Tchiki Davis, Ph.D.

What Is Self-Concept and Why Does It Matter?

Learn about your self-concept and how it affects well-being..

Posted September 1, 2021 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Our self-concept is the image we have of our bodies, capabilities, impressions, etc. (Bailey, 2003). It includes:

  • The material self. Our body, possessions, and other things in our lives.
  • The interpersonal self. The views others hold about us.
  • The intrapersonal self. Our emotions, desires, needs, values, etc. (Epstein, 1973)

Research psychologists noticed that the way we see ourselves is often similar to the way others see us. This finding is referred to as the looking-glass self (Epstein, 1973). This research taught us that much of our self-concept emerges from the social interactions we have with others. Our 'self' emerges based on the information others tell us about who we are.

Our self-concept also includes the self-awareness that we are part of categories based on our age, gender , race, etc. Some people theorize that self-concept is like the glue that holds all the pieces of our personality together. And, at its most basic, self-concept is the answer we give when asked the question "Who am I?"

Why Does the Self-Concept Matter?

Each of us has parts of ourselves that we believe are the most important (Epstein, 1973). For example, an athlete might view their athleticism to be of central importance to their self-concept, even though they also enjoy cooking and are part of a big family. Some have even suggested that the self is arranged hierarchically, with relatively important parts above less important parts. But each of us decides which parts are important to us.

​As we experience new things and gain additional information from others, the self-concept may determine which new aspects of personality are acceptable. If new parts don't jibe with the old parts, they may not be allowed, thus ensuring that our sense of self remains reliable and intact (Epstein, 1973). As we grow older, contradictory evidence may have less impact on our self-concept. So it can become harder to integrate external information, particularly if it disrupts important aspects of the self-concept.

How Does Self-Concept Relate to Well-Being?

Several aspects of the self-concept also play a role in well-being . These include:

  • Self-image: The way you see yourself.
  • Self-esteem (or self-worth): The extent to which you value yourself or believe you have worth.
  • Ideal self: The vision you have of your best self.

Self-image ​

The terms self-image and self-concept are sometimes used interchangeably, but more often, self-image is defined as how you see yourself. This may be literal, like when looking in the mirror. But it can also involve mental representations of yourself. These may or may not be consistent with what one actually sees in the mirror.

Self-esteem (or self-worth)

Self-esteem is broadly defined as the extent to which we like or value ourselves. This generally includes evaluating two parts of ourselves (Tafarodi & Swann Jr, 2001):

  • Intrinsic value. This refers to our belief that we are a good (or not-so-good) person. If we have intrinsic value, then we value ourselves just for being who we are. This is also sometimes thought of as the extent to which we like ourselves.
  • Instrumental value. This refers to our belief that we can do good things. If we have instrumental value, then we value ourselves because of the things we do. This is also sometimes thought of as the extent to which we respect ourselves.

The ideal self is defined as the self we would like to be—our best self. It appears to originate from the ideal selves that our parents hold for us and communicate to us through childhood (Zentner & Renaud, 2007).

​In positive psychology, the ideal self is thought to include three parts (Boyatzis, & Akrivou, 2006):

importance of self concept essay

  • The image of our desired future. This may include dreams , aspirations, and goals .
  • Hope. This includes self-efficacy and optimism (beliefs that we can indeed achieve our goals).
  • A clear self-concept. This includes an understanding of our core identity and enduring traits. Our ideal self needs to fit with our values, beliefs, and who we are.

Our ideal self is a vision of what we could be or do. That's why the ideal self is thought to be a helpful motivator—it inspires us to progress toward goals and improve our lives in beneficial ways. It may also include aspirations, passions, dreams, and purpose—all things that tend to be good for our well-being.

Our self-concept is an important guiding principle that helps us navigate the world and understand our role in it. Parts of our self-concept may be good or not-so-good for our well-being. That's why learning more about our own self-concept can be beneficial.

Adapted from an article published by The Berkeley Well-Being Institute .

​Bailey 2nd, J. A. (2003). Self-image, self-concept, and self-identity revisited. Journal of the National Medical Association, 95(5), 383.

​Boyatzis, R. E., & Akrivou, K. (2006). The ideal self as the driver of intentional change. Journal of management development.

Epstein, S. (1973). The self-concept revisited: Or a theory of a theory. American psychologist, 28(5), 404.

​Tafarodi, R. W., & Swann Jr, W. B. (2001). Two-dimensional self-esteem: Theory and measurement. Personality and individual Differences, 31(5), 653-673.

​Zentner, M., & Renaud, O. (2007). Origins of adolescents' ideal self: An intergenerational perspective. Journal of personality and social psychology, 92(3), 557​

Tchiki Davis, Ph.D.

Tchiki Davis, Ph.D. , is a consultant, writer, and expert on well-being technology.

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What Is Self-Concept?

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

importance of self concept essay

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

importance of self concept essay

Verywell / Cindy Chung 

  • Development
  • Can It Be Changed?
  • Self-Concept Theories

Frequently Asked Questions

Self-concept is the image we have of ourselves. It is influenced by many forces, including our interaction with important people in our lives. It is how we perceive our behaviors, abilities, and unique characteristics. For example, beliefs such as "I am a good friend" or "I am a kind person" are part of an overall self-concept.

Other examples of self-concept include:

  • How you view your personality traits, such as whether you are an extrovert or introvert
  • How you see your roles in life, such as whether you feel that being a parent, sibling, friend, and partner are important parts of your identity
  • The hobbies or passions that are important to your sense of identity, such as being a sports enthusiast or belonging to a certain political party
  • How you feel about your interactions with the world, such as whether you feel that you are contributing to society

Our self-perception is important because it affects our motivations , attitudes, and behaviors . It also affects how we feel about the person we think we are, including whether we are competent or have self-worth.

Self-concept tends to be more malleable when we're younger and still going through self-discovery and identity formation . As we age and learn who we are and what's important to us, these self-perceptions become much more detailed and organized.

At its most basic, self-concept is a collection of beliefs one holds about oneself and the responses of others. It embodies the answer to the question: " Who am I? " If you want to find your self-concept, list things that describe you as an individual. What are your traits? What do you like? How do you feel about yourself?

Rogers' Three Parts of Self-Concept

Humanist psychologist  Carl Rogers believed that self-concept is made up of three different parts:

  • Ideal self : The ideal self is the person you want to be. This person has the attributes or qualities you are either working toward or want to possess. It's who you envision yourself to be if you were exactly as you wanted.
  • Self-image : Self-image refers to how you see yourself at this moment in time. Attributes like physical characteristics, personality traits , and social roles all play a role in your self-image.
  • Self-esteem : How much you like, accept, and value yourself all contribute to your self-concept. Self-esteem can be affected by a number of factors—including how others see you, how you think you compare to others, and your role in society.

Incongruence and Congruence

Self-concept is not always aligned with reality. When it is aligned, your self-concept is said to be congruent . If there is a mismatch between how you see yourself (your self-image) and who you wish you were (your ideal self), your self-concept is incongruent . This incongruence can negatively affect self-esteem .

Rogers believed that incongruence has its earliest roots in childhood. When parents place conditions on their affection for their children (only expressing love if children "earn it" through certain behaviors and living up to the parents' expectations), children begin to distort the memories of experiences that leave them feeling unworthy of their parents' love.

Unconditional love, on the other hand, helps to foster congruence. Children who experience such love—also referred to as family love —feel no need to continually distort their memories in order to believe that other people will love and accept them as they are.

How Self-Concept Develops

Self-concept develops, in part, through our interaction with others. In addition to family members and close friends, other people in our lives can contribute to our self-identity.

For instance, one study found that the more a teacher believes in a high-performing student's abilities, the higher that student's self-concept. (Interestingly, no such association was found with lower-performing students.)

Self-concept can also be developed through the stories we hear. As an example, one study found that female readers who were "deeply transported" into a story about a leading character with a traditional gender role had a more feminist self-concept than those who weren't as moved by the story.

The media plays a role in self-concept development as well—both mass media and social media . When these media promote certain ideals, we're more likely to make those ideals our own. And the more often these ideals are presented, the more they affect our self-identity and self-perception.

Can Self-Concept Be Changed?

Self-concept is not static, meaning that it can change. Our environment plays a role in this process. Places that hold a lot of meaning to us actively contribute to our future self-concept through both the way we relate these environments to ourselves and how society relates to them.

Self-concept can also change based on the people with whom we interact. This is particularly true with regard to individuals in our lives who are in leadership roles. They can impact the collective self (the self in social groups) and the relational self (the self in relationships).

In some cases, a medical diagnosis can change self-concept by helping people understand why they feel the way they do—such as someone receiving an autism diagnosis later in life, finally providing clarity as to why they feel different.

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Other Self-Concept Theories

As with many topics within psychology , a number of other theorists have proposed different ways of thinking about self-concept.

Social Identity

Social psychologist Henri Tajfel developed social identity theory, which states that self-concept is composed of two key parts:

  • Personal identity : The traits and other characteristics that make you unique
  • Social identity : Who you are based on your membership in social groups, such as sports teams, religions, political parties, or social class

This theory states that our social identity influences our self-concept, thus affecting our emotions and behaviors. If we're playing sports, for instance, and our team loses a game, we might feel sad for the team (emotion) or act out against the winning team (behavior).

Multiple Dimensions

Psychologist Bruce A. Bracken had a slightly different theory and believed that self-concept was multidimensional, consisting of six independent traits:

  • Academic : Success or failure in school
  • Affect : Awareness of emotional states
  • Competence : Ability to meet basic needs
  • Family : How well you work in your family unit
  • Physical : How you feel about your looks, health, physical condition, and overall appearance
  • Social : Ability to interact with others

In 1992, Bracken developed the Multidimensional Self-Concept Scale, a comprehensive assessment that evaluates each of these six elements of self-concept in children and adolescents.

Self-concept development is never finished. Though one's self-identity is thought to be primarily formed in childhood, your experiences as an adult can also change how you feel about yourself. If your self-esteem increases later in life, for instance, it can improve your self-concept.

Our self-concept can affect the method by which we communicate. If you feel you are a good writer, for instance, you may prefer to communicate in writing versus speaking with others.

It can also affect the way we communicate. If your social group communicates a certain way, you would likely choose to communicate that way as well. Studies on teens have connected high self-concept clarity with more open communication with parents.

Self-concept refers to a broad description of ourselves ("I am a good writer") while self-esteem includes any judgments or opinions we have of ourselves ("I feel proud to be a good writer"). Put another way, self-concept answers the question: Who am I? Self-esteem answers the question: How do I feel about who I am?

Our self-concept impacts how we respond to life, so a well-developed self-concept helps us respond in ways that are more positive and beneficial for us. One of the ways it does this is by enabling us to recognize our worth. A well-developed self-concept also helps keep us from internalizing negative feedback from others.

Different cultures have different beliefs. They have different ideas of how dependent or independent one should be, different religious beliefs, and differing views of socioeconomic development.

All of these cultural norms influence self-concept by providing the structure of what is expected within that society and how one sees oneself in relation to others.

Bailey JA 2nd. Self-image, self-concept, and self-identity revisited . J Natl Med Assoc . 2003;95(5):383-386.

Mercer S. Self-concept: Situating the self . In: Mercer S, Ryan S, Williams M, eds. Psychology for Language Learning . Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/9781137032829_2

Argyle M. Social encounters: Contributions to Social Interaction . 1st ed . Routledge.

Koch S. Formulations of the person and the social context . In: Psychology: A study of a science. Vol. III. McGraw-Hill:184-256.

Pesu L, Viljaranta J, Aunola K. The role of parents' and teachers' beliefs in children's self-concept development . J App Develop Psychol . 2016;44:63-71. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2016.03.001

Richter T, Appel M, Calio F. Stories can influence the self-concept . Social Influence . 2014;9(3):172-88. doi:10.1080/15534510.2013.799099

Vandenbosch L, Eggermont S. The interrelated roles of mass media and social media in adolescents' development of an objectified self-concept: A longitudinal study . Communc Res . 2015. doi:10.1177/0093650215600488

Prince D. What about place? Considering the role of physical environment on youth imagining of future possible selves . J Youth Stud . 2014;17(6):697-716. doi:10.1080/13676261.2013.836591

Kark R, Shamir B. The dual effect of transformational leadership: priming relational and collective selves and further effects on followers . In: Avolio BJ, Yammarino FJ, eds.  Monographs in Leadership and Management . Vol 5. Emerald Group Publishing Limited; 2013:77-101. doi:10.1108/S1479-357120130000005010

Stagg SD, Belcher H. Living with autism without knowing: receiving a diagnosis in later life . Health Psychol Behav Med . 2019;7(1):348-361. doi:10.1080/21642850.2019.1684920

Tajfel H, Turner J. An integrative theory of intergroup conflict . In: Hogg MA, Abrams D, eds.  Intergroup Relations: Essential Readings. Psychology Press:94–109.

Scheepers D. Social identity theory . Social Psychol Act . 2019. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-13788-5_9

Bracken BA. Multidimensional Self Concept Scale . American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/t01247-000

Sampthirao P. Self-concept and interpersonal communication . Int J Indian Psychol . 2016;3(3):6. dip:18.01.115/20160303

Van Dijk M, Branje S, Keijsers L, Hawk S, Hale !, Meeus W. Self-concept clarity across adolescence: Longitudinal associations with open communication with parents and internalizing symptoms . J Youth Adolesc . 2013;43:1861-76. doi:10.1007/s10964-013-0055-x

Vignoles V, Owe E, Becker M, et al. Beyond the 'east-west' dichotomy: Global variation in cultural models of selfhood . J Exp Psychol Gen . 2016;145(8):966-1000. doi:10.1037/xge0000175

Weiten W, Dunn DS, Hammer EY. Psychology Applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century . Cengage Learning.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

Higher Self Concepts

What Is Self Concept and Why Is It Important?

  • > Articles , Mindset , Philosophy
  • June 24, 2020

“Who are you?”

We’re all very familiar with this question and may have asked this on more than one occasion. A question holds deep meaning that you can get many different answers from asking this to the same person over and over again. What makes this question so profound is because this directly touches on how we perceive ourselves, which can change over time the more we discover ourselves and the world around us. This question seeks an answer from our self-awareness, our self-concept.

While many people can declare that they have a good perception of themselves, not all of them are aware of how their understanding of themselves affects everything in their lives. In this article, we will be explaining the idea of self-concept in great detail and hopefully help you have a deeper understanding of yourself.

Table of Contents

What do you mean by self-concept.

The term “self-concept” generally means our perception of who we are as a person. It includes how you perceive your identity, behavior, skills, and other unique characteristics. 

While the idea itself is easy to grasp, how it impacts our lives can sometimes go beyond our understanding. It is because our self-concept heavily influences our thoughts, emotions, and actions of our daily living. And by allowing yourself to define who you think you are, you understand your place in this world.

To better understand this thought, we need to know what are some examples of self-concept and how this thought process can affect our interactions with the world.

When a person identifies himself as a rebellious spirit, for example, he can consciously or unconsciously resist other people’s expectations, opinions, and orders. At the same time, they want to find a part of the society where they belong, which is most likely a group of people with the same mindset. Self-concept acts as a filter on how we interact with our surroundings and how we let our surroundings affect us based on the identity that we’ve recognized in ourselves.

So far, we’ve just defined “self-concept” at its face value. But to broaden our understanding of this further, we also need to view this from a scientific perspective. The idea of self-concept is significant in the fields of humanistic and social psychology. 

Lewis’ Two Aspects of Self-Concept

Psychologist Michael Lewis  (1990) proposed that the self-concept is developed by these two aspects:

  • The existential self . Our existential self is the sense that you are a separate and distinct entity from others and that you are constant. This sense is widely accepted as the basic, if not the first, part of self-concept as it can be developed during the early months of a person’s life.
  • The categorical self . After the development of the existential self, you realize that even though you are a separate and distinct entity, you are still an object of the world. That alongside you are other objects and entities of the world existing with you at the same time.

Each object of this world has its own “properties” which we can categorize. How you classify yourself based on your properties is called the categorical self.

These properties may be something that you can experience physically (size, color, texture), or emotionally (feelings and mood). Using these properties as a basis, it allows you to categorize yourself according to gender (male or female), age (29 years old), feelings (hunger), mood (ecstatic) and so on.

However, how you categorize yourself is ever-changing as it can be affected by other references such as any changes to your self-evaluation, comparisons, and feedback from other people. 

What Are the Three Components of Self-Concept, According to Carl Rogers?

Another psychologist from an earlier generation,  Carl Rogers  (1959), proposed a humanistic approach for the idea of self-concept. According to him, three components make up our self-concept.

Namely, these are self-esteem or self-worth, self-image, and the ideal self.

At a glance, it may be difficult to understand the fine line between self-concept and its components. Especially true for the comparison of self-concept vs self-esteem. However, Rogers successfully defined the meaning and the difference between these concepts.

Self-esteem refers to how much we value ourselves, or what we feel we are “worth”. This is based on the extent of how much we like what we see in ourselves and accept how we are. Hence, self-esteem always involves some degree of appraisal of ourselves and can have both a positive or negative impact on our self-concept.

Self-image is simply how you see yourself. A person’s self-image is the combination of multiple attributes such as physical qualities, personality traits, social roles, and feedback from others. However, this does not necessarily coincide with reality. Some people may have exaggerated images of themselves in their heads or believe in a personal flaw that does not exist.

Lastly, the ideal self is the idea of what kind of person you would like to be. A person’s goal for their ideal selves are always changing, regardless if it is achieved or not. 

Congruence and Incongruence.

So how exactly do these three components affect one another? And how do they collectively affect your self-concept?

importance of self concept essay

When a person’s ideal self and their experienced self-image are consistent and have a high degree of similarity, congruence is present. And the higher your congruence is, the higher your self-esteem becomes. This leads to you having a positive self-concept and makes it possible for you to reach self-actualization. 

Realistically speaking, our image of ourselves is not always aligned with how we want to be (our ideal self) and that is perfectly normal as most of us tend to distort reality to a certain extent. Hence, all people can experience some degree of incongruence with their self-concept.  

On the other hand, when what you’ve experienced in reality only has little to almost no match to your visualized ideal self, a state of incongruence exists. In this state, a person can find their experience from reality unsatisfactory, which in turn distorts their self-image. As we prefer to see ourselves close to our visualized self-image, incongruence may cause us to use our defense mechanisms (denial, anger, bargaining, repression) as the truth can make us feel hurt and threatened.

Rogers also believed that a person’s experience during early childhood plays a significant role in the development of congruence and incongruence during the later stages of life.

He suggested that incongruence is developed when parents place a condition on their affection for their children, making their affection comparable to a reward system. This is called conditional positive regard. Children who grew up with this kind of treatment learn at an early age that they will not be loved for who they are, but only when they behave in a way that’s acceptable for other people. 

On the other hand, children who’ve experienced unconditional positive regard or “love” from their parents easily fostered congruence. As they feel loved regardless of who they are, they often do not feel the need to change themselves to gain the acceptance of their parents. They also do not feel that anything positive (affection, condition, or material things) will be taken away from them if they make any mistakes.

There are other theories out there that offer to expound what self-concept is. But regardless of whichever theory is more acceptable to you, it doesn’t change the fact that how you view yourself directly affects you and the others around you.

A heightened self-concept impacts your knowledge about your self. At the same time, it helps you become more aware of both your strengths and flaws. This deep understanding and acceptance of yourself allows you to be true to yourself and express yourself wholeheartedly to others. And most importantly, it grants you a realistic perspective on who you currently are and where you are heading, allowing you to self-actualize and realize your full potential. 

“What I do is the truest mirror of who I am.”

–Craig D. Lounsbrough

The benefits of having a positive concept of yourself are not just limited to your psychological and social aspects.  It can produce a holistic effect on your wellbeing. Doing some reality checks from time to time and having a ‘‘down to earth” mentality can do your self-esteem a favor.

How close is your self-image to your ideal self? We’d love to hear it!

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My very first thought when I became aware of my very own consciousness in this earthly world was... "whoa... why are we here? what's the meaning or purpose to life?" I was never able to shake these questions... So come join me on my podcast of rants on many different topics that will assist you in seeing things through a rose-colored lens and on living a life of well-being.

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What is Self-Concept Theory? A Psychologist Explains

What is Self-Concept Theory in Psychology? Definition + Examples (PDF)

You might answer with “ I’m a mother ,” or, “ I’m a therapist, ” or maybe, “ I’m a believer, ” “ I’m a good friend, ” “ I’m a brother. ”

Maybe you answer with, “ I am excellent at my job, ” “ I’m an accomplished musician, ” or “ I’m a successful athlete. ”

Other responses might fall into the category of traits: “ I’m a kind-hearted person, ” “ I’m intelligent and hard-working, ” or “ I’m laid-back and easy-going. ”

These responses come from your internal sense of who you are. This sense is developed early in life, but it goes through constant evaluation and adjustment throughout the lifespan.

In psychology, this sense of self has a specific term: self-concept.

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our three Self-Compassion Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will not only help you understand and show more compassion and kindness to yourself but will also give you the tools to help your clients, students or employees improve their self-compassion.

This Article Contains:

What is self-concept a definition, self-concept theory, the components and elements of the self-concept model, the development stages of self-concept, 10 examples of self-concept, research on self-concept, measuring self-concept with scales, tests, and inventories, self-concept activities and lesson plans for preschoolers and older students (pdf), self-concept worksheets (pdf), 8 quotes on self-concept, a take-home message.

Self-concept is an overarching idea we have about who we are—physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and in terms of any other aspects that make up who we are (Neill, 2005). We form and regulate our self-concept as we grow, based on the knowledge we have about ourselves. It is multidimensional, and can be broken down into these individual aspects.

For example, you may have a very different idea of who you are in terms of your physical body, and who you are in terms of your spirit or soul.

The influential self-efficacy researcher Roy Baumeister (1999) defines self-concept as follows:

“The individual’s belief about himself or herself, including the person’s attributes and who and what the self is.”

A similar definition comes from Rosenberg’s 1979 book on the topic; he says self-concept is:

“…the totality of an individual’s thoughts and feelings having reference to himself as an object.”

Self-concept is related to several other “self” constructs, such as self-esteem, self-image, self-efficacy, and self-awareness. In the following section, we will explain these slight—yet important—differences.

Self-Concept vs. Self-Esteem

Self-concept is not self-esteem, although self-esteem may be a part of self-concept. Self-concept is the perception that we have of ourselves, our answer when we ask ourselves the question “Who am I?”

It is knowing about one’s own tendencies, thoughts, preferences and habits, hobbies, skills, and areas of weakness. According to Carl Rogers, founder of client-centered therapy , self-concept is an overarching construct that self-esteem is one of the components of it (McLeod, 2008).

Self-Concept vs. Self-Image

Self-image is related to self-concept but is less broad. Self-image is how an individual sees themselves, and it does not have to align with reality.

A person’s self-image is based on how they see themselves, while self-concept is a more comprehensive evaluation of the self, largely based on how a person sees themselves, values themselves, thinks about themselves, and feels about themselves.

Carl Rogers posited that self-image is a component of self-concept, along with self-esteem or self-worth and one’s “ideal self” (McLeod, 2008).

Self-Concept vs. Self-Efficacy

Self-concept is a more complex construct than self-efficacy. While self-efficacy refers to an individual’s judgments of their own abilities, self-concept is more general and includes both cognitive (thoughts about) and affective (feelings about) judgments about oneself (Bong & Clark, 1999).

Self-Concept vs. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness also influences self-concept. It is the quality or trait that involves conscious awareness of one’s own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and traits (Cherry, 2018A). To have a fully developed self-concept (and one that is based in reality), a person must have at least some level of self-awareness .

We explore this further in The Science of Self-Acceptance Masterclass© .

Self-Concept vs. Self-Image

Generally, theorists agree on the following points:

  • On the broadest level, self-concept is the overall idea we have about who we are and includes cognitive and affective judgments about ourselves;
  • Self-concept is multi-dimensional, incorporating our views of ourselves in terms of several different aspects (e.g., social, religious, spiritual, physical, emotional);
  • It is learned, not inherent;
  • It is influenced by biological and environmental factors, but social interaction plays a big role as well;
  • Self-concept develops through childhood and early adulthood when it is more easily changed or updated;
  • It can be changed in later years, but it is more of an uphill battle since people have established ideas about who they are;
  • Self-concept does not always align with reality. When it does, our self-concept is “congruent.” When it doesn’t, our self-concept is “incongruent.”

Identity and Self-Concept Theory in Psychology vs. Self-Concept in Sociology

Both psychology and sociology share an interest in self-concept, but they use slightly different ways to explore it. Individual researchers vary, of course, but generally, the divide can be thought of in these terms:

  • Sociology/social psychology focuses on how self-concept develops, specifically within the context of the individual’s social environment.
  • Psychology focuses on how self-concept impacts people (Gecas, 1982).

There are other differences between the two, including psychology’s general focus on the individual versus sociology’s focus on the group, community, or society; however, this difference in focus has led to two diverse research streams. Both have resulted in great insights and interesting findings, and they sometimes overlap, but this divide can still be seen in the literature today.

Carl Rogers and the Self-Concept Theory of Personality

Famed psychologist, theorist, and clinician Carl Rogers posited a theory of how self-concept influences and, indeed, acts as the framework for, one’s personality.

The image we have of who we are contributes to our personality, and our actions—combined with our personality —create a feedback loop into our image of ourselves. Rogers believed that our personality is driven by our desire for self-actualization . This is the condition that emerges when we reach our full potential and our self-concept, self-worth, and ideal self all overlap (Journal Psyche, n.d.).

How we develop our personalities and self-concepts varies, thus creating the unique individuals we are. According to Rogers, we always strive for self-actualization, some with more success than others.

How do people go about striving for self-actualization and congruence? This relates to the idea of how anyone “maintains” their idea of themselves. We explore that next.

Self-Concept Maintenance Theory

Self-Concept and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Self-concept maintenance refers to how people maintain or enhance their sense of self. It is relatively fixed after a person reaches adulthood, but it can—and does—change based on the person’s experiences.

The theory of self-concept maintenance states that we do not simply sit and wait for our self-concept to develop: we take an active role in shaping our self-concept at all ages (whether we are aware of this or not).

Although there are different theories about the processes of self-concept maintenance, it generally concerns:

  • Our evaluations of ourselves
  • Our comparison of our actual selves with our ideal selves
  • Our actions taken to move closer to our ideal selves (Munoz, 2012).

This may seem like a pretty logical and straightforward process, but we tend to give ourselves room for moral ambiguity. For example, a study by Mazar, Amir, and Ariely (2007) showed that people will generally engage in beneficial dishonesty when given the opportunity. However, these same people might not revise their self-concept to incorporate this dishonesty.

When participants in the study were prompted to be more aware of their internal standards for honesty , they were less likely to engage in beneficial dishonesty; on the other hand, when given a “degrees of freedom” (greater separation between their actions and the rewards they would receive for dishonesty), they were more likely to engage in dishonesty—with no impact to their self-concept.

This is one example of the work on self-concept maintenance, as humans constantly assess themselves and their moral code since it influences their identity and actions.

Self-Concept Clarity and Self-Concept Differentiation

Self-concept clarity is different from self-concept.

Self-concept clarity (SCC) refers to how clear, confident, and consistent an individual’s definitions of themselves are (Diehl & Hay, 2011). Self-concept differentiation (SCD) refers to how an individual’s self-representation may vary across contexts or social roles (e.g., self as a spouse, self as a parent, self as a student).

SCC and SCD are hot topics in psychology since they influence thought patterns and behavior.

Higher SCC indicates a firmer and more stable self-concept, while low SCC indicates that an individual is unclear or vague about who they really are. Those with low SCC may struggle with low self-esteem, self-consciousness, and neuroticism.

SCD is not as clear-cut. Having a high SCD may be viewed as a bad thing, but it can also be an effective coping mechanism for succeeding in the modern world where individuals have many different roles. If SCD is very high, it might mean that the individual does not have a stable self-concept and “wears a different mask” for each of their roles.

A very low level of SCD may indicate that the individual is authentically “them” across all of their roles—although it may also indicate that he cannot effectively switch from one role to another (Diehl & Hay, 2011).

Essentially, people who differentiate their roles slightly, yet maintain a clear image of themselves, may succeed most at finding balance in their identity and image.

The Components and Elements of the Self-Concept Model

There are different ideas about what self-concept consists of, and how it should be defined; however, there are some characteristics and dimensions that apply to the basic, agreed-upon conceptualization of self-concept.

Characteristics of Self-Concept

As a brief review, self-concept is the perspective we have on who we are. Each of us has a unique self-concept, different from the self-concept of others and from their concept of us.

However, there are some characteristics that all of our self-concepts have in common.


  • Displays uniquely with each person.
  • Vary from very positive to very negative.
  • Carries emotional, intellectual, and functional dimensions.
  • Changes with the context.
  • Changes over time.
  • Influence the individual’s life (Delmar Learning, n.d.)

Dimensions of Self-Concept

Different dimensions may constitute different kinds of self-concept; for example, the dimensions that create “academic self-efficacy” will not have as much overlap with “social self-efficacy.”

There are some overarching dimensions that researchers understand with the self-concept puzzle. These dimensions include:

  • Self-esteem
  • Self-image (physical)
  • Identities or roles (social)
  • Personal traits and qualities (Elliot, 1984; Gecas, 1982)

importance of self concept essay

Early childhood is a ripe time for young humans to perceive themselves in the world.

The Formation of Self-Concept During Early Childhood

There are three general stages of self-concept development during early childhood:

  • Stage 1 : 0 to 2 years-old a. Babies need consistent, loving relationships to develop a positive sense of self. b. Babies form preferences that align with their innate sense of self. c. Toddlers feel secure with gentle but firm limits d. At age two, language skill develops and toddlers have a sense of “me.”
  • Stage 2 : 3 to 4 years-old a. Three and four-year-olds begin to see themselves as separate and unique individuals. b. Their self-images tend to be descriptive rather than prescriptive or judgmental. c. Preschoolers are increasingly independent and curious about what they can do.
  • Stage 3 : 5 to 6 years-old a. They are transitioning from the “me” stage to the “us” stage, where they are more aware of the needs and interests of the larger group. b. Kindergarteners can use their words to communicate their wants, needs, and feelings. c. Five and six-year-olds can use even more advanced language to help define themselves within the context of the group (Miller, Church, & Poole, n.d.).

Self-Concept in Middle Childhood

During middle childhood (about 7 to 11 years old), children are beginning to develop a sense of their social selves and figuring out how they fit in with everyone else. They reference social groups and make social comparisons more often, and begin to think about how others see them.

Other characteristics of their self-concept at this stage include:

  • More balanced, less all-or-none descriptions
  • Development of the ideal and real self
  • Descriptions of the self by competencies instead of specific behaviors
  • Development of a personal sense of self (Berk, 2004)

Culture begins to play a big role at this stage, but we’ll talk more about that later.

The Development of Self-Concept in Adolescence

Adolescence is where the development of one’s self-concept really explodes.

This is the stage in which individuals (about age 12-18) play with their sense of self, including a time when they experiment with their identity, compare themselves with others, and develop the basis of a self-concept that may stay with them the rest of their life.

During this period, adolescents are prone to greater self-consciousness and susceptibility to the influence of their peers and chemical changes happening in the brain (Sebastian, Burnett, & Blakemore, 2008).

They enjoy greater freedom and independence, engage in increasingly competitive activities, compare themselves with their peers, and can value (even over-value) the perspective of others (Manning, 2007).

In adolescence, there are two important factors that influence self-concept and self-worth:

  • Success in areas in which the adolescent desires success
  • Approval from significant people in the adolescent’s life (Manning, 2007).

importance of self concept essay

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You may have a good handle on what self-concept is but these examples can help explain it more.

Self-concepts are rarely all positive or all negative; someone may have both positive and some negative self-concepts in different domains (e.g., a husband who thinks of himself as a good father but sees his physical self as out-of-shape and unhealthy or a student who think so themselves as a great athlete who struggles academically).

Some examples of positive self-concepts include:

  • A person sees herself as an intelligent person;
  • A man perceives himself as an important member of his community;
  • A woman sees herself as an excellent spouse and friend;
  • A person thinks of himself as a nurturing and caring person;
  • A person views herself as a hard-working and competent employee.

On the flip side, these people could have negative self-concepts like:

  • A person sees herself as stupid and slow;
  • A man perceives himself as expendable and a burden on his community;
  • A woman sees herself as a terrible spouse and friend;
  • A person thinks of himself as a cold and unapproachable person;
  • A person views herself as a lazy and incompetent employee.

We all have many of these mini or domain-specific self-concepts that encompass our self-concept. Some may be more positive or negative than others, and each is an important piece of what makes us who we are.

Self concept, self identity and social identity – Khan Academy

Given the marked interest in this topic within sociology and psychology, there is quite a bit of research out there on the subject. Here are a few of the most interesting and impactful findings on self-concept.

Self-Concept in Marketing and How it Influences Consumer Behavior

It probably won’t shock you that the idea of self-concept has made its way into marketing—after all, brands and companies can profit from targeting certain desirable identities. In fact, it is the basis of fashion and consumerism.

Our self-concept influences our wants and needs, and can also shape our behavior. Whether it is true or not, we tend to believe that our purchases will help establish our identity. There is a reason why people buy certain clothing, cars, etc.

And this idea has a name: self-concept attachment.

Self-Concept Attachment

Self-concept attachment refers to the attachment we form to a product as it influences identity. For example, someone who loves their Patagonia jacket may also consider it as a status symbol that also represents their “outdoorsy” side.

Thus, this jacket has a strong self-concept attachment, in addition to its purpose of providing warmth.

Surprisingly, consumers become more attached to a brand when the brands match their “actual selves” rather than their ideal selves (Malär, Krohmer, Hoyer, & Nyffenegger, 2011). We tend to identify more with brands that “meet us where we are” rather than trying to connect with our higher, ideal selves.

Companies understand this and work to (1) get to know their target consumers better, and (2) mold their brand identity to match the self-concept of their consumers. The more they can get consumers to identify with their brand, the more they will buy that brand.

How Does Self-Concept Affect Interpersonal Communication?

Think about a cycle in which we develop, maintain, and revise our self-concept: we have an idea of who we are, and we act in accordance with that self-concept. Consequently, others form an idea about who we are, and they react in accordance with their idea of who we are, thus impacting our idea of who we are.

This feedback loop continues to shape us, and interpersonal communication plays a big role here.

Our self-concept drives our motivations, methods, and experiences with communicating with others. For example, if you see yourself as someone who is always right (or who must always be right), you may struggle in communicating with others when disagreements arise.

If that need is accompanied by an acceptance of aggression, you may use hostility, assertiveness , and argumentativeness to attack the self-concepts of the people you are debating instead of discussing their positions (Infante & Wigley, 1986).

Communication on social media is also a determinant and an outcome of an individual’s self-concept.

Sponcil and Gitimu (2012) suggested that, in general, the more friends an individual has on social networking sites, the more positively they feel about themselves as a whole. Conversely, the anxiety of social media and maintaining one’s image poses separate issues.

Self-Concept and Academic Achievement

Self-concept and academic achievement is also a positive feedback loop, as actions beget similar actions and identity to match.

In a longitudinal study, Marsh (1990) found that students with more positive academic self-concept achieved greater academic success the following year. Later studies confirmed the relationship between the two but indicated that achievement affects self-concept more than self-concept inherently influences achievement success (Muijs, 2011).

Research by Byrne (1986) offered instead that self-concept and academic self-concept can be considered two separate constructs; academic achievement may impact one’s overall self-concept, but it is most directly related to academic self-concept.

Self-Concept and Career Development

Self-concept develops throughout the lifespan and during any career.

According to researcher Donald Super, there are five life and career development stages:

  • Growth (Ages 0 to 14)
  • Exploration (Ages 15 to 24)
  • Establishment (Age 25 to 44)
  • Maintenance (Age 45 to 64)
  • Decline (Age 65+)

The first stage is marked by the development of one’s basic self-concept. In the second stage, able individuals experiment and try out new classes, experiences, and jobs. Stage 3 sees individuals establishing their career and building their skills, likely starting in an entry-level position.

In the fourth stage, individuals engage in a continuous management and adjustment process to both their self-concept and their career. Finally, the fifth stage is characterized by reduced output and preparations for retirement, activities which can have a huge impact on one’s self-concept (Super, Starishevsky, Matlin, & Jordaan, 1963).

Of course, this model assumes equal access and privilege upon entering the workforce, which is not truthful to reality. Not all humans, for example, have the opportunity to explore and establish themselves as easily as others.

Nevertheless, Super posited that self-concept drives career development and can act as a general framework and inspiration for future research in this area, including a social and racial unearthing of Rogers’ theory on self-actualization.

The research could also be conducted on Bandura’s work on self-efficacy, on role salience, and on the idea of multiple identities in career development (Betz, 1994).

Culture and Self-Concept

Unsurprisingly, culture can have a big impact on self-concept. For example, how children are treated in early childhood influences how their sense of self develops.

Many parents might be more concerned with emotions and satisfying the wants of their children, while others may be more firm and controlling of their child’s behavior, worrying about their needs rather than fulfilling their desires. This is a generalization, but one that holds under scrutiny: culture influence self-concept.

Research suggests that those from more collectivist cultures produced more group self-descriptions and fewer idiocentric self-descriptions than those from individualistic cultures (Bochner, 1994).

Further research also indicated that East Asian cultures are more accepting of contradictory beliefs about the self; this indicates that one’s self-concept in these cultures may be more flexible than, say, American culture (Choi & Choi, 2002).

Findings like these are fascinating, but they also reveal how and why it is difficult to measure self-concept. The next section summarizes those attempts.

theory research self-concept

One’s self-concept does not always align with “reality” or with how others view a person. However, there are still some tools that can measure self-concept.

If you are interested in using a self-concept measure for research purposes, look first at the development of the instrument, the definition it is based on, and the dimensions or components it measures. It’s important that you choose a tool that aligns with the idea of self-concept that your research uses.

Some of the most prominent tools to measure self-concept include:

  • The Robson Self-Concept Questionnaire (SCQ; Robson, 1989)
  • The Social Self-Concept Questionnaire (SSC; Fernández-Zabala, Rodríguez-Fernández, & Goñi, 2016)
  • The Academic Self-Concept Questionnaire (ASCQ; Liu & Wang, 2005)

Self-Concept Questionnaire by Dr. Saraswat

The Self-Concept Questionnaire from Dr. Saraswat (1984) has become a popular choice for measuring self-concept. It consists of 48 items measuring self-concept across six dimensions:

  • Temperamental;
  • Educational;
  • Intellectual.

For each item, the respondent rates how well each item describes their ideas about themselves on a 5-point scale. Higher scores indicate high self-concept, while low scores indicate low self-concept.

This self-concept questionnaire is generally thought of as reliable by researchers, but it is dated.

If you’re looking for a great resource with 10 simple but effective activities for cultivating self-concept in young children, Glori Chaika’s article “Ten Activities to Improve Students’ Self-Concepts” can be adapted to fit the context for several age ranges.

We summarize the 10 activities she suggests here:

1 – The Interview

This activity is great for the beginning of the year as students to get to know their peers.

Break the group into pairs, and make sure each student is paired with someone they don’t very well. Give them 10 minutes to interview each other (5 minutes per interview) with fun questions like “would you rather live on a boat or on an island?” or “what is your favorite subject at this school?”.

When all of the interviews have been completed, have each pair come to the front of the class and introduce their partner to the other children.

2 – The Journal

Journals can be beneficial in many ways, as  keeping a journal  allows you to self-examine. Help your students develop their sense of self by assigning journal entries that they keep in one notebook all year.

Tell your students that they can put whatever they want in their journal—they can write a poem, describe a dream they had, write about what they hope for, something they are happy about, something they are sad about, etc.—and that they must make at least three entries (or however many you decide is appropriate) per week.

Make sure to tell them that you will only read the entry if they give you permission, but that you will check to ensure they have at least three dated entries per week.

3 – Designing Self-Collages

Self-collages are a great activity from young children to high-schoolers. Tell the students they need to create a collage that represents who they are by using pictures, words, and/or symbols. They can cut things from magazines, print them out from the internet, or draw pictures themselves.

You may want to guide them by suggesting to focus on things they enjoy or are good at, places they’ve been or would like to go, and people they admire.

When everyone’s collage is complete, you can do an extra activity where students present their collage to the classroom, or maybe everyone tries to guess which collage belongs to which student.

4 – Ranking Traits

This activity is best for older students with writing skills. Have the students rip a piece of paper into ten strips and write a word or phrase on each strip that they feel describes them. Tell them that no one will see the things they write down, so they can be completely honest.

Once the students have written down their ten traits, have them arrange them in order from those they most like about themselves to those they least like about themselves.

Encourage them to reflect on their traits by asking questions like:

  • Do you like what you see?
  • Do you want to keep it?
  • Now give up one trait. How does the lack of that affect you?
  • Now give up another. Give up three. Now what kind of person are you?

After the students have reduced their traits to six, have them add the traits back, one by one. For an extra boost to this activity, you can have the students journal about their experience at the end, and how they want to use their strengths.

5 – Accentuate the Positive

Accentuating the positive is all about noticing and sharing the positive things about others (and themselves).

To try this activity, break the students up into groups of four to six. Instruct the groups to pick one person (to start with) and tell that person all the positive things about them. Encourage the students to focus on traits and skills that can be altered (e.g., work ethic, skill in soccer), rather than permanent features (e.g., eyes, skin).

One student in each group will act as a recorder, writing down all the positive things that are said about someone. Each member of the group takes a turn, and the recorder gives the individual the list of all the positive things said about them at the end of the activity.

This exercise can also make a great focus for a journal entry.

6 – Thumbprints

This activity requires an ink pad and the willingness to get a bit messy!

Have each of your students place his or her thumb on the inkpad and then on a piece of paper to get a thumbprint. Show them the five major fingerprint patterns and have them identify their print type. Explain how fingerprints are unique—both across their own fingers and from person to person.

Next, have each student create an animal out of their thumbprint. Bonus points if the animal is one the student feels represents him or her! Encourage them to write about this in their journal, or to add the thumbprint drawing to their journal.

7 – Create a “Me” Commercial

This activity can be especially fun for the drama-loving students. Tell them that they are each going to make a two or three-minute commercial on why you should hire them.

The commercial should focus on their special skills, talents, and positive qualities. It should highlight what is great about them and what they would bring to the fictional position they are auditioning for.

Give the students some time to write their commercial, then have them present their commercials to the class. An alternative method for this activity is to have small groups create commercials for each group member.

8 – Shared Learning

This is a simple activity if you’ve been having your students write in their journal for the whole term.

Tell the students to look through their journal entries and reflect. Have them choose one thing they have learned about themselves during this term.

When each student has chosen something they would like to share, sit in a circle and have each student share out on what they learned over the past three months (or four months, or six months, etc.).

9 – Write Yourself a Letter

This is another activity that is appropriate for older children since it requires somewhat advanced writing skills.

Tell the students that they will be writing a letter to themselves, and to be totally honest since no one else will be able to read it. They can write whatever they’d like in this letter to their future selves, but they may want to add in things that describe them today (e.g., height and weight, current friends, favorite music and movies, special things that happened to them this year).

On another piece of paper or on the back of this letter, tell students to write down ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year. Have your students seal the letter and their goals in an envelope, address the envelope to themselves, and give it to you. In one year, mail the letters out to the students.

This is a far-reaching activity that will encourage your students to think about how they change over time, and how they stay the same.

10 – Drawing Self Portraits

Make sure that each student has access to a mirror for this activity. If there isn’t one handy in your classroom, bring some small mirrors in for the students to use.

Tell your students to use the mirror to draw a picture of themselves. It doesn’t have to look exactly like them, but it should be a good representation of them. This simple activity can promote self-reflection in students (beyond the kind that involves a mirror).

To take this activity a bit further, have them divide the drawing in half—on the left side, each student should draw herself as she sees herself, and on the right side, she should draw herself as she thinks others see her. Along with this drawing, the students can make an entry in their journal on the differences between how they see themselves and how they think others see them.

Self-Concept Activities for Preschoolers

self-concept lesson plans children

For example, a few of the activities that can help preschoolers develop a self-concept include:

  • Record each child’s voice during an activity period. Have the children listen to the voices and guess which voice goes with each child.
  • Have several children stand in a line in front of the class. Name the child who is first, second, third and so on. Ask the children to change positions. Then have each child in line name his or her new position. To vary the activity, have the children at their seats name each child in line and describe his or her position.
  • Make a friendship quilt. Cut several squares of brightly colored construction paper. Give each child one of the squares. Have them decorate the square or even glue a picture of himself, glitter, beads, sequins, or yarn to the square. Staple the squares, side by side, to the bulletin board. If extra squares are needed to fill in empty spaces, print the school’s name or teacher’s name on additional squares and intermingle them with the student’s squares.
  • Have the children think of some things they can’t do now, but can do when they grow older. What are some things they can do now that they couldn’t do when they were younger?
  • Role-play the growth process from baby to father or mother to grandparent. The child can interpret the process as he or she goes along. Children can also develop a short play about the family.

Any of these activities can be adapted to fit your children’s context, whether that is a classroom, at home, in a playgroup, in a therapy session, etc.

Lesson Plan on Self-Concept

If you’re looking for a good lesson plan on teaching self-concept, this plan from the Utah Education Network is a great choice.

It starts with a description of self-concept as “the person I think I am” and contrasts it with “the person others think I am” and “the person others think I think I am.”

A diagram on the first page shows a cycle with four “stops:”

  • As I see myself
  • As others see me
  • Other’s reactions to me

This diagram shows how each stop on the cycle feeds into the next, influencing each aspect and eventually coming back to the original stop. For example, how we see ourselves influences our actions. Our actions drive how others see us, and their image of us drives their reactions or behavior toward us.

Feedback on ourselves contributes to our overall image of ourselves, and the cycle continues.

Next, it describes several case studies to help drive the point home. There is the case of a 45-year old father who looks in the mirror and thinks about the wrinkle he just found, the weight he would like to lose, his desire to be a stay-at-home dad, his messy and unorganized house, and a commitment he made that has overextended him.

There is also a case of a middle-aged mother thinking about her miserable day at work, the last decade or so of overtime, her struggles to pay the bills and have a little money left for herself, and all the things she has on her to-do list.

A third case focuses on a teenage girl who is concerned about her skin, her haircut, whether her friends truly care about her, and an upcoming chemistry test that she has not studied for.

The final case concerns a teenage guy who was struggling to understand calculus and thinking back to the counselor that encouraged him to take it. He is also comparing himself to his straight-A brother and thinking about how he wished he could be the athlete his father wanted him to be. He is worrying about tryouts and doubting his ability to even make the team.

For each of these cases, the questions are:

  • How will the individual see himself or herself?
  • How will the individual act toward others?
  • How will the individual think others see him or her?
  • How will others act toward the individual?
  • What effect does this have on how the individual sees him- or herself?
  • Where is the spiral headed and how can its motion be reversed?

This is a great lesson for children to learn, whether you introduce it in elementary school (with some extra time and patience set aside!) or in high school.

Follow this link and click on “Self Concept Transparency” to see the example lesson plan for yourself, and feel free to invent examples most relevant to your class or client.

self-concept worksheets strengths self-esteem

Three of the most useful worksheets on self-concept are described below.

All About Me

This worksheet from the Utah Education Network is a good option for children of all ages.

It is only one page with 15 prompts to complete. These prompts are:

  • I feel good about…
  • I feel successful when…
  • My favorite person is…
  • My favorite activity is…
  • I wish I could…
  • If I could have three wishes, they would be: a. b. c.
  • I feel depressed when…
  • A character trait I need to improve is…
  • I am good at…
  • I wish I did not…
  • My family is…
  • I would like to be…
  • The most important thing to me is…
  • The thing I like best about myself…

You can find this worksheet and other worksheets and lesson plans on the Utah Education Network’s website here .

Learning about how others perceive a construct can be helpful in furthering our own understanding of that construct.

Use the quotes below to see how your idea of self-concept compares to the ideas of others.

What others think of us would of little moment did it not, when known, so deeply tinge what we think of ourselves.

Paul Valéry

Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.
Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me’, and when you have found that attitude, follow it.

William James

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
Act as if you are the person you want to be.

Bernie Siegel

The self is not something that one finds. It is something that one creates.

Thomas Szasz

There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true Self.
An individual’s self-concept is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behavior: the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life.

Joyce Brothers

In this piece, we learned about what self-concept is (an overarching idea about who we are), how it comes about (it develops throughout the lifespan, and is most flexible in the early years), what it is related to and affected by (just about everything, but namely consumer behavior, academic achievement, career development, and culture), and whether you can do anything to change it—you can.

Our self-concept is affected by how we feel about ourselves and how we judge our abilities, competencies, and worth as a person. When we put some effort into boosting these self-evaluations, our self-concept will adjust to accommodate these changes.

We have the ability to change how we think about ourselves by working to become more like our ideal selves.

It might seem daunting to put in the effort required to revise your self-esteem and self-image, but like most tasks, getting started is the hardest part. Refer to some of the quotes above to get a dose of inspiration, or find some quotes on the subject that inspire you and keep them nearby whenever you’re in need of some motivation.

What do you think about self-concept? Do you have any other good quotes about self-concept? Do you have a developed self-concept or is it vaguer? Do you think it’s good or bad to have self-concept differentiation?

Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Self Compassion Exercises for free .

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Help me to make preparations for grade5 class about positive self concept.

Julia Poernbacher

Here is an idea: – Brief Introduction: Explain self-concept in simple terms—how we see ourselves, including our abilities, personality, and place in the world. Activities: – Positive Affirmation Cards: Students create and decorate cards with positive statements about themselves. Self-Portrait: Draw or paint self-portraits that express individual personalities and strengths. – Growth Mindset Chat: Discuss how effort and perseverance can improve abilities, showing that self-concept can grow and change. – Role-Playing: Practice scenarios that involve giving compliments, asking for help, and overcoming obstacles to understand how actions affect self-concept. – Reflection: Encourage journaling about personal growth, challenges, and successes to help students see their progress. – Parent Guide: Send home tips on reinforcing positive self-concept, including praise, open discussions, and setting a positive example.

I hope this helps!

Warm regards, Julia | Community Manager


If you don”t mind proceed with this extraordinary work and I anticipate a greater amount of your magnificent blog entries. 

Godfrey Silas

A stupendous offering indeed. Ackerman, the author, presents a comprehensive account of Self-Concept with stunning clarity and richness. A sumptuously edifying gift for students of sociology and psychology everywhere.


Thank you so much. This helped a lot in my psychology project


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A Conscious Rethink

What Is Self-Concept And How Does It Influence Your Life?

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woman looking at reflection of herself illustrating self-concept

Table Of Contents

Why is self-concept important, how is self-concept formed, dr. carl rogers’ three parts of self-concept.

  • Self-esteem

Congruence And Incongruence

Dr. bruce a. bracken’s multidimensional self-concept scale, the influence of self-concept on behavior, self-concept and stereotyping, how our own self-concept can influence the behavior of others, developing clarity of self-concept, in pursuit of the ideal self.

The answer to the question of how to craft a happy, fulfilling life is rooted in understanding oneself.

Because, you see, it is only by understanding oneself that we can make the right choices that will guide us to the kind of life and happiness that we seek.

An understanding of self-concept can help clarify and solidify who you are as a person, what you like about yourself, what you don’t like about yourself, and what you need to change.

So, what is self-concept?

The term self-concept is used in psychology as a means of identifying the thoughts and beliefs that a person has about themselves and how they perceive themselves.

Self-concept encompasses what a person believes their attributes are; who and what they are.

It is like a mental picture of who you think you are as a person.

A person’s self-concept helps them define who they think they are and how they fit into the world. That in itself makes self-concept important because every individual wants to know themselves and feel as though they belong .

It applies to everyone, because everyone is going to have some kind of belief about who or what they are.

That may be a sticky concept for some, particularly those who reject the notion of labels or think of labeling as a bad thing.

Take the attitude of a rebellious, free spirit. That person may not want to feel as though they are being confined to any particular set of attitudes or way of life. The person may not like to feel they are being put into a box that they do not belong in.

However, it is useful to understand those boxes because they can help you see the world in different ways.

The rebellious, free spirits of the world share traits like every other group of people do. In fact, their desire to not be categorized and put into a box is a trait they commonly share with one another.

The person who broadcasts to the world, whether through words or deeds, that they are a rebellious, free spirit is sending a clear message about the person they believe themselves to be. That belief is self-concept.

So, whether we like it or not, self-concept is important because it is the basis of our identity.

A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming. – Madeleine L’Engle

The field of psychology has many theories on why people are the way they are, why they feel the way they feel, and how they come to be the person that will eventually come to be.

There are a plethora of theories about numerous facets of the mind. Self-concept is no different.

The social-identity theory states that self-concept is composed of two distinct parts: personal identity and social identity.

One’s personal identity includes personality traits, beliefs, emotions, and characteristics that help to define each individual person. It is purely internal.

Social identity, on the other hand, is mostly external. It includes the groups that we belong to that we identify with or as. That may be sexual, religious, educational, racial, career oriented, or really any group of people that a person can identify with.

The formation of self-concept begins as a child, as young as three months old. The baby begins to realize that they are a unique entity by receiving feedback on their interactions with the world.

They may cry and get attention from a parent, push a toy and see that it moves, or laugh and see another person laugh back with them.

These actions begin setting the stage for the development of self-concept.

As the child grows, their self-concept is developed through internal and external means. The internal facets are that which the person thinks about themselves. The external comes from family, community, and other social influences.

A person raised in a rugged, individualistic society may see themselves or try to define themselves as a rugged, individualistic person whether they actually are or not.

This type of influence is apparent in the gendering of toys. If society believes and teaches that a boy should not play with dolls, then the boy will be more inclined to think, “I am a boy, therefore I should not play with dolls.”

And the same applies for girls. If society believes and teaches that a girl should not play video games, then she will be more inclined to think, “I am a girl, therefore I should not be playing video games.”

Self-concept is fluid. Though it starts to form at a young age, it will change continuously throughout a person’s life as they experience new things, gain new knowledge, and start to figure out who they truly are underneath all of the external influences that have been forced on them throughout their life.

Perhaps the boy grows up to realize that it’s okay for him to like dolls and becomes a collector. Perhaps the girl decides she loves video games so much she works to become a game developer.

The renowned Humanist psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers believed that there are three distinct parts of a person’s self-concept: self-esteem, self-image, and ideal self.

Self-esteem is how much a person values themselves.

Self-esteem is influenced by internal and external factors. Internally, it is largely how we feel about ourselves, compare ourselves to others, how others respond to us, and the type of feedback we give to ourselves.

Externally, it can be influenced by feedback we receive from the world or other people.

A person who regularly tries things but is unsuccessful is likely to have their self-esteem damaged in a negative way.

The feedback they receive from other people about who they are or what they try also influences their self-esteem. Negative feedback can tear self-esteem down, while positive feedback can build it up.

Self-image is how a person sees themselves.

Self-image does not necessarily coincide with reality. A person who is struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues may feel like they are much worse of a person than they actually are.

People can easily fall into negative thought loops about themselves if they don’t take great care to avoid them.

On the other hand, a person can also have an incredibly exaggerated sense of self-worth and being. Their self-image may be artificially inflated by ego, arrogance, and self-importance.

A majority of people will have a mix of strong self-image beliefs across the spectrum.

Examples corresponding to self-image may include things like physical attributes, personal traits, social roles, and abstract existential statements (“I’m a spiritual person.” “I’m a Christian.” “I’m a Wiccan”).

The ideal self is the person we want to be.

Anyone with an interest in self-improvement is going to be looking at what they perceive to be their flaws to compare them to how they would like to be. Perhaps the person wants to be more disciplined, fearless, more creative, or a better friend .

A person’s perception of an ideal self may also not mesh with reality if they have an unrealistic view on the trait that they want to improve. They may find themselves reaching for a goal that does not exist.

Rogers coined the terms congruence and incongruence to help clarify how well a person’s grasp of reality lined up with their self-concept.

Every person experiences reality in their own specific way. Their perceptions are shaped not only by facts, but by anecdotal experiences of their lives.

Congruence happens when a person’s self-concept aligns fairly close to factual reality. Incongruence is when a person’s self-concept does not align with factual reality.

Rogers believed that incongruence is rooted in the way the child was loved by their parents. If the parent’s love and affection was conditional and needed to be earned, the person is more likely to have a distorted perception of how they fit and relate to the world.

Unconditional love , on the other hand, fosters congruence and a realistic self-image on how a person fits into the world.

Incongruence at a young age may contribute to personality disorders.

Dr. Bruce A. Bracken developed his own multidimensional self-concept scale that includes six primary groups of traits that help to define self-concept. These are:

Physical: how we look, physical health, physical fitness levels (“ I am ugly “)

Social: how we interact with others, both giving and receiving (“I am kind”)

Family: how we relate to family members, how we interact with family members (“I am a good mother”)

Competence: how we manage the basic needs of our life, employment, self-care (“I am a skilled writer”)

Academic: intelligence, school, ability to learn (“ I am stupid “)

Affect: interpretation and understanding of emotional states (“I am easily flustered”)

The two perspectives can be combined to zero in on more specific traits that help a person better define their self-concept.

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Self-concept heavily influences behavior because it causes a person to dictate to themselves what they may or may not be able to accomplish through self-categorization.

Every person holds beliefs and biases of different categories in their life, whether they are aware of them or not. People will make many of their decisions based on these beliefs and biases.

Let’s look at a couple examples for clarification.

Anne defines herself as a free-spirited traveler. She likes to live a light life where she can pick up and go as she so desires.

After years of travel and seeing the world, she starts to feel like she wants to settle down, maybe have a relationship and a family.

A relationship and family will mean that she’ll lose some of that free-spirited traveler that is a part of her identity so that she can have a more stable and consistent lifestyle.

She may have a hard time reconciling that she wants to settle down and have a family with her identity as a free-spirited traveler.

In this example, Anne may feel conflicted because her previous desires to be a free-spirit and travel is in direct opposition to her new desire to settle down and start a family. She will need to reconcile those differences and develop new behaviors that are more relevant to her emerging desires.

Greg defines himself as an introverted, shy person. As a result, he regularly avoids social activities and socialization because that’s just not who he believes himself to be.

Greg may actually be a sociable person if he allowed himself to step out of his box and interact with other people.

Even if Greg does have a difficult time with socialization, these are skills that he could learn and practice through self-help books or therapy if he could look past his self-categorization as an introverted, shy person.

There are a lot of people who struggle with socialization out there. Many of them call themselves introverts, when really they may be struggling with social anxiety or depression.

An introverted person is just someone who regains their energy by spending time alone. It doesn’t mean they are shy, can’t function in social situations, can’t be charming or suave, or face overwhelming fear about socialization.

Greg’s incongruent belief that he is an introverted, shy person is self-reinforcing until he chooses to break out of the boxes he has put himself in.

Stacy comes to understand that many of her life problems are because she is a lazy person who avoids responsibility. She may identify that she is a lazy, irresponsible person, but chooses to no longer define herself as these things.

Instead, she wants to be a proactive, responsible person so she stops sabotaging her own success and life.

In her desire to change, she researches what makes a person proactive and responsible, and she starts to pattern her own behaviors and decisions on those concepts. That, in turn, leads her to change herself and her life for the better .

Altering or changing one’s self-concept is a process that takes some time. It’s difficult to change entrenched habits and develop new, healthier ones.

But in this example, Stacy identified her negative qualities and developed a course of action to replace them with more positive ones.

She stopped telling herself that she was a lazy, irresponsible person and replaced her habits with those of a person who is proactive and responsible, shifting herself into a healthier mentality.

John lives a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle. He understands that a lack of physical activity and junk food is detrimental to his long-term health. John does not possess the traits that one would expect an active, healthy person to have.

But, he can develop those habits by deciding to be an active, healthy person. John researches healthy eating, starts buying better food, and finds an exercise routine that empowers him to change into a healthier, more active person.

Incongruences in a person’s self-concept can be painful and difficult as the person tries to figure who they are and how they fit into the world.

A stay at home dad who prides himself on being a family man will have his whole reality jolted if his wife decides to leave him, because it will cause him to question if he’s been a good family man and partner.

A career driven woman may find herself questioning her life if she becomes disabled and loses her job. She may be unsure if the sacrifices she made were worth it or not once she can no longer define herself as a career woman. She will have to find a new way to identify herself.

On the other side of the coin, a person can use their incongruences to guide their self-improvement and empowerment, much like Stacy and John did.

A person who understands who they are can more easily figure out how to improve in the areas of their life that they feel are lacking. Anyone can replace the negative perceptions with positive ones, introduce new behaviors and processes, and change for the better .

The categorization of people and oneself can be a sticky subject for some. No one likes to feel that they are being scrutinized and analyzed.

Self-concept is a helpful tool for not only clinicians, but for the average individual who wants to better understand and find happiness with themselves.

Yet it can also be problematic. Being aware of the categories that exist can influence one’s perception of who they think other people are or should be.

The career woman may not have much tolerance for other people who do not take their careers as seriously as she does. The artist may snub other artists for not practicing their art or being as productive. Other people may look down on the stay at home dad for not maintaining traditional employment like a man was once expected to.

Awareness of how we define ourselves can help us grow closer to other people, particularly by avoiding falling into these stereotypical thinking traps.

Every single person is different, with their own unique trajectory in this existence. What makes sense for the career woman, artist, or stay at home dad may not be relevant to other career types, artists, or stay at home parents.

No one fits neatly into one generic box. One should be careful to avoid projecting their own biases and views onto other people.

People generally treat other people as they are permitted. Self-concept plays a significant role in how other people will view and treat us.

This is where the common advice of, “Fake it ’til you make it!” applies.

A person who defines themselves as incompetent or unreliable is likely to be viewed that way by others.

Regardless of how true this may be, if a person’s self-concept includes these views, they will likely talk about themselves in this way. They may also fall into patterns of behavior that confirm this view because they have accepted that this behavior is who they really are.

Given the evidence they are presented with, other people will often share this person’s view of themselves. That is, unless they are a close friend or family member who sees this person in an entirely different way to how they see themselves.

That can also work to the positive. A person who believes in themselves and puts forward a strong sense of self-worth is more likely to be treated positively.

The person who emanates confidence in themselves is more likely to inspire confidence in other people, particularly if they can back up their claims with actions and results.

Congruence puts the individual in a place where they understand exactly what they have to offer the world. It can positively and negatively affect not only the way a person treats themselves, but how the rest of the world will treat them.

“If you really have your own identity, you’ll keep on doing what you think is really right for you, and you’ll also understand the next step you want to take. – Helmut Lang

The development of an understanding of one’s self-concept can help them better understand why they see the world in the way that they do, why they feel the way that they feel, and why they make the decisions that they do.

Forging congruence between reality and self-concept can help a person better relate to the world and journey toward happiness. It allows a person to more easily identify what areas of their life need work and improvement.

Journaling is an effective way to develop and understand one’s self-concept. A person who journals out who they believe they are and tests that against their choices in life will be able to more clearly see where the differences are.

To really make this work, one needs to look at their choices and get to the bottom of why they make the decisions that they do. Is it more logical or emotional? What was the basis of those decisions? What were the alternatives? How did those decisions work out?

Therapy may be an important tool. A good therapist can provide a valuable third-party perspective that may not be available elsewhere. A therapist can also help their client navigate the emotion surrounding decision making processes, because emotional decisions may not align with rationality or reason.

Examining one’s past and previous decisions will also grant clarity on one’s emotional state and future emotional decisions.

A person can learn a lot about themselves by dissecting and exploring the choices they’ve made in their life, whether mundane or life-altering. The more one understands about their choices in life, the clearer they can see themselves, and the better equipped they are to make good decisions that reflect their true desires.

The ideal self is how one envisions themselves to be at the end of their journey. It takes time, dedication, and discipline to make significant changes to be the person they want to be.

That journey is absolutely worthwhile because it is a means to find peace of mind and happiness in this life.

A person who lives against who they actually are will be fighting an unending battle against their own mind, trying to square away who they are versus who they believe they need to be.

The person who is able to live in accordance with their ideal self will have far less internal conflict about their place in the world.

Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be. – Robert Brault

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About The Author

importance of self concept essay

Jack Nollan is a person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years now. Jack is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspective from the side of the mental health consumer. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.

Importance of Self-Concept: Transforming Lives for Success

Self-concept is the way you perceive yourself and your abilities. It affects your self-esteem, your motivation, and your behavior. Having a positive self-concept can help you achieve your goals, cope with challenges, and enjoy life. On the other hand, having a negative self-concept can limit your potential, lower your confidence, and make you unhappy. That's why it's important to develop a healthy and realistic self-concept that reflects your true value and potential. Even though you have a self-concept if it was a bad one it may impact you in a bad way.

importance of self concept essay

Sanju Pradeepa

Importance of self-concept

You are the sum of your parts, both the good and the bad. Your self-concept is the result of all of your experiences, both positive and negative, in life. It influences not only how you think and feel but also your behavior and attitude toward yourself and others.

Your self-concept is like a mirror that reflects who you are as an individual. It can become distorted over time due to environmental factors such as poor nutrition, too much stress, or a lack of sleep. It may also be influenced by personal relationships or past experiences.

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of self-concept and how we can use it to empower ourselves in our lives. We’ll look at the different components that make up a self-concept, how to identify any problems or issues that may arise from it, and how to utilize it for personal growth and development.

Table of Contents

What is self-concept.

What Is Self-Concept

You may not know it, but your self-concept plays a huge role in your life. It’s part of who you are, and it affects everything from the way you view things to how you act and react. So, what exactly is self-concept?

Your self-concept is essentially the way that you see yourself. It’s your ideas and beliefs about yourself that you carry with you. It’s formed by what you think other people think of you as well as how you perceive yourself in different circumstances.

It shapes a lot of the decisions that we make in our lives, from career choices to the relationships we pursue. It influences our values, goals, and even the activities that we participate in; all these factors can affect our overall success or failure in life.

It’s important to understand the power of your self-concept and how it affects your decisions; if we are aware of it, we can use it to our advantage rather than letting it control us.

Read More – Self-Esteem vs Self-Concept: Difference and Ways to Improve

How Self-Concept Is Formed

Self-concept is the idea you have of yourself. How you define and perceive your identity. It’s cultivated over time as you experience and interpret your life, integrating feedback from others to form a self-image .

Your self-concept is shaped by a variety of factors, such as:

our self-concept is shaped by a variety of factors

  • Your relationships with others
  • Your personal beliefs and values
  • Your past experiences
  • Your cultural background
  • Media messages and stereotypes

This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but it serves to demonstrate the complexity involved in forming one’s self-concept. As you can see, it’s not just about how much money you make or what job title you have. It’s an entire web of internal and external influences that come together to form your identity.

Importance of self-concept

Importance of self concept

To understand why self-concept is so important, it helps to think of it as a tool that you can use to better understand yourself. It’s like a compass that points you in the right direction ; a self-assessment of sorts. It encompasses both how you see yourself and how you think other people see you, and how both of those beliefs affect how you interact with the world around you.

At its most basic level, having a strong self-concept is the foundation for developing healthy, positive relationships with yourself and others. It’s closely related to your self-esteem, in that it’s about understanding your thoughts and feelings about who you are. Having this understanding comes with all sorts of benefits: it can help you make better decisions, manage stress more effectively, increase your resilience in difficult times, and even become more creative.

Knowing who you are, your values and beliefs helps strengthen and maintain relationships with family members, friends and co-workers. A strong sense of identity also gives us the courage to take risks when necessary which can lead us to increased opportunities at work or greater satisfaction in our personal lives. To put it simply: having a strong sense of self will help you live a fuller life.

If describes it’s importance in another way – your self-concept matters a lot. It affects the way you think, act, and see yourself about others.

It's the lens through which you view and interpret your life experiences, which goes a long way in determining your success or failure

Having a healthy self-concept is critical when it comes to being able to take risks, handle stress and criticism, and achieve long-term success. It helps create an inner strength that can help you face any challenge that comes your way.

A robust self-concept can also help you handle criticism better, enabling you to use it as constructive feedback rather than letting it bring down your morale. And when it comes to forming relationships with others, having a positive self-image makes it easier for you to trust those around you and build meaningful connections.

Having a positive self-concept gives you inner strength and resilience that helps shape your life and drives long-term success

The Role of Self-concept in personal growth and Development

The Role of Self-concept in personal growth and Development

Your self-concept matters because it plays a key role in personal growth and development. You see, your self-concept is essentially a fundamental part of your identity, influencing how you think and feel and even how you behave. As such, understanding and managing your self-concept can help you reach new levels of success and fulfillment in life.

Here are some key ways that your self-concept can fuel personal growth and development:

  • Increasing resilience – Your self-concept can be a source of strength when the going gets tough. A strong, positive self-image can help you stay motivated and focused during difficult times so that you can grow from the experience.
  • Accepting feedback – Your self-concept allows you to accept feedback from other people without taking it personally or becoming defensive. When you accept feedback with an open mind, it’s easier to learn from your mistakes and use that knowledge to become better in the future.
  • Strengthening relationships – A positive self-concept allows you to engage more effectively with others in all types of relationships, including those with friends, family members, colleagues, and even partners. As a result, these relationships tend to be stronger and last longer than they would otherwise.

At the end of the day, understanding and managing your self-concept is essential for achieving personal growth and development over time and that’s why it matters so much.

How self-concept shapes our beliefs and actions

How self-concept shapes our beliefs and actions

Did you know that your self-concept shapes your beliefs and actions? Your self-concept is the mental image you have of yourself and determines your feelings, behaviors, and values. It’s like a personal blueprint for success or failure, as it affects how you interpret the world around you and believe in yourself.

The link between beliefs and actions

Your beliefs are based on your self-concept. They shape how you think and behave, making them closely linked to your actions. For instance, if your self-concept tells you that “I am capable of achieving anything I set out to do”, then this belief will drive actionable steps towards that goal. On the other hand, thinking “I am not good enough” is likely to cause inaction or feelings of discouragement from even trying.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

Your self-concept can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more positive beliefs we have about ourselves, the more successful we become. Similarly, negative beliefs can lead to failure or decreased productivity levels in life. It’s important to cultivate a positive belief system that is realistic and feasible to work towards improving oneself over time.

Benefits of positive self-concept

Benefits of positive self-concept

Your self-concept can have a big impact on your life, and having a strong and positive self-concept is hugely beneficial. Here’s why:

1.Improved self-esteem and self-worth

Think about it. If you have a positive view of yourself, then you’ll believe that you’re worthy of respect, that you deserve to be treated well, and that you can achieve the things you set out to do. All of these together will help contribute to an improved sense of self-esteem and self-worth!

2.Greater confidence and self-assurance

Having a positive view of yourself also means that you have confidence in your abilities and trust in yourself. You know that whether it’s communicating with others or tackling new projects, there’s nothing too difficult or even impossible to achieve because you are confident in your abilities. This helps create a stronger sense of self and assists in making decisions with greater assurance.

3. Realistic view of yourself

Having a realistic view of who you are as a person requires an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Accepting that no one is perfect and being content with what makes you unique is the foundation for having a positive self-concept.

4. Self-awareness

Being aware of your thoughts and feelings, understanding why they exist, and managing them in healthy ways greatly contribute to having a positive self-concept. It also helps when it comes to connecting with others: by understanding yourself better, it gets easier to express your thoughts and emotions in meaningful ways while hearing others out too.

5. Guide to Self-acceptance

Self-acceptance means being comfortable with both your flaws and successes; it’s important to understand that being imperfect doesn’t make you any less worthy or lovable. Learning to accept yourself unconditionally can be hard work, but ultimately, it helps build confidence that no one else can give you.

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Self-Concept

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Self-Concept

Having a healthy self-concept is key to leading a successful and satisfying life. It can help you handle difficult situations, face new challenges, and foster better relationships with others. Here are some ways you can maintain a healthy one:

1. Positive self-talk

Positively talking to yourself helps you prepare for any tough situation. Self-talk that is constructive and encouraging puts you in the right frame of mind to think about how to address problems rather than get overwhelmed by them.

2. Acknowledge your worth.

Recognizing your own worth is essential to forming a strong self-concept. Regularly reminding yourself of your strengths, skills, and successes can help you build an accurate idea of who you are and what you are capable of achieving. When facing difficulty or failure, it’s important to focus on the positive aspects of yourself instead of feeling defeated.

3. Take care of yourself.

Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is important for maintaining a healthy self-concept. Implementing healthy habits such as exercise, relaxation activities like yoga or meditation, good nutrition, and regular sleep patterns, among other practices, can help reduce stress and maintain good physical health, which can positively impact your self-concept.

4. Challenge negative thoughts and beliefs.

Replace them with positive and affirming ones. For example, instead of saying “I can’t do this”, say “I can learn how to do this”. Instead of saying “I’m worthless”, say “I’m valuable and worthy”. You can also use affirmations, positive statements that you repeat to yourself daily, to boost your self-concept.

5. Identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Recognize what you are good at and what you need to work on. Don’t compare yourself to others or judge yourself harshly. Focus on your own progress and achievements. For example, you might make a list of your skills, talents, and accomplishments, and review it regularly to remind yourself of your strengths.

Effects of Negative Self-Concepts

Effects of Negative Self-Concepts

Finally, if you don’t have a good self-concept, you’re likely to be negatively affected in many areas of your life. Here are some of the effects of having a negative self-concept:

1. Limited personal growth and development

If you don’t have a good self-concept, it may feel like you can’t accomplish anything. That feeling can make it difficult to strive toward personal growth and development since it may feel like there’s nothing worth accomplishing. This mental barrier can lead to stagnation in various areas of your life, such as education, career, or simply trying new things.

2. Low self-esteem and self-worth

A negative self-concept is often paired with feelings of l ow self-esteem or self-worth. Without being kind or compassionate to yourself or believing that your opinions and feelings are valid, it’s easy to lower your confidence in yourself. This can also manifest itself as feeling small or invisible in certain situations where we need to be assertive or stand our ground.

3. Impaired relationships with others

Having a negative self-concept can also make forming relationships with others difficult because our attitude toward ourselves is connected to the way we relate to others. If we see ourselves as unworthy, then this view may transfer to others too, leading us to think that they will reject us if we open up about who we truly are. As a result, this can cause us to feel disconnected from people close to us and inhibit true connection with them.

Self-concept is a powerful tool for self-discovery and personal growth, but it’s also important to remember that it’s ultimately shaped by our experiences and interactions with others. It’s a complex and ever-evolving concept, and it’s essential to look inward, practice self-compassion, and recognize how other people’s opinions of us are just a snapshot of their interpretations and not a definitive reflection of who we are.

Living in alignment with a healthy self-concept doesn’t mean achieving perfection or pleasing everyone; rather, it’s about living authentically, being mindful of our thoughts and emotions, and recognizing the value in each experience. By developing strong, positive self-concepts, we can move through life with more confidence, joy, and resilience.

  • The Power to See Ourselves by  Paul J. Brouwer From the Magazine (November 1964) published in Harvard Business Review
  • Thine Own Self: True Self-Concept Accessibility and Meaning in Life by Rebecca J. Schlegel ,  Joshua A. Hicks ,  Jamie Arndt , and  Laura A. King , J Pers Soc Psychol. 2009 Feb; 96(2): 473–490. doi:  10.1037/a0014060

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Order bidding, useful tips for writing an essay explaining a concept.

Writing an Essay

Undertaking a self concept essay is a delicate and risky venture. And before we dive into all possible subtleties of this process, let’s first get to grips with the subject itself. “Who am I?” – this challenging and seemingly trite question is what our subconscious clings to over the course of our whole life, desperately urging us to interrogate our minds.

As individuals who are inquisitive by nature, we won’t stop confronting our sophisticated selves with this stark inquiry. Self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-efficacy, self-discovery – this ultimate selection of “selves” underlies our understanding of who we are and forms our self concept.

What Is the Self Concept?

“An idea of the self that is constructed from the different beliefs an individual holds about themselves” – this definition provides a brief but accurate overview of what self concept is. The extravagant notion of the self concept has served as a highly favored subject for scientific investigations as well as concept essays. Given the intricacy of this subject and the space for thinking it provides people with, the matter of the self-concept is frequently chosen as the topic for essays. Writers strive to make their tiny contribution into the understanding of this phenomenon and take an insightful look at the problem with their works. But, as we stressed above, creating a worthy essay that features the self concept is quite a challenge.

Next, we will provide an extensive guide to developing a masterful self concept essay.

Steps to Write a Self Concept Essay

By following a pattern of effective and time-proven steps in your essay, you prevent your work randomness and inconsistency, which are signs of low-quality writing.

Choosing the topic for your essay is a paramount element of creating it. Determine what interests you the most about the self concept, what issues surrounding the topic appeal to you more intensely than other self concept essay topics. Once you make up your mind about your favorite subject relating to this concept, move on to conducting research.

2. Research

One of the most important steps in writing any academic work is making research. Even if you think your knowledge of your self concept essay topic is enough, don’t shy away from getting to know even more about it. There’s plenty of credible psychology and philosophy sources on the web that can give you the necessary scientific background, and even beyond it. Be sure to browse carefully and responsibly, and beware of numerous dubious websites displaying fake and misleading information.

Along with the topic of your essay, you need to settle on the central idea of your work. It’s something you will center your entire essay around. Giving your essay one common idea helps avoid ambling unreasonably from one idea to another in your work.

The theme of your essay is very similar to the topic, but not quite the same. A theme is considered as an accompaniment to the topic, and its contextual setting unites the elements of the work. The theme provides the necessary ambience of the text and makes it coherent. So, decide on what mood, or theme, should prevail in your essay, and try to stick to it all the way through the writing process.

Creating an outline of your essay is an essential step in terms of convenience and saving time. This helps you structure the work, neatly arranging your thoughts and ideas in the logical order.

Suggestions for Your Self Concept Essay

In order to make your essay more appealing and informative, you should consider a number of critical tips and suggestions in addition to your own experience and writing habits.

  • Avoid junk in your essay. It’s very easy to get distracted and gradually shift to redundancies in the writing. This happens when we delve too deeply into what we’re elaborating on, or focus on the secondary of the subject.
  • Be consistent. Be sure to stick to the logical pattern of your text and eschew contradictions in it. Don’t go against your own assertions and statements you provided earlier in the text.
  • Make references in the text. Refer to authoritative sources, such as famous scholars. This will add more credibility and value to your work and show that your research is not limited to your own thoughts and statements, which might be slightly biased, instead comprises unprejudiced assertions from other researchers.
  • Apply critical thinking. Try to demonstrate your ability to analyze facts and form judgments objectively, not only repeating the arguments and facts, but engaging with them in an academic manner. Make your evaluation of the data, facts, and research findings balanced and reasoned.
  • Structure your work. Following a logical structure in your essay helps present your argument in a cohesive and comprehensible way. Keeping the text structured also helps to stay focused in your essay, and not swerve from the main subject.

Self Concept Essay Topics

As we stressed above, developing the topic for your essay is a key step. Still, you might as well compromise your creativity and let the web provide you with a myriad of essay topics, whereby you can choose the one that fits best to your liking. Here, we have listed some of the trending suggestions for your self concept essay ideas.

  • Self concept through interpersonal communication.
  • Social psychology and self concept.
  • The steps of self concept.
  • The self concept of self esteem.
  • Historical development of self concept theory.
  • The importance of having a strong self concept.
  • The media and technology on self concept.
  • Defining the concept of self.
  • The Pygmalion effect, and self concept.
  •  Identity of self concept and the deaf.

Self Concept Essay Sample

The Idea of the Self Concept Self concept is the cognition we have of ourselves based on our personal experiences, body image, and thoughts. Self concept is also referred to as the perception of our abilities and our image. This perception is based on the information we gather about our skills, traits, and abilities. Normally, our self image begins to develop at six or seven months of age. The sense of identity expands as we start interacting with other people. So far, two basic theories have been developed that explain how interactions influence and shape our self concept. The reflected appraisal theory stands for our perception of how others see or evaluate us. The theory argues that people develop their self-image according to what they believe people think of them. This process is viewed as crucial for the development of a personal self-esteem as well as self concept. Another theory, the social comparison theory, explains how we evaluate our abilities by comparing ourselves to others. We compare ourselves to other people by looks, achievements, intelligence, and failures. Scientists also single out the forces that impact self concept. They fall into two main categories: internal and external sources. Internal forces are represented by what we think of ourselves and of others, how we perceive everything in life. External forces include the environment where we spend most of our time, the influence of other people, what others think about us. It is important to note that self concept constitutes an all-encompassing awareness people have of themselves in the past, present and how they see themselves in the future. It is the perception people have about their past or future selves that has a connection with that of their current selves. We usually tend to perceive our past selves in a less favorable way, while perceiving our future selves more favorably.

In a Nutshell

Given the newfound familiarity with how to write this type of essay, along with the concept essay example we provided, you can get started with making your mini-research on the topic of the self concept. Developing a worthy essay about self concept can be as easy as 1,2,3, providing that you make sure to follow our vital academic tips and recommendations!

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Home — Essay Samples — Psychology — Self Concept — Development Of Self-concept In Students’ Learning


Development of Self-concept in Students' Learning

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Published: May 31, 2021

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importance of self concept essay

Home / Essay Samples / Sociology / Interpersonal Relationship / Effective Communication

Importance of Self-Concept in Communication

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The Physical Self Concept Analysis Essay

Human development life span is a process that begins between conception and birth of a child and proceeds till old age. The process involves personal growth both mentally and physically, however, the rate of growth differs from one individual to the other such that some children or adolescents will be more physically developed (height and muscles) than others of the same age. Despite genetic and environmental factors having an influence on physical development, some concepts including cephalocaudal, proximodistal, and Orthogenetic principles explain the pattern of human growth and development. Indeed, the physical posture of an individual becomes more balanced as he/she develops from infancy to adulthood.

The physical body of an individual during infancy is largely disproportional. According to the cephalocaudal principle, the head occupies 50% of the body size of a two-month fetus but as physical development occurs, the body becomes more proportional with the head accounting for 12% of body length and 2% of body weight while the legs accounting for 50% of body length in an adult person (Siegleman and Rider, 2008, p.128). This concept views physical growth and development to progress from the head downwards, with the trunk growing fastest during the first year after birth and the legs growing fastest thereafter. Siegelman and Rider (2008, p. 128) also describe the physical growth in terms of proximodistal concept where the internal organs and chest are said to grow faster during the early period of infancy and then the growth spreads to the extremities (arms) thereafter. The third concept, Orthogenetic, provides a different view with the body being seen to initially grow universally with no differentiation and then thereafter the body organs become differentiated and organized as the developmental process progresses.

Given that physical growth is influenced by the brain and endocrine system, any interference of the neural system or secretion of body hormones will interfere with the physical developmental process. The reasons why different children will exhibit different physical developmental patterns will therefore not only be due to genetic and environmental factors but also to the different hormonal influences, for instance, where the pituitary glands are unable to secrete adequate growth and activating hormones, an individual may experience retarded growth, while where the adrenal androgens are insufficient, the bones and muscles may not develop effectively (Siegleman and Rider, 2008, p.125).

These concepts of human physical development are important since they give an understanding of human growth as an organized sequence that needs to be followed throughout the life of an individual. In addition to enhancing knowledge on developmental patterns from conception to adulthood, they give an important illustration of the reasons behind the unequal rate of physical development between individuals. For instance, an infant has the most rapid growth rate and highly sensitive reflexes (Siegleman and Rider, 2008, p.131); children of two and above years have steady growth and their physical behavior more or less controllable while their physical health may be enhanced not only by nutrition but also physical activity; the adolescents’ physical growth spurt due to increased hormonal secretion and setting in of maturation, where the body takes shape (for both girls and boys) and sexual maturation is reached.

With the understanding of these concepts, a psychologist will be in a better position to establish the causes of certain developmental deficiencies in some individuals and apply corrective measures early enough. Moreover, the psychologist will be able to provide convincing explanations and counseling to individuals who may be psychologically affected by their alleged physical difference, which may or may not necessarily be a developmental problem but a differing growth rate from others.

Sigelman, C. K. and Rider, E. A. (2008). Life-Span Human Development . Sixth Edition. NY: Cengage Learning.

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IvyPanda. (2021, December 9). The Physical Self Concept Analysis.

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  10. How to Write a Self Concept Essay: An In-Depth Guide for Your Academic

    1. Topic. Choosing the topic for your essay is a paramount element of creating it. Determine what interests you the most about the self concept, what issues surrounding the topic appeal to you more intensely than other self concept essay topics. Once you make up your mind about your favorite subject relating to this concept, move on to ...

  11. Self Concept Essay

    The self-concept plays an important part in our overall well-being. It involves the ways we look at our characteristics, how we present ourselves and interact with others, and it even influences our decisions and actions. The self-concept is an awareness that contains knowledge about us.

  12. Dimensions of the Self-Concept

    The self-concept of skills and abilities of a person reveal the personal opportunities and talents in certain spheres of the life. For example, a child may be good in drawing, but bad in writing. An old man can be considered as Jack-of-all trades, because he can do practically everything in a good way. An artist may be extremely creative, but ...

  13. Concept of the Self and Self-Esteem Essay (Critical Writing)

    Among the most common and widely used ways of self, the approach is self-esteem and self-concept. self-esteem refers to how an individual views himself from an emotional or affective aspect. This refers to how an individual feels about himself and also how the individual values himself. This can also be referred to as self-worth.

  14. The Self Concept of Individuals

    Definition The self as a term has been defined by many psychological and philosophical researchers. A general perspective of the self refers to the reflective awareness by an individual as the object under consideration (Fiske, 2010).

  15. Importance Of Self-Concept In Communication

    The self-concept is important to the study of communication because it drives our behavior, influencing our communication with others and ultimately defining our attitudes about ourselves as products of our environment or creators of our environment. In the beginning of the film, Michael's Self Concept about himself is very poor.

  16. The Importance Of Self Concept Clarity

    It is argued that self-concept clarity is as important as self-esteem in understanding the self-concept, influencing human thought, feelings and behaviour in its own unique way. SCC is valuable in that it provides a structural analysis of the self. It also correlates with self-esteem and both influence some similar outcomes.

  17. Development of Self-concept in Students' Learning

    Published: May 31, 2021. Self-concept is the totality of one's knowledge and understanding of his or her own self. It is the process of knowing oneself, one's traits, feelings, behaviors, and limitations. Self-concept is truthfulness towards own self. It maintains objectivity, recognizes fatigue, worry, tensions, and frustrations, helps in ...

  18. 74 Self-Concept Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    Concept of Self, Self-Esteem, and Behavior. The concept of the self According to McLeod self concept is the perception that an individual holds about him or herself. Modern Thinking of Self Concept. In the 20th century, the concept of the self took a new turn with the emergence of behaviorism and other schools of thought on self concept.

  19. Development of Self-Concept throughout Life Stages

    Essay Sample: Introduction A person's self-concept is continually developing during each life stage. Self-concept is an idea of who you are, and how you see yourself. ... It is important that we as care workers understand that self-concept is important so that we can learn and understand our own self-concept to be able to learn to understand ...

  20. Importance of Self-Concept in Communication

    These two domains determine peoples self-concept and also how well one is able to blend in with an external environment in which they live. Most people, from their birth and likely to the last day of their life, have one very important subconsciously asked question in their mind who am I. It is a question of self-concept.

  21. What is Self-Love and Why Is It So Important?

    Self-love doesnt prevent you from caring about others; it simply means you can give yourself the same kindness that you give to others. Putting self-love into practice Often, when things are hard ...

  22. What is a Self-Concept?

    Self-concept is the definition of individual concept of existence for instance as a parent, tutor or college student. The self-concept assists people to come up with and utilize schema as mental templates for organizing the reasons for living and other aspects of the world. According to Klandermans and Roggeband (2009), self-schema is the ...

  23. The Physical Self Concept Analysis

    Sigelman, C. K. and Rider, E. A. (2008). Life-Span Human Development. Sixth Edition. NY: Cengage Learning. This essay, "The Physical Self Concept Analysis" is published exclusively on IvyPanda's free essay examples database. You can use it for research and reference purposes to write your own paper. However, you must cite it accordingly .