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The self-concept is crucial to psychological health because it serves to combine all the psychological functions of a person

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INTRODUCTION The self-concept is crucial to psychological health because it serves to combine all the psychological functions of a person, and because it also provides a person with the knowledge of how to behave in certain situations, hence allowing a person to feel they can cope with life with some degree of predictability. Goffman (1959) elaborated on this and suggested that life consist of a series of presentations deriving from social roles. Each role produces certain demands and dictates one's behaviour depending on what is suitable for that role. The self-concept is often divided into three categories: - 1) Self-image (this includes body image): This refers to the way one describes themselves and the kind of person they think they are. It varies throughout an individual's life and depends heavily upon other people's reactions to them. Cooley called this the "looking-glass self". An example of this theory can be explained by the way in which children gradually build up an impression of what they are like. Cooley's theory maintains that the self is reflected in the reactions of other people, who are the "looking-glass" for oneself. ...read more.


Initially, the chimps reacted aggressively and behaved as if another chimp had appeared. Gradually this behaviour faded out and by the end of three days had nearly disappeared. Thereafter, the chimps explored themselves using their image in the mirror. The chimps were anaesthetised after ten days exposure to the mirror and a red spot was painted on the uppermost part of one eyebrow ridge and another spot on the top of the opposite ear. The mirrors were taken away and the chimps returned to their cages. Gallup recorded how often the chimps touched the red spots. The mirror was put back in the cage, and again it was recorded how often the chimps touched the marked spots. Gallup found the chimps explored the marked spots twenty five times more in the latter condition than it had in the former. Gallup's study supports Cooley's and Mead's theories that emphasise interaction with others and the reactions of others as critical to the development of the self-concept. However, the study was conducted on chimps who are animals, therefore Gallup's theory cannot be generalised to the human race so his sample is not representative. ...read more.


Kuhn found that young adolescents mentioned age more: 74% of 13 year olds mentioned age as opposed to 27% of 9 year olds and 43% of 19 year olds. He also noted that females were more aware of their sex as 54% mentioned it in the first three places of their twenty responses, compared with 36% of males. More males were found to mention their race in the first three responses than females. Kuhn also noted occupational identity increased with every year of training, where he saw students in the second year of study mentioned what they were doing, more than the first year students. This supports the idea of roles and how they increase and are incorporated into the self-concept. However, Kuhn's sample is not representative of all humans as his sample only consisted of students, and they were only from the ages 7 to 22 years old. Also, Kuhn assumes an individual only has one self when in fact there could be several. All studies have shown that the self-concept varies with age, be it more social roles the older an individual becomes or greater occupational identity in the older students, age does have an effect on the self-concept which is what this present study was all about. ...read more.

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