Definition – Psychologically, the whole set of attitudes opinions and cognitions that a person has of himself, is his self concept.
Self Concept is a multidimensional construct that refers to an individuals perception of 'self‘ in relation to any number of characteristics, such as academics (and non academics), gender roles and sexuality, racial identity and many others. The idea of self concept is utilized in many disciplines including psychology, philosophy, sociology, nursing, biology and anthropology. There is no consensus as to how to define 'Self concept using terms of specificity.
At present the development of self concept among the students is worrying. Most students have low self concept and they are passive in their achievements in school.
According to Gadeyne, E, Ghesquiere, P, & Onghene P. (2004) to develop the students positive self concept, parents need to provide a harmonious household climate, full of happiness and have adequate necessities, while teachers in schools also need to provide a conducive learning environment and be sensitive to the psychological needs of the students.
According to Azizi etal (2005), any man has a picture or perception of himself. This includes looks and appearance, physical health, ability, weakness and his behaviour. Thus self concept is how one evaluates or judges himself that is either in a positive or negative way. Self concept can be classified into two major types that are positive self concept and negative self concept. The positive self concept is about a circumstance or situation in which an individual is confident and sure of him, has good interests, is objective and not too sensitive. A negative self concept is when an individual has too subjective nature.
The individual‘s perception or view of himself is known as his self concept. The part the environment in which he is involved is known as his Phenomenal self and the rest of the environment of which he is aware or to which he responds is called as his phenomenal environment or perceived environment
The self-concept is what the individual thinks of as his actual self. Its 'one‘. The phenomenal or perceived self includes the self- concept and those aspects of the environment that an individual identifies with himself. For example my family,‘ my school', 'my home' etc. Both the self-concept and phenomenal self are included within the phenomenal environment. For example 'Personal field',
'behavioral field‘, 'psychological field or 'life space‘ of an individual.
To an individual, his phenomenal field or private world is reality. so far as he is concerned. Thus he reacts to the world, which he perceives, not the world as perceived by others. This is also conditioned by one‘s psychological needs & with his maturity. For example if you tell a child to stay with another woman having more facilities instead of staying with his mother, he will not agree to leave his mother. This is due to his need of love which he perceives in his mother. So also in case of maturity we cannot change the attitude or develop a concept forcibly in the mind of a child if he does not have attained the maturity for that.
A number of research studies conducted in this field have brought out some very significant conclusions like:
Students of different streams like arts, science & professionals have different self-concept.
Praise & blame has its role in changing the self-concept.
Various studies upon children of various age groups clearly emphasize the importance of self-concept.
Importance of Self Concept
Self concept is important in influencing one‘s goal. Persons with equally high levels of aspiration but quite different self concepts may set quite different goals.
For example – a person who considers himself intellectual and has succeeded in school may decide that he wants to become a college professor or a noted scientist and he perhaps maintains these personal goals. At the same time another person who considers himself intellectual may have experienced failures in school. But in keeping with his self-concept, however, he still may aspire to attain intellectual goals like writing popular magazine articles or becoming an authority on some topic for which formal schooling & certificate is not required. Therefore one‘s self concept plays an important role in his behavior, even in childhood, and influences not only the goals he sets for himself but also the ways in which he goes about achieving these goals.
Conversely, one‘s achievement is an important factor in his self-concept. Many of the personal goals, which we have discussed, are concerned with ways in which the individual can enhance or protect his self-concept. In our culture, achievement is one of the most common ways of enhancing the self-concept, but persons also may strive to be charitable, social, creative or highly religious. T. S. Eliot expressed the importance of the self-concept in human motivation, describing people as "absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."
It has also been shown that among welfare clients, the length of time a person has been on welfare is inversely associated with his level of self-esteem. So self-concept also helps in achieving self-esteem.
In the chapter motivation you have learnt the Maslow‘s theory. In this theory you have also read the motivational hierarchy where the motivational needs are leveled from physiological needs to self-actualization, the desire to utilize the personal capacities.
Self-esteem is the level above love and belonging & below self actualization. When love and belongingness needs are satisfied, self esteem motives become important. This motive involves the desire for:
- Confidence and
At the esteem level, presumably the desire for affectionate relationships has been fulfilled and then achievement, superiority and prestige motives become important which also fulfilled in the highest-level ―Self-actualization‖ is desiring to utilize one‘s personal capacities. You have already known that this hierarchy can be used to motivate an individual to learn. But in this chapter you become aware that it also helps in the development of personality. When one‘s self-esteem motives fulfilled, automatically his personality changes.
Self-esteem is also a characteristic of normal or well- adjusted person.
The well-adjusted person has some appreciation of his own self worth and feels accepted by those around him. He is comfortable with other people and is able to react spontaneously in social situations. At the same time, he does not always feel obligated to subjugate his opinions to those of the groups. Self- esteem therefore is important for mental health. To show the position of self-esteem you can also show the diagram of Maslow‘s motivational hierarchy.
Relation between Self-concept and Self-esteem
The single most important aspect of an individual‘s subjective world is the view he has of himself, often referred to as his self-image or self-concept. The self-concept is what the person thinks he is, regardless of his actual nature or his appearance to others.
Self-esteem means self-respect, self-confidence, feeling of strength & adequacy. Self-esteem includes the perceived self as well as ideal self. It gives worth to other‘s thinking towards him.
Self-concept is essential for self-esteem. But self-esteem is a universal desire. For example whatever may be your nature, good or bad you always want you should be loved & respected by others. If you are good you will be loved & respected by other. If not, you may not. But you want to be respected by others. So when there is mis-match between one‘s perceived self and ideal self, it can be very disturbing.
Our self-concept develops on the basis of information about the way we are and the way others see us. So self-concept is a broad term. It includes in it two distinct sets of meaning. One set has to do with people‘s attitudes about themselves, their picture of the way they look and act, the impact they believe they have on others and their perceived traits, abilities and weaknesses. This collection constitutes what is known as the self-concept, or self image, ―attitudes, feelings, perceptions & evaluation of self as an object.
The second set of meanings relates to the executive functions-processes by which the individual manages, copes, thinks, remembers, perceives and plans.
Sometimes we may change our perception of our experiences in self serving ways, because we need self-esteem.