will mainly proceed unevenly. This is in conformity to the to the “decalage” rule where the developmental process takes place in varying rates across the different domains.
As realized above, the multidimensional aspect of self-concept is similar to the house having several rooms. However, the difference to this analogy is that although the rooms are added after the preliminary construction works, the self-concept development system is somewhat dynamic and undergoes through modifications throughout the process of development. In the case of a child, the developmental process is less differentiated and is initially simpler and proceeds to more organized and articulate structure in the child’s adult life. This process is also not continuous but occurs in stages like modifications (Suddendorf, & Corballis, 1997).
Just like the construction analogy, the little child’s knowledge of self is much similar to the initial building stage where the construction site is filled with materials. During this time, the items used in describe oneself such as “small”, “beautiful”, “mean”, occur as separate, clumsy elements in the child’s mental faculties. This is mainly attributed to the child’s inability to integrate the self-descriptors into an organized whole. In child developmental psychology, it is found out that children are generally unable to concentrate on different ideas at the same time, and later on incorporate the ideas in order to come up with something meaningful. This is because this cognitive ability is still undeveloped.
In addition, it is found that preschool children usually find it difficult to integrate contrasting descriptors such as “nice” and “mean”. In addition, the children also lack the ability of utilizing perspective taking during these stages their lives. These inherent inabilities renders them or more specifically incapacitates them from using behaviors or perspectives as depicted by others in making judgments of their own conduct or performance. This means that the preschool children are unable to use information obtained from observing other individuals in evaluating their own inadequacies or competencies. Consequently, the preschool child’s descriptions of self may not be pragmatic but are overly positive.
As the child progresses in age and proceeds to elementary school, the child at this age bracket starts to systematize the self-descriptors of “Me-self” into groupings that exhibit some level of lucidity. As an illustration, the early-elementary-school-aged child may correlate that having good skills in drawing objects and figures, coloring and carving may suggest that he or she excels in art. However, during this stage, the child is yet to take in self-descriptors with contrasting features.
These contrasting characteristics are such as “nice versus mean”. The child’s ability to view personal qualities as exemplary ones and to credit the nuance of concomitant negative attributes. The elementary school may still have perceptions about self that are often unrealistic. These children tend to exhibit minimal differences between the realistic and ideal description of themselves. Since the child is still developing, there are improvements in the ability to take in perspectives. This works a lot in enabling the child to evaluate own attributes with those of others’. The child therefore, begins to internalize the evaluation of another person’s reaction as either a punishment or reward. This occurs as the use of other peoples’ standards as measures for self-evaluation (Lemire, 2001).
When the children reach the stages between middle childhood and early adolescence, they considerably develop the ability of assimilating and taking in contrasting characteristics and start to form more abstract concept in evaluating and describing themselves. When a child who is between middle childhood and early adolescence, he/she describes him or herself as being smart, the child usually evaluates several aspects of external influences over various experiences and situations. With time, the self-assed evaluations become more resistant to changes. During the stages of middle childhood and early adolescence, the individuals are more bound to depict a decline in self-esteem. This is mainly attributed to the ability of the children to recognize their own inadequacies in comparison to their fellow schoolmates or friends. Although they still recognize their strong points, children at this age tend to concentrate more on their shortcomings.
Relationship between the Self and Emotion
The self-concept and emotions are intricately interrelated because an individual’s judgments on oneself will more often than not dictate how the person will react in different situations. Emotions are subjective. This means that they generally depend on an individual’s perception, viewpoints and attribution to meaning. With this regard, their subjectivity indicates that different individuals may exhibit different emotional reactions to similar experiences. For instance, when a person perceives him or herself, as a brave character, this will mainly dictate the emotions elicited when frightening moments occur. Consequently, this will form a basis of evaluation on whether to choose between the flight or fight mechanism (Harwood, 1999).
How Self and Emotion Affects an Individual’s Self-Esteem
The self-concept and the elicited emotional feeling towards a particular experience have underlying effects to an individual’s self-esteem. As evidenced earlier on, people in their adolescent stages are more likely to experience low self-esteem as they continue to become more aware of their own inadequacies in comparison to their friends. Low self-esteem is mainly attributed to a person’s perception, awareness and concern towards his or her very own shortcomings. On the other hand, an individual high self-esteem is mainly attributed to the perception, awareness and concern for his or her own desirable qualities. With this regard, when an individual perceives to be good at a particular subject, this will elicit virtuous emotions in concern to that subject and will often generate a high self-esteem whenever the given subject is concerned. On the other hand, whenever an individual is aware and concerned about his or her own inadequacies regarding a particular subject, participating in that subject will usually elicit negative emotions and the development of a low esteem in the given subject (Libby, 2007).
The Relationship between the Self and Behavior
Self-concept influences an individual’s behavior because it mainly dictates how the individual is supposed to react under different circumstances. As an illustration, when someone believes that he or she is persistent. This individual will definitely make unending attempts to accomplish the intended goals even if it means failing several times. On the other hand, if one believes that he is a victim, then the person may end up terming his or her efforts as futile after failing the first time.
How Self and Behavior Affects an Individual’s Self-Presentation.
Self-presentation is mainly concerned with how an individual conduct oneself in public. The self-concept change takes into account how an individual conducts oneself and goes to the extent of occurring even when the persons are unaware of being observed. People who are good at self-monitoring are more likely to internalize their conduct unlike those who are weak at self-monitoring. Studies indicate that different public situations have an effect to the internalization of behavior. This means that the self-concept influences the choice concerned with self-portrayal. Consequently, it affects how an individual draws on episodes from the person’s history as opposed to relying on a yoked script.
In conclusion, we find that the self-concept is multidimensional design that is used in referring to how individuals describe and perceive themselves in relation to a variety of aspects that include academics, gender roles, sexual orientation, and racial orientation etc. The developmental process of self-concept for an individual starts during early childhood and continues through adolescence and adulthood. The developmental process of self-concept is analogous to the construction of a house where the site begins with less defined structures and finally becomes more intricate and well established. Self-concept in children is still unrealized because of their inability to take in contrasting elements and evaluating different elements in forming a lucid construct. However, as the individual progresses with age, so does the developmental process. In adolescent stages, the individual is highly likely to develop low self-esteem issues as the person becomes more aware of his or her own inadequacies in relation to others.
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