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The self-concept is the perspective of how an individual sees himself/herself. It is based on the principle in which a person believes himself to be and how others perceive him to be. It is closely related to self-awareness and self-esteem but the later have quite a difference. The self-concept in human beings varies with age and time. In others words, how a child sees and perceives himself is different from how an adult perceives him/herself. Self-concept is differentiates human beings from others animals. For instance, if an animal like a cat looks itself on a mirror it would tend to think that it is another animal on the other side of the mirror. As for human beings, a child below three years would not recognize himself on the mirror but a child above ten years would recognize himself. For my paper, I will compare two articles in respect to the self concept.
Gilovich argues that animals such as chimpanzees possess the self-concept. He explains that if a chimpanzee looks itself in a mirror and has a dot on its forehead; it will touch the dot on its forehead and not the dot on the mirror. On the other hand, Sedikides and Spencer (2014) argue that the only creatures with an actual self-conceptualization are the human beings only. However, they both agree that other animals such as cats and dogs do not possess self-conceptualization.
At the age of grade school, children begin to identify themselves from their physical appearance. They begin to think that “I am black” or “I have brown hair”. As they grow, they become more and more clear on their appearance and they become more aware that people start judging them.
Self-schemas are the views and beliefs that one has upon him-self (Hattie, 2013). Self schemas can be identified from different aspects such as the physical characteristics, interests, personality traits and behaviors. For example, if an individual believes that he or she is outgoing, that person will never have any difficulties in travelling and meeting new people. They are built on the past experiences and relationships of an individual. If that person had a good experience in the past in a certain area, he will have a positive thought in that area or behavior. According to Gilovich, self schemas are in both in human beings and some animals while believes that self schemas are in human beings only.
Gilovich expresses the importance of self schemas and assert that due to self-conceptualization, we are able to identify the important aspects in our lives. He gives an example of a person who is in an environment where there is a lot of noise. That person will hear his name if he was called out and that was because his name is a very import schema to him.
On the other hand, an animal such as a dog will hear its young one if it was called by the young one in an environment where there is a lot of noise. We cannot therefore conclude that animals too have property self-concept. Thus, we will not use the criteria of response to a call in a noisy place to judge as whether a creature has self-conceptualization or not.
Moreover, Gilovich adds that self conceptualization as a schema is very important in the remembrances of past experiences and information. Sedikides and Spencer (2014) assert that self schemas were very important in the remembrance of information very quickly. Both of them agree that self schema is very important and useful in the remembrance of information of past experiences. Gilovich gives an example of a college student who learnt under several different circumstances. The student easily remembered what he had learnt when he learnt quiet and environmental conducive for education than when he studied under noisy conditions. This was because when the student learnt in a quiet environment, his sense could coordinate together in the learning process which would help in the remembrance of information later. However, there were some factors that were to be considered in the experiment. If the student used the same study habit, then the experiment would be valid but if the student used different study habits, then the experiment might not work.
Gilovich describes an experiment where participants were assigned different task to undertake in which the different tasks were of different criteria. The first criterion was to identify different structures which were comprised of uppercase and lowercase. The second task involved a semantic task where the participants were asked about the synonyms of words while the third task was about a phonemic task where they were asked about the rhymes of words. The fourth task involved question about the participants where the participants were asked questions about them if they were true or not. The results of the experiment indicated that the participants easily recalled questions that revolved around their self-reference. According to Gilovich, these were due to the concept of self-schemas. The questions that required self-reference were more important to the participants than the other questions hence the participants could quickly recall their answers. On the other hand, Sedikides and Spencer (2014) argue that the recall of answers does not depend solely on the “self-reference” but by the state of the individual and the nature of the question. If a question is difficult or requires a lot of thinking, then that individual will recall its answer after a long period regardless of the question if it of self-reference or not. He argues that the part that is responsible for long-term memory and for IQ is the part that determines the fastness at which a person responds to a question. Thus, it is not quite true to say that the remembrance of answer was based on the self-reliance of the questions.
The idea of self identity and self concept can be argued with different opinions and views over the subject matter. One can argue that self identity is the same as the self awareness of a person and that the two are closely related to the meaning of self-concept. On the other hand, another individual may argue that the two are very different from self-concept. According to Gilovich, self-concept is based on beliefs in which one thinks or believes to be as a result of self or other people’s comments. He distinguishes self concept from self identity and self awareness by asserting that self identity is that self conscious that one has in respect to the current environment and that self awareness is the values which one person holds closely without letting go no matter the situation at hand. This means that a person may have a strong self identity and self awareness but still lack the self concept in him or her-self. He gives an example of a small child where elaborates that a small child may have a self-concept about him-self and what he is but this child may lack the self-awareness in him. On the other hand, argues that self concept is built on self identity and self awareness. He believes that without self awareness, a person cannot possess self concept about himself. He adds that for an individual to build a self-concept of who they are, these individuals must first recognize themselves. They must be self aware of themselves. From the contribution of these two articles, I can conclude that there is a clear distinction between self identity and the self-concept.
Sedikides and Spencer (2014) believe that people have different ways of thinking about themselves. They give an example of a person with two different moods. When this person is happy, that person tends to think that he or she is a very nice person but when that person is sad, then he or she tends to think that he or she is a bad person. This difference of who a person perceives himself to be is known as self-complexity. They also argue that when a person generally sees himself as a good person not matter his reactions, this person tends to think of him as a good person and this is known as a the self schema. Ginovich supports these claims by further clarifying that self complexity is far more complex than self concept. He believes that people have different ways in which they think or believe themselves to be. He gives an example that a person may have different traits and the overall is what comprises of the person’s behavior. The traits are the self-concept while the behavior is the self-complexity. He also gives an example of a woman. He asserts that a woman can be a mother, a girlfriend of a daughter. In this case, he clarifies that the woman represents the self-complexity while the daughter, wife and girlfriend represent the self-concept. In other words, the self-complexity is made up of different self concepts of an individual.
Ginovich explains that self awareness entails the ability of an individual to fix his attention to the self concept. If a person is able to do that, then that particular individual is said to have self awareness. Self-conscious is the ability to embrace self-awareness in the public context. He gives an example that children are honest because they are aware of themselves and that their self-concept makes them to always tell the truth. Thus, their self awareness is due to their self-conscious and their self-concept. Sedikides and Spencer (2014) on the other hand believe differently. They believe that self awareness is where an individual knows what he or she wants despites to the factors or circumstances surrounding her. On the other hand, self-conscious is where an individual knows where he or she is aware of his current state and what they are not supposed to do. In other words, the two have no close relation to the self-concept as stated by Ginovich. Thus, they believe that there is no close relationship between self awareness and self conscious.
Based on the illustrations above, it is quite clear that the topic of the self-concept is very wide and debatable. Gilovich and his colleagues have consicely illustrated their ideas and views about the self-concept. From the discussions above, it can be seen that Gilovich presented his ideas very well using supported evidence to back up his claims. On the other hand, Sedikides and Spencer (2014) believe differently yet at some point agree together. They all agree that the self-concept in human beings is built over time as the individual grows but they also disagree on whether some animals exhibit the idea of the self-concept. However, based on the above discussions, it can be concluded that Ginovich was more accurate with his findings and the whole self-concept perspective idea than Sedikides and Spencer. This can be attributed by the fact that he gave clear explanations and factual evidence to support his claims.
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