Self-Concept

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Before stepping onto the topic of the way we see ourselves, we first have to try to fully understand the definition of self-concept. The classification of self-concept is defined in many different ways by various researchers and practitioners over years. According to Purkey and William (1988), the popularity and attention of self-concept has been raising since decades of ignorance. Self-concept is mainly regarded as the realisation of our own existence; who we are, what is our purpose and how we fit into the society. Self-concept can be defined in a very complex manner. For example, it can be explained as a cognitive representation of oneself that gives coherence and meaning to one’s experience, including one’s relations to other people. It organises past experiences and plays an important role in assisting us to recognise and interpret relevant stimuli in the social environment (Hewstone, Stroebe & Jonas, 2008). Nonetheless, self-concept can also be clarified as simple as a statement where Fromm (1956) describe as “life being aware of itself.” After understanding the notion self-concept, we then can proceed to use different approaches to search a suitable answer to the question of “Why do we ‘see’ ourselves in the way that we do?”. In an experiment done by Montemayor and Eisen (1977), children were studied and questioned for their existence. When the children in the experiment were asked “Who am I?”, the most common answer given are descriptive and are usually about their appearance. For example, “I have brown eyes, I have brown hair and et cetera”. Children tend to mainly focus on the description of physical features of their body, address, procession and play activities; kids’ self-concept is more concrete as well as less abstract. In comparison, teenagers were observed and were asked the same question. As teenagers with wider knowledge of their existence, they will probably come up with more profound words and not only focus on the physical parts of body but somehow personal beliefs, motivation and interpersonal characteristics. For example, “I am a human being. I am a moody person, etc”. Consequently, adolescence’s answers seem to be more abstract but less concrete. By asking this question to both childhood and adolescence, significant increase can be seen in self-conceptions and categorised in followings: occupational rule; existential, individuating; ideological and belief reference; the sense of self- determination; the sense of unity; interpersonal style; and physical style (Montemayor & Eisen, 1977). The experiment has proven that aging does massively affect the way of seeing ourselves in everyone.

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