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Who am I?. The search for the self- Self expression and identity . Module Objectives. The development of identity How do we develop self-esteem? How do children describe others?. Who am I?.

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who am i

Who am I?

The search for the self-

Self expression and identity

module objectives
Module Objectives
  • The development of identity
  • How do we develop self-esteem?
  • How do children describe others?
who am i1
Who am I?
  • Self: A conceptual system made up of one’s thoughts and attitudes about one’s self, including one’s:
    • Body
    • Possessions
    • Thoughts
    • Psychological functioning
self awareness infancy
Self-Awareness: Infancy
  • Early in infancy, infants demonstrate a rudimentary sense of self
    • 8 months
      • Self-awareness becomes more distinct when infants respond to separation from their mother
    • 12 months
      • Self-awareness becomes more distinct when infants show joint attention with others
    • 18 – 20 months
      • Self-awareness becomes more distinct when children can look into a mirror and realize that the image they see is themselves
    • 2 years
      • Self-awareness becomes more distinct when children can recognize themselves in photographs
how would we know that infants recognize themselves in a mirror
How would we know that infants recognize themselves in a mirror?
  • The Rouge Test
    • The mother places a red mark on her infant’s nose and then the infant is placed in front of the mirror
    • 12-month-olds:
      • Touch the red mark on the mirror, showing that they notice the mark on the face in the mirror
    • 15-month-olds:
      • Infants see the red mark in the mirror, and some then reach up and touch their OWN noses
    • 24-month-olds:
      • Infants see the red mark in the mirror, and all then touch their OWN noses
self awareness early childhood
Self-Awareness: Early Childhood
  • By 2-3 years:
    • Children use language – personal pronouns to refer to the self
      • Such as “I” and “me”
    • Children can construct narratives of the events in their lives
  • Between 2 and 3 years of age, self-awareness is quite fragile
    • Toddlers’ self-awareness is not strongly linked across time – it is focused largely on the present
who am i2
Who am I ?
  • Toddlers gradually develop an awareness that they are individual.
  • This awareness becomes the Self Concept which is a person’s understanding of who they are:
    • “I am a girl/boy”
    • “I am a big brother”
    • “I am 4 years-old”
    • “I can tie my shoes!”

They talk mostly about concrete, observable behaviors, physical features, preferences, possessions, and members of the family.

    • At this point, the descriptions are very positive – almost unrealistically positive.

By 2 years of age, most children can recognize themselves and refer to themselves by name or with I and me.

My name is Harvey. I live in a blue house with my mom, dad, and sister Linda. I have a dog that is brown. His name is Bluto. I have a skateboard and a hockey stick. I can skate really fast. I can brush my teeth and wash my hair all by myself. I can jump on one foot 50 times in a row… want to see? I’m not even tired when I stop. I have green eyes and lots of freckles. Most of the freckles are on my nose.
self awareness in childhood
Self-Awareness in Childhood
  • By elementary school, children engage in social comparison
  • Children compare themselves with others in terms of characteristics, behaviors, and possessions
    • “He can run faster than I can”
    • “She scored higher on the test”
  • They pay more and more attention to discrepancies between their own behavior and others’ behavior
self awareness in childhood1
Self Awareness in Childhood
  • By middle to late elementary school, children use higher-order concepts to integrate features of the self and attitudes of others
  • Their self descriptions contain a pronounced social element and focus on personality traits or physical characteristics that may influence their place in the social network.
    • “I am helpful”
    • “To be popular, I have to be nice and keep secrets”
self description
  • I’m a human being. I’m an 11-year-old girl. I’m a truthful person. I’m not pretty. I do so-so in my studies. I’m the best pianist in my class. I’m a little tall for my age. I like several boys. I like several girls. I’m a very good swimmer. I try to be helpful. I’m always ready to be friends with anybody. Mostly I’m good, but sometimes I lose my temper. I don’t know if I’m liked by boys or not.
self awareness adolescence
Self-Awareness: Adolescence
  • In adolescence, the self is defined by abstract characteristics, social competence, and social acceptance
  • Adolescents can conceive of themselves in terms of a variety of selves, depending on the context
    • With friends, siblings, parents, etc…
  • Adolescents create a variety of selves in their search for identity
self description1
  • I'm sensitive, friendly, outgoing, though I can also be shy, self-conscious, and even obnoxious. I'd like to be friendly and tolerant all of the time. That's the kind of person I want to be , and I'm disappointed when I'm not. I'm responsible, even studious every now and then, but on the other hand I'm a good-off too, because if you're too studious, you won't be popular. I'm a pretty cheerful person, especially with my friends, where I can even get rowdy. I can be my true self with my close friends. I can't be my real self with my parents.

They don't understand me.

two general changes in self concept occur from preschool to adolescence
Two general changes in self-concept occur from preschool to adolescence:
  • Self-concept becomes richer as children grow. Adolescents simply know much more about themselves than preschoolers.
  • The type of knowledge that children have of themselves changes. Preschoolers’ understanding is linked to the concrete, the real, and the here and now.

Adolescents’ understanding is more abstract, more psychological, and sees the self as evolving over time.

adolescent thought
Adolescent Thought…
  • The adolescent thinker is more capable of complex thought, as previously discussed, but they experience the return of egocentrism.
  • Adolescents experience cognitive distortions that effect the way adolescents see the world.
    • Imaginary audience
    • Personal fable
    • Illusions of invulnerability
multiple personalities
Multiple personalities?
  • Teenagers can take on a number personas that vary by situation and circumstances.
  • Their behavior can switch from rowdy to reserved, cooperative to antagonistic. Aware of the inconsistencies, teens often ask themselves “which one is the real me?”
marcia s identity statuses
Marcia’s Identity Statuses
  • Identity achievement
  • Moratorium
  • Identity foreclosure
  • Identity diffusion
identity achievement
Identity achievement
  • The ultimate status in adolescence is identity achievement.
  • Adolescents who achieve identity know who they are and remain connected to all the morals and attitudes they have learned earlier, but are not bound to any of them.
  • Some teenagers never fully examine traditional values, which leads to foreclosure.
  • This is premature identity formation, which occurs when an adolescent adopts parents’ or society’s roles and values, without question.

Bob’s father is an engineer. Bob was always encouraged since he was a very young child to follow in his father’s footsteps.

So, what did Bob do?He diligently took classes on math and science to become an engineer.

negative identity
Negative Identity
  • The negative identity is taken on with rebellious defiance, simply because it is the opposite of what the parents or society expect.
  • This identity is formed by direct rebellion and the fact that the child cannot find alternatives that are truly their own.
  • Example: a teacher’s child refuses to go to college, the preacher’s child becomes a prostitute.
identity diffusion
Identity Diffusion
  • Other adolescents experience identity diffusion where they don’t seem to care about their identity.
    • This is displayed by having few commitments or goals and are apathetic about taking on any role.
  • They usually have difficulty completing school, finding a job and thinking about the future.
identity moratorium
Identity Moratorium
  • In the search for identity some teens need a time-out, which is seen in identity moratorium.
  • This is a pause in identity formation that allows young people to explore alternatives without making final identity choices.
    • The most obvious example in the U.S is college, which requires students to sample a variety of academic areas before concentrating on one.
self awareness evolves
Self Awareness evolves…
  • The self concept or self awareness turns from factual to evaluative, becoming self esteem.
    • Self esteem is “self pride”
assessing self esteem
Assessing Self-Esteem

These feelings are based upon self-evaluations of many aspects of one’s life. Below are several aspects of an individual’s functioning. Add up the numbers for each of the 10 items. This is your total self-esteem score.

  • Physical maturity
  • Academic performance
  • Work experiences
  • Financial independence
  • Family relations
  • Peer relations
  • Role in community
  • Sense of values and religiosity
  • Romantic and intimate relationships
  • Coping skills

Very Dissatisfied Very Satisfied

1 2 3 4 5 6

how s your self esteem
How’s YOUR self-esteem?
  • Self-esteem refers to a person’s judgments and feelings about his or her own worth
    • High self-esteem: 45-60
    • Moderate self-esteem: 25-45
    • Low self-esteem: 10-25

Young children’s self-esteem is measured by describing more and less competent people, then asking preschool children which person is more like them.

harter s five domains
Harter’s Five Domains
  • Scholastic competence
      • How competent or smart the child feels in doing schoolwork
  • Athletic competence
      • How competent the child feels at sports and games requiring physical or athletic ability
  • Social acceptance
      • How popular or accepted the child feels in social interactions with peers
  • Behavior conduct
      • How adequate the child feels about behaving the way one is supposed
  • Physical appearance
      • How good looking the child feels and how much the child likes his or her physical characteristics, such as height, weight, face, and hair
harter s self perception profile for children
Harter’s Self-Perception Profile For Children

Sort of True

for me

Really True

for me

Sort of True

for me

Really True

for me

Other kids worry about whether they can do the school work assigned to them

Some kids feel that they are very good at their school work


Other kids find it’s pretty easy to make friends

Some kids find it hard to make friends


Some kids do verywell at all kinds of sports

Other kids don’t feel that they are very good when to comes to sports


Some kids are happy with the way they look

Other kids are not happy with the way they look


Some kids often do not like the way they behave

Other kids usually like the way they behave


does our self esteem change as we develop
Does Our Self-Esteem change as We Develop?
  • Self-esteem is at its peak in the preschool years
  • Children between 2 and 6 develop very favorable impressions of themselves, in fact they overestimate their abilities!
    • They believe they can win any race, count accurately, sing perfectly.

Children of this age enjoy showing off for an audience, grandparents, stuffed animals, peers…

  • Research suggests that children with relatively high self-esteem tend to be more accepted by peers over the years (Verschueren, 2001).
how long can that last
How long can that last?
  • Children during this time feel older, stronger, and more skilled than younger children.
    • One of the worst insults is to call a 4year-old a “baby”
  • Self-esteem drops somewhat when children enter the elementary-school years as they begin to compare themselves with their peers
  • Self-esteem has usually stabilized by adolescence
    • It neither increases nor decreases in these years
self esteem
  • Children with high self-esteem judge themselves favorably and feel positive about themselves.
  • Children with low self-esteem judge themselves negatively, are unhappy with themselves, and often would rather be someone else.
how do i measure up
How do I measure up??
  • Along with this development of social cognition comes the understanding of their own self.
  • School-age children start to make measurements of themselves, comparing themselves to peers
  • Increased understanding of themselves often results in the development of self criticism, which tends to rise as self esteem starts to fall.
  • Ask a child, “Are you good?”, rather than simply answering “yes”, older children might use a specific standard set by adults. This is social comparison
social comparison
Social Comparison
  • Social comparison is the tendency to assess one’s abilities, achievements, social status and attributes by measuring them against those of their peers.
    • Older children lose the rosy, imaginary assessment of their behaviors that we saw in younger children and they tend to feel personally at fault for their shortcomings and they are less likely to blame someone else.
  • Children compare themselves against peers even when no one else explicitly makes the comparison.
social contributions to self esteem
Social Contributions to Self-Esteem
  • Peer acceptance is important to self-esteem
  • Children’s feelings of competence about their appearance, athletic ability, and likeability is more affected by peers than by parents
  • Children develop an internalized standard by which to judge themselves

A child with low self-esteem is a likely candidate for being teased, rejected, or ignoredA child with high self-esteem is likely to be well liked

is the peer group that important
Is the peer group that important?
  • Most developmentalists consider getting along with peers to be crucial during middle childhood. Research conducted by Borland (1998) concluded that “friends and being part of a peer group were central to living a full life and feeling good.”
  • Being rejected by peers is a serious precursor to later problems, including juvenile delinquency, depression and drug abuse.
social contributions to self esteem1
Social Contributions to Self-Esteem
  • One of the most important influences on children’s self-esteem is the approval and support children receive from others
  • The “Looking-Glass Self” is the concept that people’s self-esteem is a reflection of what others think of them.
      • If children feel loved, they believe that they are worthy of others’ love
      • If children do not feel loved, they believe they are not worthy of others’ love
what are the sources of self worth
What are the Sources of Self-Worth?
  • For children 8 to 12 years of age:
    • Physical appearance most important
    • Social acceptance second
    • Less critical to self-worth were schoolwork, conduct and athletics
  • Harter found that American children judge themselves more by good looks and popularity
appearance and competence
Appearance and Competence
  • Attractive individuals are more likely to report high self-esteem than those who are less attractive
      • May be stronger for girls than for boys – particularly in late childhood and adolescence
  • Children who are academically successful tend to have higher self-esteem with respect to their intellectual and academic competence than do their less successful peers
      • Achievement affects children’s self-esteem more than self-esteem affects academic achievement
what are the consequences of low self esteem
What are the Consequences of Low Self-Esteem?
  • Children with low self-esteem are:
    • More likely to have problems with their peers (Hymel et al., 1990)
    • More prone to psychological disorders such as depression (Garber, Robinson, & Valentiner, 1997)
    • More likely to be involved in antisocial behavior (Dubow, Edwards, & Ippolito, 1997)
    • More likely to do poorly in school