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CHAPTER 4. Seeking Selfhood. Chapter Overview. The Self-Concept and Personal Growth The Self You’d Like to Be Our Social Selves Learning from Criticism Greater Self-Direction. Seeking Selfhood. Core Characteristics of Self-Concept Self-Consistency Self-Esteem

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chapter 4


Seeking Selfhood

chapter overview
Chapter Overview
  • The Self-Concept and Personal Growth
  • The Self You’d Like to Be
  • Our Social Selves
  • Learning from Criticism
  • Greater Self-Direction



  • Core Characteristics of Self-Concept
  • Self-Consistency
  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Enhancement and Self    Verification
  • What Is Self-Concept?
  • Self-Image
  • Ideal Self
  • Multiple Selves
chapter summary what is the self concept
CHAPTER SUMMARYWhat Is the Self-Concept?


Ideal Self

Multiple Selves

chapter summary cont d core characteristics of the self concept
Chapter Summary cont’dCore Characteristics of the Self-Concept



Self-Enhancement and Self Verification

chapter summary cont d the self concept and personal growth
Chapter Summary cont’dThe Self-Concept and Personal Growth

The Self You’d Like to Be

Our Social Selves

Learning from Criticism

Greater Self-Direction

what is the self concept
What Is the Self-Concept?


  • Self-concept: the overall image or awareness we have of ourselves. It includes all those perceptions of “I” and “me,” together with the feelings, beliefs, and values associated with them.
  • …provides a personal identity or sense of who you are.
  • Most people actively manage their self-concepts so as to maintain a positive view of themselves.
introduction cont d
Introduction cont’d
  • Most people adopt self-serving biases--positive attributions about themselves.
  • Attribution--the process of ascribing the cause of some event.
  • Self-serving attribution--glorifying the self or conceiving of the self as causing the good outcomes that come to us.
  • Self-concept is comprised of many components: body image, ideal self, self-image, social self
self image
  • Self-image--the self “I see myself as”… the self you think you are.
  • …acquired through many self-perceptions over the years that combine.
  • … shaped by significant others.
  • People with a sturdy self-image cope better than those without one.
  • We continually revise our self-image because of experiences.
ideal self
Ideal Self
  • Ideal self--the self you would like to be, including your aspirations, moral ideals, and personal values.
  • … derived from the “shoulds” and “oughts” we learned as children.
  • When it differs from the way we believe others see us, the result may be social anxiety--extreme shyness that interferes with daily life.
  • If ideals seem unattainable, it is wise to revise!
multiple selves
Multiple Selves
  • Self-complexity--the extent to which one’s self-concept is comprised of many differentiated self-aspects.
  • Many different experiences, interactions, successes, failures can lead to a high level of self-complexity.
  • Culture affects self-concept; cultural variations in self, self-complexity exist.
  • People with highly fragmented/incoherent self-concepts have difficulty adjusting.
  • In extreme cases, people may develop mental disorders.
core characteristics of the self concept
Core Characteristics of the Self-Concept


  • …our tendency to perceive our experiences in a manner consistent with our self-concept.
  • Self-concept is not always consistent with all of our experiences…, as Carl Rogers stated, we have had conditions of worth placed on us.
  • Conditions of worth--conditions placed on us such that we only feel loved IF we meet the conditions.
self consistency cont d
Self-Consistency cont’d
  • …we may selectively allow only certain experiences into our reality.
  • Experiences that do not mesh might be distorted to fit our reality.
  • …comparable to what Freud called denial.
  • Another tactic for coping : Self-immunization--trivializing threatening information by making the behavior seem less important. And…
  • Mnemonic neglect--poor recall (or forgetting) of negative feedback that is inconsistent with core aspects of the self-concept.
self esteem
  • …our evaluation of ourselves and the resulting feelings of worth associated with self-concept.
  • …may be the most important component of self in terms of our mental health, coping abilities, and personal growth.
  • Influences on self-esteem: our achievements, rejection by others, estimations of our intelligence, personal appearance, and other attributes.
  • Overall self-esteem is a complex combination of factors.
self esteem cont d
Self-Esteem cont’d
  • Most people enjoy moderately high levels of self-esteem.
  • …it is powerful influence on expectations we have for ourselves.

People with high self-esteem:

    • Like what they see in the mirror
    • Feel comfortable with themselves
    • Regard failures as opportunities
    • Give credit to others when it is due
    • Make realistic demands of themselves
    • Accept compliments graciously

Self-Esteem cont’d

People with low self-esteem:

  • Feel discontented most of the time
  • Brag about or apologize for their achievements
  • Make excuses for failures
  • Try to convert others to their viewpoints
  • Envy others or “put them down” with sarcasm
  • Expect too much or too little of themselves
  • Reject compliments or “qualify” them
  • Withhold affection out of fear of being hurt

Fortunately, self-esteem is an acquired trait: it can be modified or improved!

self enhancement and self verification two competing theories
Self-Enhancement and Self-VerificationTwo competing theories:

Self-enhancement theory

People will try to get positive feedback that affirms their own ideas about their positive qualities.

Self-verification theory

People want to preserve their own images (positive and negative) and therefore elicit feedback from others that verifies or confirms their own self-perceptions.

In summary, people generally prefer positive personal feedback that also confirms self-perceptions.

self enhancement and self verification cont d
Self-Enhancement and Self-Verificationcont’d


Gender role--

a social and cultural expectation about what is appropriate for males or females.

  • Masculinity/femininity? Neither necessarily contributes more to self-esteem.
  • If the attribute being judged is associated with one’s sex role, it is more crucial to self-worth.
women and men cont d

Self-Enhancement and Self-Verificationcont’d

For Example:

  • The feminine sex role promotes social relationships: feminine women with many friends probably have higher esteem.
  • The masculine sex role is more task-oriented; masculine men who accomplish many tasks may have higher esteem than men who don’t.
  • …women possess self-clarity--the extent to which one’s individual self-beliefs are clearly defined, internally consistent, and stable.
  • Overall, men’s and women’s self-esteem levels are similar….

Self-Enhancement and Self-Verificationcont’d

Minority groups--relatively small or have less power as compared to the majority group.

  • Overall, no differences in self-esteem compared to majority.
  • Minorities use the same self-protections for maintaining self-esteem as do Whites.
  • For example, minorities sometimes attribute their failures to prejudice or discrimination…
  • …or minorities compare themselves to each other rather than to the White majority.
the self concept and personal growth
The Self-Concept and Personal Growth

The Self You’d Like to Be

  • Self concept is ever-evolving; self-image changes based on our experiences.
  • New friends, a different job, changes in family circumstances or finances can impact self-concept.
  • Americans spend billions of dollars trying to improve themselves.
  • One “free” method: visualization or guided imagery–a procedure that helps a person shut off the outside world and bypass the censor we call the brain, enabling the person to see, experience, and learn from an intuitive, feeling, unconscious nature.
our social selves
Our Social Selves

Social self--the impressions we think others have of us.

  • We have as many social selves as there are groups of people we know.
  • Errors in social self-perception can occur because of the spotlight effect--we overestimate the salience of our behaviors and our effects on others.
  • Others shape our self-perceptions and our own self-perceptions shape what others think of us!
  • We can change our self-perceptions by changing who we choose to be with!
learning from criticism
Learning from Criticism
  • Most people don’t like to be criticized.
  • We waste energy and feel anxiety when we worry about criticism.
  • Accepting and managing criticism may provide opportunities for growth.
  • Criticism can also provide new and needed information.
  • Criticisms that are repeated may have some kernel of truth to them and merit our attention.
  • If the criticism is worthy of consideration, take positive steps toward self-change.
greater self direction
Greater Self-Direction
  • We also need to listen to ourselves. Underneath it all, we may be asking “Who am I, really?”
  • As we become more comfortable with ourselves, we proceed from “other-directedness” (letting others guide us) to “self-directedness” (creating our own future).
  • For example, as other-directed children become self-directed adolescents, they search for a self-identity. The search may be what adults perceive as negativity!
  • Later stages of self-fulfillment (or self-actualization), are filled with self-directedness.
greater self direction cont d
Greater Self-Directioncont’d

Individuals who are actualizing or are self-directed are MORE:

  • Open to their own experiences
  • Trusting of themselves
  • Accepting of others

Greater Self-Directioncont’d

Individuals who are NOT self-directed are:

  • More dependent on others and feel more obligated to them
  • Likely to seek approval from others rather than seek self-satisfaction
  • Unlikely to self-correct harmful behaviors and attitudes
  • Apt to feel a sense of self-alienation

Personal growth:

  • May be unsettling at times
  • Involves moving away from the familiar and comfortable
  • Means seeing yourself as a different and evolving person
  • Is a never-ending journey!