(1) What is the self concept

(2) The characteristics of the self concept

There are seven essential features of the self concept as stated by Shavelson (et al, 1976). They are organized, multifaceted, hierarchical, stable, developmental, evaluative, and differentiable. They propose a structureal model for the organization of the facets of the self concept, in which the general self concept is divided ito the academic self concept, social self concept, emotional self concept, and the physical self concept. Each has further subdivisions which are evaluable, as shown in the following diagram 1.

(Please click the diagram to enlarge.)


Supporting this construct are many self concept inventories which provides measurements for the facets. As in the Tennessee Self Concept Scale, it gives subscores for physical self, moral-ethical self, personal self, family self and social self (Fitts, 1965). In the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, items makes up five subscales as the general self, social self-peers, home-parents and the school-academic sacles (Orval, 1976). This indicates that the multifacet aspect has been generally accepted by educational psychologists.

Chapmen & Boersma (1979) questioned, however, the claim that self concept was a unitary trait that could not be satisfactorily divided into discrete components. It was suggested that molecular aspects of self concept could be measured through the use of instruments specifically designed to tap distinct facets of self concept. Reynolds (et al, 1980) reported the successful development of an academic self concept scale. This indicates that the study of the self concept has reached the measurement of the facets.

Allport (1961) identified the senses of self as seven aspects that emerged in a developmental sequence. Krathwohl (et al, 1964) compared the levels of the internalization with the stages of moral development. Marilynn (et al, 1978) collected their results and made up the model of the self cocept by using five of the aspects. They are :

(a)the sense of body, which is the most redimentary of the propriate functions;
(b)the self identity, which is the set of ideas you use to define yourself;
(c)self esteem, which is the basis upon which you feel worthwhile;
(d)self extension, which is the recognition to the importance of things;
(e)self image, which includes all of the above and the things related to the self.

The sense of body starts once the person is born. They feel oral-sensorily, and then, enter the trust vs. mistrust stage of Erikson's model of moral development. The self identity develops in the second year after birth. They are at the autonomy vs. shame stage. Self esteem develops in the third year after birth. They move from te locomotor-genital phases to the initiative vs. guilt stage. The self extension occurs in the fourth year.

Although Allport defined the self esteem as a subscribed factor within the self concept, the theorists and researchers had used the terms inter-changeably. Beane & Lipka (1980) defined the difference between these two terms that the "self concept" as descriptive and the "self esteem" as evaluative.

Sarbin (1952) described the development of the self in five stages.

(a)The somatic self,it is obtained at birth.
(b)The internal self, it indludes the percepts of the neonate's body, as sensation of hunger, dampness and indigestion etc. It is the self in the first two years after birth.
(c)The receptor-effector self, it included the conceptions of the sense organs and musculature.
(d)The primitive constructed self, it is a vague awareness of self. Theorists called this the 'latency period'. Stenner & Katzenmayer (1976) reported that this would affect the children very seriously.
(e)The social self, it is a definite sense of self identity and awareness of different roles and relationships with others.

According to this assumption, the final step in the development of the self is about the growth of the social self. It is similar to the assumption of Mead (1934), that the self is an embodiment of social emphasis, because of his essentially social definition of the self in terms of a 'generalized others'.

In contrast with this, Freud raised a mre individualistic issue that he took the self as the embodiment of individual emphasis because of his concentration on the growth an dpersistance of certain structure of personality. Bernstein (1980) contended that there would be greater differentiation, substration and integration in self concept during adolescent growth.

Pikunas and Albrecht (1961) described the stability of the self concept as consistent of behavior and continuity of identity. It is dynamic and is constantly assimilating new percepts, but most changes are superficial remaining within a tolerable range of modification. Layne and Ally (1980) reported that people would change their self perceptions as they got the foodback, but the acceptance of the feedback was dependent on the individual difference in persuasibility. Carver (1979) described the conditions for changing the self concept. When attention is directed to environmental stimuli, those stimuli were analysed and categorised according to the person's pre-existing recognitiory schemas. Wagenfeld and Garlson (1979) studies the reading skills, got the conclusion that those skills and experiences that were inconsistent with the self structure would not be symbolized or recognized. Dechenne (1980) reported that research subjects would re-establish consistency through a significant re-organization of the self-conceptions. Ellis (et al, 1980) studied self concept among adolescents between 13 to 18 yars of age and reported a re-organization of the boundaries of self concept which occurred near age 16. Hayden (1979) reported that either a shift or avoid a shift to the desired view of self depended on the relative implicative capacity of the desired or preferred view of self.


(3) The importance of the self concept
(4) How the self concept is changed