My Self Concept
Who am I?
What makes up a person’s identity? Identity, also known as self-concept, is “the set of stable ideas a person has about who he or she is” (Floyd, 72). Identity has three fundamental characteristics: they are partly subjective, multifaceted, and enduring, but changeable. Partly subjective self-concepts refer to the aspects of a person that are objective. For instance, a person’s hair color, where they live, and their height, are all partly subject. They are partly subject because they can be somewhat changed; a person can dye their hair or move to a different state. A person’s self-concept is multifaceted because people are made up of several smaller selves, each one of these selves represents one part of who a person is. There are many selves that make up each person: gender, ethnicity, hobbies, occupation, and relationship. Self-concepts are enduring, but changeable because a person’s self-concept tends to not change too dramatically during a person’s adult life. Most changes happened from the age of fourteen to twenty-three; however, significant life events can alter a person’s self-concept. For instance a religious conversion, a serious illness, and/or a serious injury can cause changes in a person’s self-concept. I personally feel that my identity has been shaped by how I see myself, how others see me, and how I compare myself to others.
My identity, like all people, is multifaceted; I have many individual smaller selves that make up my larger self. My smaller selves revolve around what makes me, me; facts like I am a female, vegetarian, Caucasian, American, shy, kind, a good student, and that I have a low self-esteem. If I had to pick one of these selves that was the biggest part of me, I would have to say being a vegetarian would be the largest. Being a vegetarian has become a key part of who I am; I have been a vegetarian since I first found out that meat was a dead animal at the age of four. If I did not have all of these and more multiple selves, then I would be a completely different person, because while being a vegetarian is important to me it is not all that I am. I am also a female college student in America; if I was male I would be a different person, just the same as if I never went to college. I might end up in a permanent job at McDonalds instead of becoming a teacher. If I were not shy, then I would be more outgoing and I might have more friends. If I were not Caucasian, I might have found myself with friends of different ethnicities; for instance, if I was Spanish I might have been more drawn to make friends with more Spanish people. If I did not have multiple selves, I would be a different person and I would no longer be me.
My personality is a big part of my identity and self-concept. Personality is “the pattern of behaviors and ways of thinking that characterize a person” (Floyd 77). My personality as a shy, kind, and somewhat introverted person has been influenced heavily by reflected appraisals. A reflected appraisal is “the process whereby a person’s self-concept is influenced by his or her beliefs concerning what other people think of the person” (Floyd, 78). My reflected appraisals mainly came from my family and friends. For instance many of my friends have told me that I am a kind person, so I see myself as a kind person. Likewise my family sees me as a shy and somewhat introverted person so I call myself a shy person because I tend to be less outgoing than they are. I believe that I incorporated these aspects into my self-concept because I trust my family and friends’ judgments of my personality. My acceptance of these personality traits is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is “an expectation that gives rise to behaviors that cause the expectation to come true” (Floyd, 80). In this case I was told that I was a shy person, hence, I tend to behave like a shy person because I believe myself to be a shy person.
My self-concept has also been influenced by how I see myself in social comparison to others in my reference groups. A social comparison is, “the process of comparing oneself with others” (Floyd, 79). Reference groups are “the groups of people with whom one compares oneself in the process of social comparison” (Floyd, 79). When I compare myself to my fellow teaching academy students I come away feeling that I have low self-esteem; self-esteem is “one’s subjective evaluation of one’s values and worth as a person” (Floyd, 82). I feel this way because I am a good deal less outgoing than the other academy students and I tend to be much less social then they are. I have two or three friends whereas most everyone else has groups of friends. I am not sure that a social comparison is a healthy way to judge my self-esteem because self-esteem is more about how an individual sees themselves, but it is how I have judged myself to have a low self-esteem. I have also judged myself to be a good student based on the reference group of my high school home room. I believe myself to be a good student because I focus on my work unlike many of my class mates and I tend to have consistently better grades. I also try to manage my image so that other people also see me as a good student. Image management is “the process of projecting one’s desired public image” (Floyd, 89). I see myself as a good student with a low self-esteem due to using social comparisons within my reference groups; I also try to project the image of a good student to my friends and family.
When I look at my self-concept, I find that I am a shy person with a few good friends and a low self-esteem. I believe that my low self-esteem and my shyness both stem from the self-fulfilling prophecy; I believe myself to be a shy person with a low self-esteem so I act in such a way that makes me a shy person with a low self-esteem. I am a lot less outgoing then my family and friends and I am slow to make new friends. I have also discovered that while I do not have many friends I have a very good relationship with the ones I do have for two reasons; the first is because I find that I am good at keeping a lot of what makes up me in my open window in the Johari Window. The Johari Window is a “visual representation of components of the self that are known or unknown to the self and to others” (Floyd, 76). The Johari window is made up of four areas. The first one is the open area it consists of characteristics that are known to both me and others: I try to keep most of myself in in the open window with my friends and family. The second window is the hidden area; it is the part that I know, but others don’t. The third is the blind area; this is the spot that holds information that others know about me that I don’t know. The last area is the blind area; this is the area that holds the information that neither I nor others know. The second reason I am good at keeping a good relationship with my friends is that I tend to be good at self-disclosure; self-disclosure is “the act of giving others information about oneself that one believes they do not already have” (Floyd, 94). I personally try to practice equal reciprocation with my friends; this means that I try to give as much information about myself to them as they give to me. This leads me to have an open and trusting relationship with my friends.
My identity or self-concept is multifaceted; it is made up of many smaller selves. These smaller selves that make me myself are that I am a female, vegetarian, Caucasian, American, shy, kind, a good student, and that I have a low self-esteem. My identity has been shaped by how I see myself, how others see me, how I compare myself to others, and self-fulfilling prophecy.
Floyd, Kory. Interpersonal Communication. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.
Self Conceptions and Behavior: Carol Dweck
"1. How did you become interested in psychology?
>> Well I became a psychologist for two reasons. The first is it's the most interesting topic in the world, and the second is I loved everything in college. I loved sciences and humanities, and I thought that psychology combined the two -- you could do scientific research on people.
2. What is your current area of research?
>> My area of research is on motivation -- what makes some people thrive, even in the face of obstacles, and fulfill their potential, where other people who may be just as brilliant and talented kind of whither when they hit setbacks, and don't end up fulfilling their potential.
3. How do people perceive themselves and others if they have fixed mindsets?
>> Some people have a fixed mindset. They think their basic qualities, like their intelligence, are just fixed traits. They have only a certain amount in that set. And this makes people very concerned about documenting these traits. It makes them worry when they hit setbacks, that they don't have enough of these traits, and it makes them defensive, or in many cases helpless in the face of failures.
4. How do people differ in their perceptions if they have growth mindsets?
>> Other people have what we call a growth mindset. They believe that their most basic qualities can be developed through their efforts. They don't think everyone's the same, but they think everyone can develop, even their intelligence. And these people tend to be much more challenge seeking, undaunted in the face of obstacles, resilient, because their focus is on learning, and not proving themselves to be brilliant or talented.
5. Can individuals have mixed mindsets, depending on the task presented?
>> You can have different mindsets in different areas. There are some people who have very much a growth mindset say in athletics. They think well that's practice, and those skills can be developed. But they may have a fixed mindset with respect to intelligence or math. Other people, vice versa. So it can be quite domain-specific.
6. How do you determine who has a fixed mindset and who has a growth mindset?
>> You can determine who has a fixed or growth mindset by a set of questions that we have. Or for example, an intelligence, do you agree or disagree with the following statement? You have a certain amount of intelligence, and you can't really do much to change it. You can learn new things, but you can't change how smart you are. Or do you agree with this? Everybody, no matter who they are, can become substantially more intelligent. The first one is a fixed mindset, the second is a growth mindset.
7. Can individuals change their mindsets?
>> Well, there are interventions now, both for students and for managers. Peter Hesslin [phonetic] has developed mindset workshops for managers. And in both cases -- for students or managers -- the individual is taught that the brain is a very dynamic organ. It grows new connections every time you learn, and over time you can become quite a bit more intellectually skilled. This, along with a variety of exercises that illustrate that point contains mindsets. Another thing that we've found in our research is that praising can create different mindsets. When you praise a student's intelligence, it puts them in a fixed mindset and makes them afraid of challenges and learning. When you praise their effort or strategies, it puts them in a growth mindset, and makes them quite challenge-seeking and resilient in the face of obstacles.
8. How can praising individuals in the wrong way limit their growth and their development of self-esteem?
>> Well, you know, for a long time educators and parents thought -- and many still say that you can give children self esteem by praising their qualities, like their intelligence or their talent. And we've found quite the opposite. It boosts them for a minute, but then as soon as they hit a difficulty, their self esteem goes out the window, their enjoyment of the task goes down the drain, and their performance suffers. If you want to help your child with self esteem, or your student with self esteem, teach them how to love challenge, how to enjoy effort, how to persist in the face of obstacles, how to learn from their mistakes. Praise their efforts, strategies, and process, not their intelligence and talent.
9. Is self-esteem consistent from childhood to adulthood?
>> Self-esteem is not consistent. From childhood to adulthood, many things can intervene to change it. But I want to say that it's really better to think of self-esteem not as something a child or an adult has, but as something that they seek. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves and what we need to do is teach children to seek self-esteem in ways that enhance their learning. Not to seek self-esteem in ways that stunt their learning and not to seek self-esteem by feeling better than others or by not trying something difficult or by stopping their work in school to preserve their egos. So, we have to teach them to love effort and learning and challenges as a way to feel good about themselves rather than looking smart as a way to feel good about themselves.
10. What is personality and how does it relate to self-esteem?
>> The way I think about personality is this: Many researchers emphasize these very global traits of personality and that is one way to think about people, are they conscientious, are they agreeable, are they extroverted? But in other part of personality that I focus on are the beliefs and the belief systems that people developed. Not only is this a fundamental part of personality and not only does their belief system underline many of these broad traits, but these belief systems play an incredibly important role in how well people function in their lives. Not only that, but these beliefs can be changed to help people function better. We've changed people's beliefs about their intelligence and they function better. Other people have changed people's beliefs about relationships and they function better and the most successful therapy that we know, cognitive behavioral therapy changes people's beliefs and helps them function better. And I argue that by changing people's beliefs, you are changing their personality.
11. Has anything surprised you in your research?
>> There are a few things that have really surprised me. But I think the thing that surprises me the most is how attuned people are to the messages in their environment, so that one sentence of praise can put people in a whole different motivational framework, where they function differently. People really are asking themselves what is valued here? How should I be to succeed in this environment? And that's why I think it's incredibly important for us to design our environments to foster learning and development in people -- in schools and the workplace and home.
12. What direction do you see your research heading?
>> My research I think will always revolve around how people think about themselves and their relationships and what beliefs lead us to develop our skills and be successful in those arenas, reach our goals and the goals that we cherish. And what belief--first is what beliefs, kind of, hang us up under minor achievement, under minor relationships make us less caring and affective people"(Dweck