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Self Concept. This is what we believe WE are like as a person and what we believe that OTHER people think about us.

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Self Concept

This is what we believe WE are like as a person


what we believe that OTHER people think about us.


Using a character from a TV family, produce a lifeline and predict physical changes, changes in family circumstances, economic changes and environmental changes which could occur over the next 15 years.


20,8,9,19 - 9,19 - 23,8,1,20 - 23,5 -2,5,12,9,5,22,5 - 23,5- 1,18,5 - 12,9,11,5 - 1,19 - 1 - 16,5,18,19,15,14


23,8,1,20, -23,5- 2,512,9,5,22,5- 20,8,1,20- 15,20,8,5,18 - 16,5,15,16,12,5 - 20,8,9,14,11 -1,2,15,21,20- 21,19


Self Concept

Objectives for today's lesson

We are going to learn how ‘Self Concept’ contributes to our growth and development.

This is what we believe WE are like as a person and what we believe that OTHER people think about us.

self concept
Self Concept

We all have a picture of ourselves. – who we are, what we are like inside.

This is the image of ourselves that we like others to see.

This is called our self-concept.

It is based on two things:

What we believe we are like as a person

What we believe that other people think about us.

what is self concept
What is self concept?
  • Self concept means understanding ourselves. To understand ourselves we must first of all have developed self-awareness, but how do we do this?
  • To develop self-awareness we need to build up a picture of ourselves, using:
      • The knowledge we have about ourselves
      • The feedback we receive from other people
  • Self-concept is part of our emotional and

social development.

The view we have of ourselves changes as a result of: the experiences we have

life events

the life stage we are in.

This can affect how we see ourselves.

And whether we have high or low self-concept?

Age makes a big difference to the way children describe themselves and to the way adults think about their lives.
self concept at different ages
Self concept at different ages

Infancy and childhood

  • Newborns have no concept of itself as a person.
  • As children get older they meet a wider range of people and this starts to influence the picture they are forming of themselves.
  • Children do not just do the things

they are taught or imitate, they think

about what is happening and decide

what their own values are. This called

internalising or examining within themselves.

  • Their sense of self is very strong. Adolescence want more independence. They want to make their own decisions. They may not feel very secure about themselves but they have an internal picture of themselves and they want to project so that others can see them. A good awareness helps them to; make decisions, form social and sexual relationships, develop confidence in work roles or in a chosen college course.
  • Adults are recognised by society as being fully independent and responsible for their actions. We are surrounded by images of young, attractive people in advertisements, media, newspapers.
  • The image adults have of themselves is influenced by life events that have been experienced. Some can be positive and some can be negative.
  • Events that can be an influence include:
  • Marriage
  • Starting a family
  • Experiencing divorce
  • From the age of 50 adults may experience discrimination in the workplace and this can have a negative effect on someone’s self concept. They may feel hurt, not valued, feel rejected, or become resentful and angry
older adults
Older Adults
  • In late adulthood some people feel they are not valued,
  • particularly as they have lost their work role. They may have become withdrawn and depressed. They may feel they have nothing to contribute.

Ian is 63. He has worked as a salesman in a furniture store for 30 years. Ian loves his work. He lives on his own so he enjoys meeting the customers and chatting to his colleagues. This is his main social life.

He is called in to see the manager when he arrives at work one day. The manager tells Ian that the firm would like him to take early retirement. This is because they are going to introduce a number of changes and fell that Ian would benefit financially if he were to leave at the end of the month.

The manager makes it clear that he expects Ian to accept the package being offered.

  • How will Ian’s social development be affected by taking early retirement?
  • How do you think Ian’s self-concept might be affected by taking early retirement?
  • Somewhere between 10 and 12 years of age, children start to analyse the ways in which they are like or not like others. All of the following influence how we think of ourselves and others:
  • Shape of our body
  • Hair
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eyes
  • Skin colour
  • Facial features

Many people think there is an ‘ideal’ look that they should resemble. If we think we look good then we have a positive self-image. If we think we do not look good we may have a negative self-image. A negative self-image may contribute to a low self-concept.


Clothes, hairstyle, make up and body shape are seen differently by different people. No one look s attractive to everyone. What you see as attractive may be so because of your own age, culture and lifestyle. The important issue is to feel positive about the way you look. We can easily develop a negative self image if we do not understand the way other cultures or personal beliefs influence other people’s opinions of our appearance. A poor self-image may cause us to lack confidence or to feel depressed about our relationships with other people.

  • Gender is not the same as sex. Someone's sex is determined by their genes. Gender is about the way society expects individuals to behave. Gender affects self-concept because individuals have to learn how other people expect someone of their sex to behave. This is called gender role. Women tend to choose different types of jobs. They are more likely to interrupt their career to look after children. They appear still to put the needs of family before their career so that their progress in the workplace is held back.

Different people have different customs and ways of thinking. Your family or the community where you grew up may have different beliefs and expectations from other families and communities. These differences influence the way we think. We call this range of influences ‘cultural influences’ . This is called ‘norms’ by sociologists.

Culture is shared beliefs, customs and values. It includes things such as language, religion and other faiths, diet, sport and music. It also includes ideas about things like personal modesty, morality and gender roles. Culture binds society together. It gives people a shared identity and a sense of belonging. This is why it is important for someone’s self-concept.

emotional maturity
Emotional Maturity
  • You are now old enough and mature enough to be able to describe your self-concept. Try to describe yourself beginning with your physical appearance. Then try to describe your personality, including what you see to be your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Now swap your description with your partner and discuss whether they think you have described yourself accurately. You may find a difference between your view and theirs.

A person’s understanding of his or her own self-concept is dependent on his or her own emotional and intellectual maturity. A person needs complex language to describe his/her self-concept accurately so language development must come first. For this reason alone small children alone cannot describe their self-concept.

At the age of 2 a child will be able to say if they are a boy or a girl and they may know their age. But they will not be able to describe themselves.

By 10 years a child can describe their appearance, his/her likes and dislikes and aspects of his/her life i.e. home & school. But they will not be emotionally mature enough to compare themselves with another person.

By late adolescence people are emotionally mare enough to draw comparisons with their peer group. The peer group is particularly important at this age. They help them form a view of their self-concept, their environment, personal needs and abstract ideas. They will have clear opinions on many issues.

By the time a person is an adult they will have enough emotional maturity to have personal insight. They will also have the necessary language to describe his/her self-concept in detail.


Our ideas are strongly influenced by our experiences at school. Young people spend more than half their time they are awake at school, doing homework or meeting friends from school. Later experiences at college or university can also confirm our change what we think about ourselves.

relationships with others
Relationships with Others
  • If, on the other hand, a person has poor relationships, particularly within their family, they may lack confidence and probably feel that they are not loved or valued. This could result in them being unable to form lasting relationships in adolescence and adulthood.

An important part of a person’s self-concept is what they believe others think about them. Communication is an important part of all relationships. Good communication skills can help us to form positive relationships. It is in relationships that people find out what others think about them. If a person has a trusting and honest relationship with another person, such as a friend, they may learn from them that others have a higher opinion of them than they thought. This will improve their self esteem.

sexual orientation
Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation refers to our sexual behaviour and choice of partner.

A person’s sexual orientation is certain to form part of his or her self-concept. It will be particularly significant to those who are homosexual. This is because to admit to being homosexual can still be a very traumatic thing to do. A young person who is homosexual may encounter the following problems:

Parents may express sadness or disappointment

Acquaintances may express homophobic attitudes

They may suffer prejudice at work or school

Some people believe that homosexuals should not be allowed to work with children e.g. teachers or social workers

Pensions and housing laws do not allow the same privileges as for heterosexual couples

There is considerable opposition to homosexual couples being allowed to foster or adopt children.


Life Experiences- these are the everyday things that happen to us. A single life experience is not likely to affect our self-concept, but life events considered all together can.

Infants & Children

Infants life experiences are very limited. Carers are responsible for the life experiences of a baby. This will affect their self-concept.

Children begin to make relationships with other people and their life experiences widen. Their self-concept is affected by other relationships with teachers, friends, etc.


Adolescents become increasingly independent and their experiences widen. Most teenagers go through a period of rebellion. Usually parents can put up with this, and the rows and arguments pass. They are left with a good relationship and in turn have a positive self-concept.

If adolescents have a bad relationship with their parents, they are more likely to get in to crime, drugs, or alcohol abuse. They may become promiscuous. This can lead to unwanted pregnancy and it can lead to the chances of sexually transmitted diseases. All these limit their opportunities and have a negative effect on their self-concept.

Older Adults

Many older adults have very positive life experiences. They have good relationships with their families, and enjoy busy, active lives. However, older people can feel devalued by others, which has a negative effect on their self-concept.


Adults life experiences are wider still as they become completely independent. They become workers and set up home themselves. If their experiences are satisfying and they have a satisfactory relationship with their partner then these are positive factors contributing to their self-concept.

Sometimes these experiences are not positive. They may experience bullying in the workplace or within a relationship. They may experience discrimination in their lives, because of their sex, sexuality, race or disability. All of these can negatively affect their self-concept


Individual student analysis


‘Who am I?’ and

‘Why am I like this?’