The Development of Self Concept: An Overview
Self concept is an important aspect in psychology which has been widely researched upon. It is related to one’s sense of identity and how they feel about themselves. The self concept is continually developing during an individual’s lifetime (Cherry, n.d). It starts to develop during childhood, and continues to evolve during adolescence and adulthood. There are many factors which can influence the development of self concept, such as family, friends, culture, media and experiences. In this essay, the focus will be on discussing the development of self concept, and outlining some of the key factors which can impact on its formation.
2. What is self concept?
The self concept is a cognitive process whereby an individual gains an understanding of their own identity (Rosenberg, 1965). It includes aspects such as beliefs about personality, physical appearance and abilities. The self concept starts to develop in early childhood, and continues to evolve throughout one’s lifetime. It is important to note that the self concept is not static, but rather it is constantly changing and adapting as a person experiences new things and grows older (Cherry, n.d).
3. Development of self concept
During infancy, infants start to develop a sense of self through their interactions with others (Cherry, n.d). For example, they may learn that they are separate individuals from their parents through activities such as feeding or dressing. As they grow older and begin to explore their surroundings more, they will develop a more complex understanding of who they are. By the time they reach adolescence, teenagers will have a well-defined sense of self. This is often characterised by increased independence from parents or guardians, and a greater focus on peer relationships (Cherry, n.d).
One of the key developmental tasks during adolescence is developing a sense of identity (Erikson, 1968). This involves exploring different roles and behaviours, and eventually settling on a consistent sense of self. For many people, this process is completed by the time they reach adulthood. However, some individuals may continue to struggle with their identity well into adulthood (Cherry, n.d).
4. Factors influencing the development of self concept
There are many different factors which can impact on the development of self concept (Cherry, n.d). These include family relationships, peer groups, culture and media influences.
Family relationships can have a significant impact on the development of self concept (Harter & Monsour 1992). For example, children who have supportive and loving parents are more likely to have positive beliefs about themselves than those who do not have such positive relationships with their parents. Similarly, children who are raised in homes where there is conflict or violence are more likely to have negative beliefs about themselves (Harter & Monsour 1992).
Peer groups also play an important role in the development of self concept (Collins & Laursen 2004). Children who spend more time with peers who are similar to them in terms of age, ability and interests are more likely to develop a positive sense of self than those who do not have such close relationships with their peers. Additionally, children who are rejected or bullied by their peers are more likely to have negative beliefs about themselves (Collins & Laursen 2004).
Culture can also influence the development of self concept (Cross & Madson 1997). For example, individuals who come from cultures where there is a strong emphasis on individualism are more likely to have strong beliefs about themselves than those who come from collectivist cultures where the focus is on the group rather than the individual.
Finally, media influences can also play a role in the development of self concept (Thompson & Heinberg 1999). For example, exposure to idealised images of beauty in the media can create unrealistic expectations about one’s own physical appearance, leading to negative beliefs about self.
In conclusion, it is clear that self concept is a complex cognitive process which develops over time. There are many different factors which can influence the development of self concept, such as family relationships, peer groups, culture and media influences. It is important to understand the different factors which can impact on self concept, as this can help to promote positive beliefs about self and prevent negative ones from developing.