The image we have of ourselves is what we refer to as our self-concept. While a variety of factors contribute to the formation of this image, our interactions with the people who are essential in our life have a significant impact on it in particular.
There is also a self-perception of our abilities and individuality, and as we grow older, our self-perceptions become much more organised, detailed, and specific.
Even though self-concept has become a widely used term in the field of social psychology, it has been fundamentally developed by theorists of humanistic psychology, within which it has been considered to be the fundamental pillar for the subsequent development of the field’s various therapeutic approaches.
Components of one’s own self-concept
Alternative theoretical approaches have presented different ways of defining and thinking about self-concept, just as they have done with many other psychological concepts.
According to a theory known as the theory of social identity (which was established by Henri Tajfel in the 1970s), one’s self-concept is composed of two key components: one’s own personal identity and one’s social identity.
Our personal identity is comprised of elements such as personality traits and other qualities that distinguish one individual from the others. Social identity, on the other hand, encompasses the organisations to which we belong within our communities, religions, universities, and even within our own families.
Those who believe in social identity believe that an essential part of the self-concept that each of us internalises is constructed on the basis of belonging to particular social groups, with which we identify in order to strengthen our own identity.
Self-concept depends on a variety of factors
According to humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers, one’s self-concept is composed of three distinct components:
1. The way you present yourself, or how you appear!
It is critical to recognise that one’s self-image does not always correspond to one’s reality. Human beings are capable of having an inflated sense of self and believing that things are better than they actually are. Contrary to this, most people tend to have negative self-images and to notice or exaggerate defects or weaknesses in themselves or others.
The formation of one’s self-image is influenced by a variety of elements, including the impact of parents, friends, and colleagues, the media, and groups of belonging, among others, and is founded on a mixture of these influences.
According to the findings of the study conducted by Kuhn (1960), the answer to the question ‘Who am I?’ can be split into two major categories. Respondents were divided into two groups: those who responded based on their social roles (external aspects, vital objectives, etc.), and those who responded based on their personal characteristics (internal, affective or personality aspects).
2. Self-esteem, or how much you think you are worth!
The extent to which we like, accept, and approve of ourselves, or, in other words, how much we regard ourselves, is referred to as our level of self-esteem. Self-esteem is always associated with some level of appraisal, and as a result, it can result in either a favourable or negative perception of oneself.
A variety of circumstances, including how we compare ourselves to others and how others respond to us, can have an impact on our sense of self-worth. It is more likely that we will acquire high self-esteem if others respond favourably to our actions, and vice versa.
Based on these considerations, Argyle (2008) believes that there are four major aspects that influence one’s self-esteem:
The reactions of those around you: People who appreciate us, flatter us, seek us out, carefully listen to us, and agree with us are more likely to acquire high self-esteem than those who do not. The opposite is true if they avoid us, neglect us, or reveal things about ourselves that we do not want to hear, in which case our own evaluation will be negatively influenced.
The evaluation of oneself in relation to others: If we conclude that the people in our reference group are more successful, happy, wealthy, or beautiful than we are, we are more likely to develop a negative self-esteem; however, if we conclude that the people in our reference group are more successful, happy, wealthy, or beautiful, our self-esteem will be reinforced.
The function of the individual in society: Some societal roles, such as doctors, pilots, athletes, and presenters, are associated with a particular level of status. This, without a doubt, contributes to a high sense of self-worth. Another group of people is stigmatised for their occupations: criminals, mentally ill people, people who are out of work… The appraisal that we have of ourselves is, of course, directly influenced by our perception of ourselves.
The act of identifying: It is a dependent variable of the previous one, because it refers to the internalisation of the roles that we take on in our daily lives. It is via this process that they become a part of our personality, in the sense that we begin to identify with the positions that we hold, the roles that we perform, and the organisations to which we belong.
3. The ideal self, or how you would like to be perceived by others!
Most of the time, our current perception of ourselves and our desired perception of ourselves do not coincide. Consequently, self-concepts are not always fully matched with the facts of life.
A person’s self-congruence concepts or incongruity with reality is determined by the degree to which their self-concept coincides with reality, according to Carl Rogers.
Importance of Self-Concept in Adolescence
Simple conclusion: Self-concept is a critical aspect in the development of personality, and it is also associated with personal well-being throughout one’s life.
Developing a healthy self-concept from adolescence forward facilitates successful psychosocial adjustment and reduces the likelihood of future psychological issues and poor personal adaptability.