Self-Concept: What It Is and How It Develops

Self-Concept: What It Is and How It Develops

Last update: 08 September, 2018

When it comes to assessing our own personal self-concept, numerous variables come into play. In many cases, these will be conditioned or influenced by the things that surround us and how we relate to our environment.

Below we’ll define what self-concept actually means and how it develops.

Difference between self-concept and self-esteem

Self-concept is basically the opinion that we have about ourselves. It is the set of ideas and beliefs that contribute to the image we project to others around us. Essentially, it describes our uniqueness as individuals.

Self-esteem is something slightly different, as it is the whole “package” of emotions that we add to that image, in order to form our personality. Self-concept also differs from self-image, which mainly deals with our external appearance.

It is quite a subjective concept, as it deals with our own changeable ideas and beliefs about ourselves.

Self-concept as a theory

This idea has been divided into two groups:

  • Personal identity
  • Social identity

In the personal sphere, variables such as personal traits and other characteristics that make us unique come into play.

In contrast, the social environment is changed or modified by the environment that we share with others.

This environment could be the religion we profess, the community where we live, the place where we study, our family life, etc. It can also be modified over time by our life experiences.

Self-Concept: What It Is and How It Develops

Example of self-concept

Many people create a concept or image of themselves based on distortions. For example, people who suffer from anorexia have a distorted image of themselves when they look in the mirror, an image that differs from what others around them see.

For that reason they cling to their diets and don’t admit that they have a disorder. Here we have a clear example of how the social environment we live in, along with its advertising and ideals, can condition the image we have of ourselves.

“Self-concept is a set of ideas and beliefs that allow us to form an image in front of others”

But there are also positive examples. People who value ​​themselves set goals and direct all their efforts towards fulfilling them, always keeping a positive attitude and saying to themselves, “Yes! I can do it!”

They are also willing to influence their surroundings with that same positive attitude. These types of people will be assertive and stand up for their ideas wherever they are. Their positive self-concept gives them real achievable benefits.

The development of self-concept

Self-concept is not just an egocentric view of ourselves. Nor is it static; the social factor also has an influence on it.

To develop a positive self-concept, you must take the following points into consideration:

  • Make sure your life has real meaning.
  • Develop your skills and firmly believe in them.
  • Socialize within your environment.
  • Be open to new experiences, and be a person who is willing to change and adapt.
  • Be an optimistic person and have a good attitude.
  • Set goals in life for the short and long term.
  • Be a productive individual.
  • Be alert so that you can provide solutions to different problems.

5 characteristics of self-concept

  • Organization. The person is able to reduce a situation’s complexity by categorizing it effectively.
  • Multi-tasking. Able to give attention to different activities at the same time, and set priorities in order to carry them all out.
  • Experimental. Experience forms an important part in developing self-concept. People are able to use general situations, but also take advantage of their individual characteristics.
  • Value. They evaluate their own progress on the basis of other concepts or ideas that arise in their environment or by different learning experiences.
  • Differentiating. Using an idea or concept, they can handle the different variables they must take into account, but still be able to use their own sense of judgment.
Self-Concept: What It Is and How It Develops

4 functions of self-concept

As we have seen, self-concept is formed by an individual’s use of opinions that others have of him, and it can benefit him in the following ways:

  • It allows him to relate to other individuals and the environment that surrounds him.
  • Satisfying a person’s basic needs that are used to create their personality.
  • A conditioning of their behavior.
  • An increase in their social competence.

In summary, the goal here is to start to get to know yourself and other people better, using experiences that will help you improve as a person and enable you to feel the satisfaction of being a useful person in society.

At the same time, a person must be willing to change his opinions and concepts in a way that is consistent with the aim of having a personal identity.


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.