(1) What is the self concept
(2) The characteristics of the self concept
(3) The importance of the self concept
The self concept is important, because it works as an organizer of behavior (Pikunas & Albrecht, 1961). Nixon (1962) stated that it was the person's symbol for his own organization. If a person perceives himself as inferior or socially inadequate, he would act in accordance with this subjectively perceived defect or compensate for it. Frank (1979) reported that the career choice of law by women could be interpreted as a positive attempt to repair their wounded self-esteem. Jones (1979) reported that the black girls from lower socio-economic backgrounds with negative self-evaluations would describe themselves in more favourable terms than blacks and whites from middle class backgrounds. Buckert (et al, 1979) concluded that under a certain situation, subjects high in perceived ability preferred easy over difficulty task. Another extreme example for the response of low self-esteem preson was reported by Reiss (et al, 1978) that a retarded boy of normal self-esteem would perform faster for higher rewards, but the retarded boy of low self-esteem would perform faster for low rewards and reject high rewards. If the low self-esteem person succeeded in the task, he would contribute the success to the task and luck (Shikanai, 1978).
In Carver's experiment (Carver et al, 1979a), he found that the conscientious pupils could finish the job which they feared of, but the unconscientious pupils would withdraw. He also found that the negative outcome expectancies regarding a subsequent task would lead to descrease persistence on that task; the positive outcome expectancies would lead to increase persistence on that task (Carver et al, 1979b). Both of these tendencies would be mediated by self-directed attention.
In general, when the low self-esteem person perceived success in previous task, the nature of their self-consciousness would become more positive on a subsequent task (Brockner, 1979). Morrison (1979) reported the same thing also. This might be the cause for the observation of Weiss & Knight (1980). They found that low self-esteem person would search for more information before offering problem solution than would high self-esteem person while working on a problem-solving task. The fear of failure might be the reason for it. The assumption proved by Aithenhead (1980) gave a light in explaining this. He concluded in his study that the low self-esteem person would attempt to partially satisfy the need for the self consistency and the need for self-enhancement rather than sacrifice entirely satisfaction of either one. Therefore, the self concept is the factor which conducts the rsponses of the person. The high self-esteem person would be less anxious and more extroverted (Anderson et al, 1979; Noland & Gruber, 1978), but the lower self-esteem subjects would be associated with a higher achievement motivation (Gissrau, 1976).
(4) How the self concept is changed