Deborah has 4 years of teaching experience and a master's degree in program development & management.
Definition of Sense of Self
How do you define who you are? Do you rely on the different roles and relationships you have, such as being a mother, a teacher, a soldier, or a son? Or, would you say your identity is more based on your thoughts, emotions, and knowledge of the world around you? Some people believe it is neither of those, and that the sense of self is your self-esteem. Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror? What do you think you're capable of accomplishing? All of these questions pertain to the idea of the sense of self.
In psychology, the sense of self is defined as the way a person thinks about and views his or her traits, beliefs, and purpose within the world. It's a truly dynamic and complicated concept because it covers both the 'inner' and 'outer' self. This idea can be a little bit confusing, so let's break it down further. You are living and interacting with the outside world all the time. Whether you are sitting in class, talking with a friend, or walking your dog, you're doing things that help you define your role in this world.
Why are you interested in a particular class? Why is this person considered your friend? These questions come from your mind, and it's always chatting away trying to help you form opinions and make decisions about your life. When these two come together, your sense of self begins.
Development of the Sense of Self
One of the greatest aspects of the self is that it is constantly changing. Think back to when you were five years old. Are you the same person now? Perhaps in some ways you are; maybe you have the same hobbies or interests that have followed you through life. However, you probably can't consider yourself entirely the same. The reason being: as you grow so does your sense of self.
So, what helps with this development of the self? Humanist psychologist Carl Rogers contributed a great deal to this aspect of psychology. He believed that there were three contributing components to the development of the sense of self: self-image, self-esteem, and the ideal self.
Components of Sense of Self: Self-Image
A person's self-image typically relates to how one views oneself. This includes personality traits and physical descriptions. Are you tall or short? Are you impulsive, loyal, confident, or maybe all three? It also includes your social roles. Perhaps you are a housewife or maybe you are a top-tier executive. No matter how many or how few positions you have, they all contribute to your self-image. Unfortunately, a person's self-image is not always representative of reality. A person suffering from bulimia may have the self-image that they are extremely overweight, even though that is not the truth.
Components of Sense of Self: Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is how you view and value yourself. Do you believe in yourself and love who you are? Or, do you wish that you were someone else? How you answer these questions is a good measure of how much you value who you are. Perhaps you want to be prettier or smarter. If you firmly believe that your glass is half empty or that the grass is greener in everybody else's yard, you may have a low self-esteem. If you are happy with who you are and believe that you are contributing something positive to the world, you most likely have high self-esteem. A person with high self-esteem feels confident and worthy, while a person with low self-esteem often experiences feelings of uncertainty and insufficiency.
Components of Sense of Self: Ideal Self
The ideal self refers to the person that you want to be, and it is a crucial part of self-development. Self-esteem and self-image affect the evolution of the self, but the ideal self drives us forward. The relationship between the three is paramount and can influence the outcome of your life. Let's look at an example.
Perhaps you always saw yourself being a wealthy CEO of a company, but you lacked the education. You have a high self-esteem and believe you have what it takes to be the CEO of a business. You also have a positive self-image and are confident because you have experience and many connections within the community. Your self-esteem and self-image mixed with the vision of your ideal self inspires you to go back to school to learn.
Now, your ideal self is not always consistent with real life or your real self. This is who you truly are and not who you strive to be. You may go back to school and never become a powerful CEO. To someone with low self-esteem or self-image, one may view this as a failure. However, a person with high self-esteem and self-image may just change her expectations. Perhaps someone ends up opening and managing her own small, but successful business. She may not be a CEO of a huge corporation, but she is still the boss of something she cares for. This mentality could lead someone to an entirely new perception of self and possibly a new ideal self.
The sense of self is defined as how a person views his or her traits, beliefs, and purpose within the world. This concept is something that changes and evolves with a person throughout their entire life. Humanist psychologist Carl Rogers believed that the development of the self has three contributing factors: self-image (how one views oneself), self-esteem (how one values oneself), and the ideal self (the person one wants to be).
Sense of Self in Psychology Key Terms
- Sense of self: how a person views his or her traits, beliefs, and purpose within the world
- Carl Rogers: humanist psychologist contributed to this aspect of psychology of three contributing components - self-image, self-esteem, and the ideal self
- Self-image: relates to how one views oneself
- Self-esteem: how you value yourself
- Ideal self : refers to the person that you want to be, crucial to self-development
By the end of this lesson, students should be able to accomplish these tasks:
- Define sense of self in psychology
- Identify Carl Rogers' three components to sense of self
- Detail what makes up self-image, self-esteem and the ideal self
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Sense Of Self in Psychology: Definition & Development Quiz
Instructions: Choose an answer and click 'Next'. You will receive your score and answers at the end.
Which of the following is true about the sense of self?
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