The Self


Philosophers and psychologists have for a long time been engaged in efforts that seek to study and understand the self. The paper explains the complex concept of self from both the psychological and philosophical perspectives which are actually closely related. The development of self concept in individuals is discussed in detail.

The relationship between self concept and self-esteem is clearly pointed out in the paper. Furthermore, the paper elaborates the role played by self esteem in shaping behavior and self presentation in the social context. The paper concludes that self concept/self-esteem plays a major role in determining how people perceive and behave individually and collectively.

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Human beings are endowed with the ability to have ideas, awareness, and attitudes about themselves. The understanding of the self in relation to a multitude of characteristics has been studied by researchers in various fields. Most researchers in psychology and philosophy have come up with their understanding of the “self” as a concept and how it influences an individual’s character in general (Huitt, 2009).

This paper provides a definition of self concept and how it is developed. It discusses how an individual’s self-esteem and behavior is influenced by the perception of the self. The paper also explains how self concept greatly determines how a person presents himself or herself.


The self as a term has been defined by many psychological and philosophical researchers. A general perspective of the self refers to the reflective awareness by an individual as the object under consideration (Fiske, 2010).

The philosophy of self is the understanding of salient characteristics that distinguish an individual from the rest. Philosophers regard the self as the ultimate source of an individual’s awareness as a unitary being. The self is believed to be responsible for a person’s ideas and resultant actions that are characteristic of the individual.

Psychologists, on the other hand, understand self as a mental and affective perception of oneself (Huitt, 2009). Psychological researchers regard the self as having a great influence on a person’s motivation, affection, knowledge, as well as an individual’s identity in social contexts (Bandura, 1997).


The self plays a major role in the development of other distinct characteristics of an individual. Self-concept, for instance, refers to the general perception that a person has about himself or herself in relation to such defining characteristics as gender roles and sexuality, cultural identity, and so on (Fiske, 2010). Self concept, therefore, can be defined as the actual content of a person’s self, their unique character and being.

A related term, self awareness, refers to the process where an individual deliberates or contemplates about oneself. Self concept and self awareness are central in the development of our individual identities through the thoughts, personal convictions, and understandings that we have about our self (Bandura, 1997).

Development of Self-concept

Researchers in psychology of self have come up with explanations of how self concept is developed. They have identified some mental structures which are responsible for the organization of information about our self awareness (Bandura, 1997). The structures are referred to as self-schemas.

They dictate what an individual notices or commit to memory depending on how it is related to him or her. According to recent research, individuals are naturally inclined to commit to memory that which relates to their self (Huitt, 2009). This tendency is referred to as the self-reference effect.

Experiments conducted by psychologists have indicated that self concept is developed as one interacts with the surrounding and doing frequent introspections (Fiske, 2010). Introspection refers to the process of examining and evaluating one’s self relative to some set standards with the aim of making amends where necessary.

Self-concept and Self-esteem

Research findings have revealed that there is a close relationship between self concept and self esteem. Self esteem has been defined by psychologists as the measure of how an individual gauges his or her overall value and is usually ascribed to the cumulative personal gifts and abilities in relation to one’s failures (Huitt, 2009).

The understanding of oneself as a separate being from the environment is central in the determination of a person’s self-esteem. Psychologists have distinguished self esteem from self concept as being more of emotional or affective as far as self worth is concerned. However, some writers use these two terms alternately to mean the source of all human motivation.

According to Fiske (2010), the attitudes and ideas that a person has about the world and how he or she relates to that perception sets out the boundaries and situations within which the individual frames out his or her vision as far as possibilities/capabilities are concerned. Self concept has been associated with the development of self esteem, where people with good self esteem can do their best since they are aware of their potentialities and limitations (Bandura, 1997).

Self-esteem, Behavior and Self Presentation

The strong relationship that exists between self concept and self esteem has raised questions of how one’s identity determines and shapes behavior. Individuals have been known to gauge their self with environmental indicators, the people’s opinions, and the existing culture.

These signals significantly influence a person’s perception of one’s self (Bandura, 1997). Research findings by prominent psychologists have confirmed that individuals’ efficacy in the utilization of abilities and skills are largely influenced by self esteem versus gifts and innate potentials. This shows that the rating/value which an individual assigns their self regulates how he or she presents himself or herself in the social arena.


The paper has explained the complex concept of self from both the psychological and philosophical perspective. The development of self concept in individuals has been discussed. The relationship between self concept and self-esteem has been clearly pointed out.

Furthermore, the paper has elaborated the role played by self esteem in shaping behavior and self presentation in general. It can be concluded that self concept plays a major role in determining how people behave individually and collectively.


Bandura, A. (1997). Self-esteem and Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. New York: Freeman

Fiske, S. T. (2010). Social beings: comprehending motivations in social psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Sons

Huitt, W. (2009). Understanding self-concept and self-esteem: an analysis (4th ed).

Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University Press


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