What is self concept definition

Self-Concept: Definition, Examples, & Psychology Theories

Self-Concept: Definition, Examples, & Psychology Theories

By Tchiki Davis, MA, PhD

What is the self-concept? Where does it come from and what are the different pieces of self-concept, according to psychological theories? Find the answers here.

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What Is Self-Concept? (A Definition)

Self-concept is often defined as the image we have of our bodies, capabilities, impressions, etc.... (Bailey, 2003). But let's break the definition of self-concept down a bit more to understand it better. Some have suggested that self-concept involves a variety of different things we know about ourselves. So our self-concept may include knowing our material self, interpersonal self, and intrapersonal self (Epstein, 1973).

  • Material self. Our body, possessions, and other things in our lives.
  • Interpersonal self. The views others hold about us.
  • Intrapersonal self. Our emotions, desires, needs, values, etc...

At its most basic, self-concept is the answer we give when asked the question "Who am I?" And of course, that answer includes multiple parts.

​​✓  ​Before we dive deeper into self-concept, we thought you might also be interested in taking our well-being quiz to learn more about your personal well-being.
✓  Or, if you're a well-being entrepreneur or coach, download our Wellness Business Growth eBook to get expert tips, tools, and resources to share with your audience.

Theory of existential and categorical self-concepts
Another important part of the self-concept is the realization that we are individual objects (although the extent to which this is true varies across cultures) and we can direct our own actions (Johnson, 1967).  Our self-concept also includes an awareness that we are part of categories—categories based on our age, gender, race, etc... That means that our self-concept is a complex and multifaceted thing.

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Is Self-Concept a 'Looking-Glass Self'?

Early psychologists noticed that we often perceive ourselves the same way that others perceive us. This tendency was referred to as the looking glass self (Epstein, 1973). They theorized that the self-concept emerges from social interactions because we humans are concerned with how others see us. Our 'self' then changes depending on which social role we're playing. For example, our self-concept may be different in the context of our romantic relationship than it is when we are at work. And we may have other self-concepts when are with our parents or with our friends.

Does Self-Concept Hold Together The Personality?

Our personality includes personal characteristics, values, and beliefs. There are a lot of parts to synthesize. So some people theorize the self-concept is something like the glue that holds all the pieces together or a map that shows how different parts relate to one another.

​As we grow older and experience new things, these individual pieces of our personality change and evolve. So the self-concept has another role to play—it helps integrate new pieces into the whole. The self-concept may also determine which new aspects of personality are acceptable. If new parts don't jive with the old parts, they may not be allowed, thus ensuring that our sense of self remains reliable and in-tact (Epstein, 1973).

Is Self-Concept Stable?

Many theories suggest that the self-concept is quite stable  (although our actions may deviate quite a bit from our self-concept). And we prefer it this way (Epstein, 1973). We want to think of ourselves as consistent, and the idea that our self could change radically across time or situations can be stressful and disconcerting.

​Indeed, the self-concept may only include things that we are aware of and have control over. That way we feel like we have some stability of self, even if our self is not really that stable.

What Are the Most Important Parts of the Self-Concept?

Each of us has parts of ourselves that we believe are the most important (Epstein, 1973). For example, an athlete might view their athleticism to be of central importance to their self-concept even though they also enjoy cooking and are part of a big family. Some have even suggested that the self is arranged hierarchically, with relatively important parts above less important parts. But each of us decides which parts are important to us.

Is Self-Concept Just a Self-Theory?

We can think of self-concept like it is a theory we have about ourselves. The more nuanced and detailed the theory, the better it is. That means the more awareness we have about our feelings, characteristics, values, needs, beliefs, etc..., the better we'll understand ourselves. This may make us more flexible and open to new experiences ​(Epstein, 1973). On the other hand, a narrow self-theory may make us rigid, as we are unable to incorporate new ideas, perspectives, and knowledge into our self-concept.

Another thing that makes a good theory is when it is well-integrated and organized. And indeed, it is theorized that a poorly integrated self-concept might result in low stability. For example, if we have two values that contradict each other, we might bounce back and forth between them, leading others to view us as unreliable or unstable. And due to the looking glass self, we might then also view ourselves as unstable.

How we test and learn about our self-theory
Much of our initial self-theory is learned from our parents—they tell us what to believe, how to feel, and how to act. If we go out into the world and have experiences that contradict the self-theory our parents gave us then we may start to change and modify it (Epstein, 1973). For example, if a child is taught to believe in Santa Claus, and then one year Santa doesn't come anymore, the child may modify his beliefs. He no longer views himself as someone who believes in Santa Claus.

As we grow older, contradictory evidence may have less of an impact on our self-concept. Remember, we have a need for self-consistency. So it can be hard to integrate external information, particularly if it disrupts important aspects of the self-concept.

​We often see this with politics. For example, it may be difficult for us to accept that an abortion may prevent a baby from being born or that eating a hamburger may result in an animal being cruelly treated because if we accept those beliefs, it can wreak havoc on how we see ourselves as a whole. Maybe we have gotten an abortion or eaten an abused cow. So it can make us question our values and mess with our self-esteem. So it's completely natural not to want to entertain possibilities that go against our self-concept.

Video: More On Self-Concept Theories

How Does Self-Concept Relate to Well-Being?

In addition to the aspects described above, there are other aspects of self-concept that may play a bigger role in well-being. These include:

  • Self-image. The way you see yourself.
  • Self-esteem (or self-worth). The extent to which you value yourself or believe you have worth.
  • Ideal-self. The vision you have of your best self.

​Let's talk about each of these a bit to understand their unique roles in well-being.

What is Self-Image?

The terms self-image and self-concept are sometimes used interchangeably, but more often, self-image is defined as to how you see yourself. This may be literal, like when looking in the mirror. But it can also involve mental representations of yourself. These may or may not be consistent with what one sees in the mirror.

For example, the TV show 'The Swan' which ran in America in the early 2000s, shared the stories of women who dieted, exercised, and got plastic surgery until they looked beautiful (by society's standards). But changing these women's external appearance did not change their self-image—many of them still had low self-esteem and difficulty merging their new look with their existing self-concepts.

Indeed, our self-image is often quite resistant to change. This may be because we developed it when we were very young and it was likely confirmed through many social interactions throughout our lives.

What is Self-Esteem (or Self-Worth)?

Self-esteem is broadly defined as the extent to which we like or value ourselves. This generally includes evaluating two parts of ourselves (Tafarodi & Swann Jr, 2001).  

  • Intrinsic value. This refers to our belief that we are a good (or not-so-good) person. If we have intrinsic value, then we value ourselves just for being who we are. This is also sometimes thought of as the extent to which we like ourselves.
  • Instrumental value. This refers to our belief that we can do good things. If we have instrumental value, then we value ourselves because of the things we do. This is also sometimes thought of as the extent to which we respect ourselves.

Self-esteem quiz
Ask yourself these questions to get a better understanding of your current level of self-esteem (IPIP):

  • Do you feel comfortable with yourself?
  • Do you know that you will be successful?
  • Do you know your strengths?

Usually, we fall somewhere on a continuum between yes and no. Getting a sense of where you fall on this continuum can help you better understand your self-esteem.

What Is the Ideal Self?

The ideal self is defined as the self we would like to be—our best self. It appears to originate from the ideal selves that our parents hold for us and communicate to us through childhood Zentner & Renaud, 2007). 

​In positive psychology, the ideal self is thought to include three parts (Boyatzis, & Akrivou, 2006).

  • The image of our desired future. This may include dreams, aspirations, and goals.
  • Hope. This includes self-efficacy and optimism (beliefs that we can indeed achieve our goals).
  • A clear self-concept. This includes an understanding of our core identity and enduring traits. Our ideal self needs to fit with our values, beliefs, and who we are.

Our ideal self is a vision of what we could be or do. That's why the ideal self is thought to be a helpful motivator—it inspires us to progress towards goals and improve our lives in beneficial ways. It may also include aspirations, passions, big dreams, and purpose—all things that tend to be good for our well-being.

Why the ideal self matters
Here are some questions to ask yourself to better understand your relationship with your ideal self.

Do you know your ideal self?
If we don't know our ideal self, we may not have good direction or a map that helps us move forward. We may not know our desired future or who we want to become.

Is your ideal self important to you?
If we don't think our ideal self is important, we may give up on goals, fail to keep promises, or have difficulty living according to our values. Each of these things may prevent us from living our best life.

Does the image of your desired future fit with your self-concept?
If your desired future doesn't fit with your current beliefs, traits, and feelings, you may end up feeling distressed or experience unintended consequences when pursuing your ideal self (Boyatzis, & Akrivou, 2006).

Self-Concept Examples

Once we have a better idea of our self-concept, we use these insights to describe ourselves. So, for example, we might say things like:

  • I am a strong woman. This self-concept likely comes from a mixture of personality traits, experiences that one lived through, and a perception of one's self as being capable of handling future difficulties.
  • I am spiritual. This may come from many years of engaging in behaviors that other people consider to be spiritual or from having a set of beliefs about the way the world works. It's probably both.
  • I am good at X (e.g., fixing a  car, being a lawyer, or other things). This might come from years of doing something successfully, and being praised by others for doing so.

Differences Between Self-Concept and How Others See Us

​In a past article, I wrote about my experience asking others to report on my strengths. It was actually really interesting to see how some descriptions of myself were the same as theirs, but others were not. Here, you can see a world cloud of often my friends and family used a particular word to describe me.

I tend to see myself as a creative, independent, resilient, and positive person, but I didn't see myself as especially supportive. And the most common thing people said about me was I am determined. I agree that this describes me, but I never realized that this was such a big part of how others see me. 

Doing reflections on how you see yourself and then asking others to provide feedback can really open the door to learning new things about yourself. So I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Activities for Learning More About Your Self-Concept

In addition to the exercise above, there are other techniques you can use to learn more about your self-concept. To gain more awareness about yourself, consider trying out these activities.

  • What are your strengths? In this activity, you'll explore your strengths and how to make use of them.
  • Best Self Activity. In this activity, you'll explore your best possible self (or your ideal self).
  • Positive qualities. In this activity, you'll discover your positive qualities and attributes.

Articles for Learning More About Your Self-Concept

Need some more help learning about who you are? These articles may be helpful.

  • Self-Awareness: How to Be More Self-Aware
  • Introspection: Definition (in Psychology), Examples, and Questions​
  • "Who Am I?" + Other Questions to Know Yourself Better​
  • Be Authentic: 19 Ways To Be Your Authentic Self
  • Knowing Your Worth: How to Boost Self-Worth and Self-Confidence
  • ​Self-Reflection: Definition and How to Self-Reflect
  • Self-Affirmations: Definition, 195 Examples, & Lists

Final Thoughts on Self-Concept

Our self-concept is an important guiding principle that helps us navigate the world and understand our role in it. Parts of our self-concept may be good or not-so-good for our well-being. That's why learning more about our own self-concept may be beneficial.

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  • ​Bailey 2nd, J. A. (2003). Self-image, self-concept, and self-identity revisited. Journal of the National Medical Association95(5), 383.
  • ​Boyatzis, R. E., & Akrivou, K. (2006). The ideal self as the driver of intentional change. Journal of management development.
  • Epstein, S. (1973). The self-concept revisited: Or a theory of a theory. American psychologist28(5), 404.
  • International Personality Item Pool (IPIP). ipip.ori.org.
  • ​Johnson, E. L. (1967). Existentialism, Self Theory and the Existential Self. The Personnel and Guidance Journal46(1), 53-58.
  • ​Tafarodi, R. W., & Swann Jr, W. B. (2001). Two-dimensional self-esteem: Theory and measurement. Personality and individual Differences31(5), 653-673.
  • ​Zentner, M., & Renaud, O. (2007). Origins of adolescents' ideal self: An intergenerational perspective. Journal of personality and social psychology92(3), 557​

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What is Self Concept? It's Definitions, Nature & Theories

Home »Social Psychology»What is Self Concept? It’s Definitions, Nature & Theories

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  • 1 Introduction to Self Concept
    • 1. 1 Definitions of Self Concept
  • 2 Nature of Self Concept
  • 3 Aspects of Self
    • 3.1 1.Self Awareness 
    • 3.2 2.Self Image
    • 3.3 3.Self Efficacy
    • 3.4 4.Self Esteem
  • 4 Theories of Self Concept
    • 4.1 Real self (self image)
    • 4.2 Ideal self
  • 5 Signs of Negative Self Concept in Adolescents
  • 6 References

Introduction to Self Concept

The self concept is the way we perceive ourselves and the ideas we hold about our competencies and attributes. In this article, we will discuss all about self, its nature, its theories and most importantly its role in our social life.

It is the accumulation of knowledge about the self, such as beliefs regarding –

  • Personality traits
  • Physical characteristics
  • Abilities
  • Values
  • Goals
  • Roles

In adolescence, the self-concept becomes more abstract and complex. Moreover, it becomes hierarchically organized into cognitive mental representations or self-schemas, which direct the processing of self-relevant information.

Parents, friends, teachers and other significant persons play a vital role in shaping a child’s ideas about self. Our interaction with other people, our experiences, and the meaning we give to them, serve as the basis of our self. The
structure of self is modifiable in the light of our own experiences and the experiences we have of other people.

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Definitions of Self Concept
  • Harter (1996)- ‘The self concept is our total image of us. It is our total picture of our abilities and traits. It is basically cognitive construct which determines how we feel about ourselves and guides our actions’.
  • Purkey (1988) – ‘Self concept is defined as the totality of perceptions each person has of themselves’.
  • According to Symonds (1957) self is the way individual reacts to himself. There are four aspects –
  1. How a person perceives himself?
  2. What he thinks about himself?
  3. How he values himself?
  4. How he enhances or defends himself?
  • American Psychological Association (APA) – self concept is  ‘One’s description and evaluation of oneself, including psychological and physical characteristics, qualities, skills, roles and so forth. Self-concepts contribute to the individual’s sense of identity over time,.

Nature of Self Concept

In order to understand the nature of self concept, we need to be aware that there is a difference between ‘self’ and ‘self concept’ A person’s self-image is based on how they see themselves. On the other hand, self-concept is a more comprehensive evaluation of the self. Moreover, it is largely based on how a person sees themselves, values themselves, thinks about themselves, and feels about themselves.

The development of self concept of a person happens keeping various aspects in mind. Aspects like Motivation, Need, Attitude, Temperament, etc. hence, the self concept is quite subjective.

What fuels this development or change ? The answer is introspection. We often look back and introspect our thoughts, behaviors and actions. This helps in fueling the change that is needed in an individual’s self concept. Consequently, it plays a huge role in molding one’s personality.

The structure of self is subsequently shaped through interaction with the environment, particularly the environment composed of  significant others ( e.g. parents, siblings, relatives). In other words, as the child becomes socially sensitive and as his or her cognitive and perceptual abilities mature. The self concept becomes increasingly differentiated and complex. To a large extent, then the  content of one’s self concept is a social product.

For example, a person is friendly and easy going, thus, experiences positiveness more. This will, in turn, affect his  / her perception of oneself positively. Therefore, that person is very likely to be an optimist.

Aspects of Self

There are four major aspects of self. They are self awareness, self image, self efficacy and self esteem.

1.Self Awareness 

It is the quality or trait that involves conscious awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors and traits. (Cherry, 2018 A). It is the understanding that a person has separate identity from others. According to Piaget, self consciousness starts emerging between 15-24 months.

2.Self Image

Self image is a personal view or mental picture that we have of ourselves. It is an internal dictionary that describes an individual including things such as intelligent, beautiful, ugly, talented, selfish or kind, etc. This aspect is dynamic and changing.

3.Self Efficacy

Self efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to accomplish some specific goal or a task. It depends on one’s trust in his / her own competency. Maddux (2002) defined it as ‘what I believe I can do with my skills under certain conditions’.

4.Self Esteem

Self esteem is respect one has for himself. According to Seligman, self esteem is ‘your overall evaluation of your worth as a person, high or low, based on all positive and negative self perceptions.

Theories of Self Concept

According to Carl Rogers, every individual has tendency to actualize himself. In addition, mentally healthy individuals have congruence between their experience and their self concept. Whereas, neurotic individuals deny awareness of their sensory and emotional experience.

For example, if a mentally healthy student is facing failure in exams, he will find out the reasons and will try to overcome his weakness. But those who deny this experience, may accept escapist attitude. Moreover, he / she may give false excuses, will not accept the failure and blame others for it.

There are two important concepts related to this :

Real self (self image)

Real self is what we actually are. It is very important for good psychological health. A teenager may perceive himself as beautiful or ugly, good or bad person. Self image directly affects how a person feels, thinks and acts in this world.

The real self, which is created and  developed through the actualizing tendency, it is the self that one can become.

It is our inner personality. It may not be perfect but it is our real part (Grice, 2007).

Ideal self

It is what we want to be. For example, a girl may want to be a dancer or a boy may want to be a cricketer. It represents our dynamic ambitions and goals.

By Ideal self, Rogers meant some goals which are beyond our reach. Rogers is suggesting something not real, the standard we can not meet. It is basically equivalent to the superego in Freudian Theory. (Hjelle & Ziegler, 1992)

This may result in the gap between real self and ideal self.

If ideal self and real self are similar, our self concept is accurate. High congruence between real self and ideal self leads to greater sense of self worth and a healthy, productive life. When there is large gap or incongruence between them, it leads to maladjustment.

Signs of Negative Self Concept in Adolescents

Several signs may indicate that an adolescent has a negative self-concept. These may include one or more of the following:

  • Doing poorly in school
  • Having few friends
  • Putting down one self and others
  • Rejecting compliments
  • Teasing others
  • Showing excessive amounts of anger
  • Being excessively jealous
  • Appearing conceited
  • Hesitating to try new things

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  • Baron, R. A. and Byrne, D. (1997). Social Psychology, 8th edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
  • egyankosh.ac.in
  • Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, Pune.
  • National Council of Educational Research and Training

CategoriesSocial PsychologyTagsAmerican Psychological Association (APA), Approaches to Social Psychology, Aspects of Self, carl rogers, Definitions of Self Concept, ideal self, Nature of Self Concept, real self, self concept, self efficacy, self esteem, self image, self-awareness, Signs of Negative Self Concept in Adolescents, Social Cognition, social life, Theories of Self Concept

1 The concept of self-esteem in psychology

AT psychological research self-esteem interpreted as personal education that takes direct participation in the regulation of behavior and activities as an autonomous personality trait, central component, emerging with the active participation of the individual and reflecting quality peculiarly her inner world (L. I. Bozhovich, A. G. Kovalev, K. K. Platonov and others). Leading role devoted to self-assessment within the framework research on problems of self-awareness: it is characterized as a core this process, indicator individual level of development, integrating principle, its personal aspect, organically included in the process of self-consciousness (K. G. Ananiev, I. O. Kon, A. G. Spirkin, V. V. Stolin and others).

Consider for example, some definitions the concept of self-esteem.

Psychological dictionary edited by V.P. Zinchenko, B. G. Meshcheryakova claims that self-assessment (English) self-esteem) - value, the importance that the individual attaches to yourself as a whole and individual aspects of your personality, activities, behavior [1].

AND. I. Chesnokova writes that under self-esteem commonly understood as internalized mechanism of social contacts, orientations and values ​​converted into an assessment personality itself, its capabilities, qualities and places among other people [2].

By A. A. Reanu, self-esteem is a component self-awareness, including along with knowledge about oneself a person's assessment of his physical characteristics, abilities, moral qualities and actions [3].

Definitions data in the Psychological Dictionary, A. A. Rean and I. I. Chesnokova, in our opinion, do not reveal the ways of formation self-esteem, do not give it sufficient essential characteristic. Therefore, in In this course work, we will use the definition of A. V. Zakharova: self-esteem is a form of reflection a man of himself as special object of knowledge, representing accepted values, personal meanings, a measure of orientation towards social developed requirements for behavior and activities [4].

Self-esteem reflected in the situation of self-evaluation. She represents intellectual-reflexive action: the individual considers himself actions and qualities as an object of evaluation and at the same time is a carrier given qualities, i. e. active subject [5].

presenter self-assessment plays a role within self-awareness research: it is characterized as the core of this process, indicator of individual level of his development, his personal aspect organically included in the process self-knowledge. In addition, self-esteem enters into the structure of self-consciousness. For example, R. Burns understands the self-concept as a set of attitudes "on oneself". Accordingly, he distinguishes its following components:

one) the image of "I" - an individual's idea of to himself;

2) self-appraisal - affective appraisal of this representation, which may different intensities because specific features of the "I" image can evoke more or less strong emotions, associated with their acceptance or condemnation;

3) potential behavioral response, i.e. those specific actions that can be caused by the image of "I" and self-esteem [6].

S. L. Rubinshtein, points out that self-assessment is the most important component of holistic self-awareness personality is a necessary condition harmonious relationship of man with oneself, as well as with other people, with which he enters into communication and interaction [7].

Psychological research convincingly proves that the characteristics of self-esteem affect and emotional state, and the degree satisfaction with their work, study, life and relationships with others. However, self-esteem itself depends on the above factors [8].

So Thus, self-esteem is a form of reflection a man of himself as special object of knowledge, representing accepted values, personal meanings, a measure of orientation towards social developed requirements for behavior and activities. Self-esteem is component of the self-concept. She defines character of human social behavior, his activity, the need for achievements, goal setting and productivity activities. Therefore, many scientists agree that self-esteem is if not the core of personality, then at least at least one of the most important personal formations.

Various theoretical approaches to the definition of the concept of self-esteem.


UDC 159.9

A.V. Gayfulin


Regional Branch "Association of Scouts of the Tomsk Region"

The concept of "self-esteem" includes a wide range of physical, behavioral, psychological and social manifestations of a person associated with an individual's assessment of himself in these characteristics. The study of this concept traditionally begins with an analysis of the self-awareness of the individual. That is, self-consciousness is the formation from which they isolate and try to find a place for self-esteem. Often, researchers of self-esteem, when studying it, seemed to use such identical terms: self-consciousness, self-attitude, self-esteem, and self-esteem itself. However, despite the identity, there are certain conceptual differences that make it possible to define the term "self-esteem" itself.

In the most general terms, we note that the term "self-esteem" in psychological literature is understood as a complex system that determines the nature of the individual's self-relationship and includes general self-esteem, reflecting the level of self-esteem, holistic acceptance or non-acceptance of oneself, and partial, particular self-esteem, characterizing the attitude towards individual aspects of his personality, actions, success of certain activities. “Self-esteem can be of different levels of awareness” [11, p. 343]. In modern psychological science, there are a number of theoretical approaches related to the problem of self-esteem, the nature of its formation and development.

Domestic science in the context of the fundamental principles of L.S. Vygotsky considers self-esteem as a component of a person's self-consciousness in the concept of activity and communication: "All processes of self-consciousness are of an indirect nature, since they develop in a person's activity and his communication with other people" [14, p. 174]. In the works of researchers of the Soviet period, B.G. Ananyeva, L.I. Bozhovich, A.N. Leontiev, S.L. Rubinstein, I.I. Chesnovoy, V. V. Stolina, A. G. Spirkina in general theoretical and methodological aspects, the issue of the formation of self-consciousness and self-

evaluation in the context of personal development. These authors understand self-esteem as a complex and multifaceted component of self-consciousness (a complex process of mediated knowledge of oneself, deployed in time, associated with movement from single, situational images through the integration of such situational images into a holistic formation - the concept of one's own), which is a direct expression of the assessment of other persons participating in personality development [3, 6, 7]. A.N. At the same time, Leontiev adds an emotional aspect to the cognitive component, proposing to comprehend self-esteem through the category of “feeling” as a stable emotional attitude that has a “pronounced objective character, which is the result of a specific generalization of emotions” [9, With. 304]. This connection between the cognitive and emotional components is formulated by I.I. Chesnokova, revealing self-esteem as generalized results of self-knowledge and emotionally valuable attitude towards oneself, singles out general self-esteem as a synthesis and generalization of individual self-esteem, which reflects the individual's understanding of its essence. “Experiences associated with self-consciousness are generalized into an emotionally valuable attitude towards oneself. The generalized results of self-knowledge and the emotional and value attitude towards oneself are fixed in self-esteem, which is included in the regulation of personality behavior as one of the defining motives” [14, p. 89]. In the works of I.I. Chesnokova (1978), V.V. Stolin (1983), S.R. Panteleev (1993) and a number of other authors, self-esteem is called the central link in the sphere of personality self-consciousness, which primarily performs regulatory functions in behavior. Researchers justifiably associate the development of this function with the formation of its stability, since it is a stable SD that expresses the already formed attitude of a person towards himself and can have a significant impact on his behavior.

According to most authors [Zakharova, 1989; Stolin, 1983; Berne, 1986, etc.], the effective nature of SO is manifested in the unity of its two components - cognitive and emotional. M.I. Lisina (1983) and other researchers note that there are fundamental differences in the genesis of these two mental formations. The cognitive part of the image (as well as the idea of ​​one's capabilities) arises mainly as a result of the experience of the child's individual activity, the affective part - due to the experience of communication and interaction, where the child assimilates the attitude of the people around him (although important cognitive elements of the image are also born in communication) [ one].

The most productive position in the study of the development of children's self-awareness is presented in the studies of M.I. Lisina and her students. Characterizing the structure of the child's self-consciousness, M.I. Lisina emphasized that the reflection of individual qualities is on the periphery of the image of the Self, and the place of its central, nuclear formation, called “general self-esteem”, is occupied by the “holistic attitude of the child to himself”, which is implicitly based on the attitude of close adults to the child. In those cases when adults do not express their attitude towards the baby, but confine themselves to physical care (as is the case, for example, in children's homes), the child does not distinguish himself, and his self-consciousness remains undeveloped [1].

Rubinshtein adds that self-esteem expresses the fundamental properties of the personality and, along with other factors, reflects its direction and activity [12]. From modern developments, the theory of

O.A. Belobrykina, the author singles out general self-esteem as the basic core of a personality, which includes a stable body of knowledge about oneself and private self-esteem, which are formed on the basis of the performance of certain activities by a person [3]. Also noteworthy is the theory of R. Azimova, where self-esteem is understood as an active dynamic system that determines the positive and negative structure of the intentions and actions of the individual [2, p. 99]. Foreign psychologists Burns and Coopersmith consider self-esteem as an emotional component of the self-concept (the content structure of self-consciousness), associated with the attitude towards oneself or one's individual qualities [5]. And they define it as the degree to which an individual reflects a sense of self-esteem, a sense of his own value and a positive attitude towards everything that enters the sphere of his Self. Within the framework of the value organization of the personality, T. Shibutani considers self-esteem: functional unity is self-esteem” [15, p. 220]. The author of this term is W. James0003

defines self-esteem as an assessment of one's position in society, one's success or failure in life. “Self-esteem is of two kinds: self-satisfaction and dissatisfaction with oneself. However, it can be said that the normal stimulus of well-being for a person is his favorable or unfavorable position in society - his success or failure” [8, p. 86]. James also highlights self-esteem as a more short-term aspect of self-esteem, linking it to the level of aspirations of the individual. “Self-esteem is determined by the ratio of our actual abilities to potential, supposed ones - a fraction in which the numerator expresses our actual success, and the denominator our claims” [8, p. 9one]. Based on these considerations, W. James derived the formula:

Self-esteem = Success / Level of claims.

As the numerator increases or the denominator decreases, the fraction will increase. Renunciation of claims gives us the same desirable relief as the implementation of them in practice. Our well-being, I repeat, depends on ourselves. “Equate your claims to zero,” says Carleste, “and the whole world will be at your feet” [8, p. 93].

Representatives of symbolic interactionism D. Mead and C. Cooley consider self-esteem as a result of the interaction between the individual and the group: “The individual evaluates and perceives himself in accordance with the characteristics and values ​​that others attribute to him” [5, p. 52].

Traditionally, Western literature distinguishes five main approaches to understanding global self-esteem (general self-respect, self-attitude) and its structure.

1. Self-attitude - as the sum of private self-assessments associated with various aspects of the I-concept.

2. Self-attitude - as an integral self-assessment of particular aspects, weighted by their subjective significance. The origins of these ideas historically lie in the views of W. James, who believed that failure in insignificant areas has little effect on overall self-esteem. However, direct evidence of the validity of the respective representations has not been received. To a certain extent, this is due to the underdevelopment of the concept of subjective significance and the possibility of an interaction between significance and self-esteem. Thus, Knot and J. Marvell believe that if low self-esteem for a particular quality conflicts with the need to have high general self-esteem, then one of the possible mechanisms is to reduce the significance of those aspects for which the subject evaluates himself low. M. Rosenberg received confirmation of this idea: he found that a higher significance0003

is written by an individual precisely in those aspects in which he is successful. In the study of Hodge and McCarthy, an attempt was made to directly test the proposition about the integral nature of generalized self-esteem. On the basis of the results obtained, they came to the conclusion that the integral self-assessment of particular aspects and general self-esteem are different "constructs" behind which one must look for different psychological content. In general, according to the researchers, the results of these experiments cast doubt on the assertion of global self-esteem as a self-esteem integrated from particular components.

3. Self-attitude - as a hierarchical structure, including private self-assessments, integrated in the spheres of personal manifestations and in the complex constituting the generalized "I", which is at the top of the hierarchy. So, R. Schavelzon proposed a model of this kind: generalized self-esteem is at the top of the hierarchy and can be divided into academic and non-academic (associated or not associated with academic success). The latter is divided into physical, emotional and social aspects. However, the structure of the generalized self-relation remains unclear. There are many spheres in which personality manifests itself, so that reducing the psychological structure of self-attitude to the structure of spheres of self-esteem will not clarify anything. Theoretical attitudes, according to which self-esteem and general self-esteem are an emotional reaction to one or another content of the self-image, turn out to be reducible to those areas of personality and life that can be objects of awareness and evaluation. This is exactly what is expressed in the concept of R. Schavelzon, who, based on an analysis of studies that separate the cognitive and evaluative components of the self-concept, came to the conclusion that this distinction does not make much sense (since there are no sufficient arguments in its favor). Hence, the self-concept and generalized self-esteem are simply the same thing.

4. Self-respect is understood as an independent variable that has its own special nature. So, S. Coopersmith and M. Rosenberg consider self-attitude as a kind of personality trait that does not change much from situation to situation and even from age to age. The stability of general self-esteem is supposed to be based on two main internal motives: the motive of self-esteem and the need for constancy of the image. The motive of self-esteem is defined as a "personal need" to maximize the experience of positive and minimal negative attitudes towards oneself.

5. Self-attitude - as a feeling, including experiences of various content (self-confidence, self-acceptance, etc.). Researchers L. Wells and J. Marvell, who analyzed various concepts of generalized self-esteem, identified three basic understandings of self-attitude:

1. Self-love.

2. Self-acceptance.

3. Sense of competence.

K. Rogers considers self-acceptance as acceptance of oneself as a whole, regardless of one's own qualities and virtues, and also singles out self-esteem - an attitude towards oneself as a bearer of certain qualities and virtues. However, if the review of Wells and Marvell presents different understandings of global self-esteem as a single and integral entity, then K. Rogers considers self-acceptance and self-esteem as two aspects of self-relationship, which are divided into two subsystems: self-evaluative and emotional. At the same time, most researchers present the affective process as an evaluative one, described in terms of emotions [10].

A review of the approaches we have identified in determining the nature of self-esteem allows us to determine the complexity of this problem, its diversity and inconsistency.

Received 07.09.2006


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