Discover What Self-Concept Consists Of

Self-concept consists of the set of feelings, images and thoughts we have about ourselves. Find out more in the following article.
Discover What Self-Concept Consists Of

Last update: 10 May, 2021

Knowing what self-concept is can help you have better self-esteem and make more assertive decisions in your life. When we talk about self-concept, we’re referring to the image we have of ourselves. In the article below, we’ll tell you more about what self-concept consists of.

Of course, this image doesn’t form by itself but is a product of the most important interactions we’ve developed in life, among other factors.

Self-concept also encompasses the perception we have of our capabilities. That’s why, as time goes by, these are more organized.

For social psychology, this term is very important, just as it is for humanistic psychologists. In fact, experts in the field point out that self-concept is a decisive concept for the development of our personality.

Likewise, having a positive self-concept allows us to have good social, professional, and personal functioning. Are you interested in knowing more about it? In the following paragraphs, we’ll provide more details.

What is self-concept?

Self-concept is the set of feelings, images, and thoughts we have about ourselves. Thus, we make a distinction between the evaluative component (feelings) and the cognitive component (thoughts).

Thoughts refer to the beliefs we have about ourselves, and include body image, values, social identity, skills, or other traits we consider ourselves to have.

We sometimes refer to the evaluative component as self-esteem, which is a composite of the feelings, positive or negative, that we experience about ourselves.

An adolescent girl looking at herself in a broken mirror.
Self-concept can be positive or negative. It refers to the image we have of ourselves.

The main schools

As is the case with many other terms, there are many schools that have attempted to approach this notion of self-concept. For example, for Henri Tajfel, self-concept consists of personal and social identity, according to his theory of social identity.

When he mentions social identity, he’s talking about the groups we’re a part of, such as religion, family, university, or others.

And personal identity is reserved for our own personality traits, those that make us unique from other people.

Some authors have made a historical review of the different schools that have addressed the issue of self-concept and have classified them as follows:

  • Symbolic interactionism: Gives priority to the social dimension, that is, to the image that each person possesses based on his or her relationships with others.
  • Social learning: Emphasizes observable behavior, valuing self-reinforcement.
  • Behaviorism: Gives more importance to the environment and observable behaviors.
  • Cognitivism: Considers that the self-concept is part of a structure that drives the individual to achieve his goals and objectives.
  • Psychoanalysis: Studies the self-concept around the concepts of the ego, the superego, and the id.
  • Phenomenology: Studies the processes of perception, and what each subject internalizes.

In addition to these schools, there are also other methods that approach the study of the self-concept in a different way. Therefore, today it’s possible to find that this term is composed of several factors.

Self-concept factors

Depending on the school or author, the factors of self-concept may vary. From the position of the humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers, self-concept consists of three factors, which are as follows.

1. Self-image

Generally, it answers the question Who am I, and the answers may depend on social roles or personal traits.

Self-image may be influenced by friends, peers, or parents, as well as other peer groups. The media may also play a part.

It’s necessary to remember that the image that one has of oneself may not always coincide with reality. There are those who have a high self-image and think they’re better than others.

However, in these cases, there’s probably a tendency to hold a negative self-image, which causes weaknesses or defects to be exaggerated.

A teen smiling in the mirror.
The image we have of ourselves is largely influenced by our environment, family, friends and media.

2. Self-esteem

This indicator refers to how much value we place on ourselves and implies a degree of evaluation. The result can be positive or negative. There are several factors that affect our self-esteem. Argyle thought of four:

  • The reaction of others
  • Comparison with others
  • Social roles
  • Identification

Don’t leave without reading: The Best Advice for Increasing Your Self-Esteem

3. The ideal self

The ideal self refers to how we would like to be. Sometimes, the way we see ourselves and how we would like to see ourselves don’t coincide.

Although self-concept can be maintained over time–or is stable–it doesn’t mean that it can’t change. In fact, it’s possible to change it.

As we’ve observed, self-concept and self-esteem are related. By working on our self-concept, we can have high self-esteem. In any case, if we find ourselves with low self-esteem, it would be best to consult a psychologist.

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