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How is your Self-image?

The term self-concept is a general term used to refer to how someone thinks about, evaluates or perceives themselves. To be aware of oneself is to have a concept of oneself.

Baumeister (1999) provides the following self-concept definition:

"The individual's belief about himself or herself, including the person's attributes and who and what the self is".

This does not necessarily have to reflect reality. Indeed a person with anorexia who is thin may have a self image in which the person believes they are fat. A person's self image is affected by many factors, such as parental influences, friends, the media etc.

The list of answers to the question “Who Am I?” probably include examples of each of the following four types of responses:

1) Physical Description: I’m tall, have blue eyes...etc.

2) Social Roles: We are all social beings whose behavior is shaped to some extent by the roles we play. Such roles as student, housewife, or member of the football team not only help others to recognize us but also help us to know what is expected of us in various situations.

3) Personal Traits: These are the third dimension of our self-descriptions. “I’m impulsive...I’m generous...I tend to worry a lot”...etc.

4) Existential Statements (abstract ones): These can range from "I’m a child of the universe" to "I’m a human being" to "I’m a spiritual being"...etc.

High self-esteem (we have a positive view of ourselves)

This tends to lead to

· Confidence in our own abilities

· Self-acceptance

· Not worrying about what others think

· Optimism

Low self-esteem (we have a negative view of ourselves)

This tends to lead to

· Lack of confidence

· Want to be/look like someone else

· Always worrying what others might think

· Pessimism

Where a person’s ideal self and actual experience are consistent or very similar, a state of congruence exists. Rarely, if ever does a total state of congruence exist; all people experience a certain amount of in congruence. The development of congruence is dependent on unconditional positive regard. Roger believed that for a person to achieve self-actualization they must be in a state of congruence.

Michael Argyle (2008) says there are four major factors which influence its development:

1. The ways in which others (particularly significant others) react to us.

2. How we think we compare to others

3. Our social roles

4. The extent to which we identify with other people

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