What is it and how to form one


Self-concept is what you believe defines you as a person. It answers the question: “Who am I?”

In psychology, many theories of self-concept exist, but most of them parallel the notion that self-concept is an essential part of identity development.

Self-concept involves everything about you, from your moral stance and everyday behaviors to your recreational talents and political beliefs.

According to to research published in 2020 which deals with the self-concept theory proposed by William D. Brooks and Philip Emmert in 1976, your self-concept can be predominantly positive or negative and predispose you to certain thoughts or behaviors.

The world of psychology is vast and the development of identity has been a point of interest for decades.

As such, many theories of self-concept exist, some independent of others and some building on previous work.

One of the most widely accepted self-concept frameworks was developed by psychologist Carl Rogers, who believed that self-concept could be broken down into three main components.

What are the 3 parts of self-concept?

According to RogerThe three fundamental parts of self-concept are:

  1. Ideal me: your vision and ambitions of who you want to be
  2. Real self (self-image): how you currently see and perceive yourself
  3. Self love: how much value and worth you believe you have

Rogers believed that the alignment of your ideal self and your real self was important for the development of your self-esteem.

If your ideal self did not match the reality of your real self, he suggested that your self-concept was “incongruous” and your self-esteem was likely to be negatively affected.

Real selves corresponding to ideal selves have been labeled as “congruent” and associated with positive self-esteem.

What are the four concepts of self?

Within the framework of self-concept co-exist theories, such as that of self-presentation, which suggest that your self-concept influences how behavior can be a way of showing others who you are.

In self-presentation theoryfour self-concepts exist:

  1. Public self: your view of yourself as defined by others’ public knowledge of you
  2. Self-concept: who do you think you are
  3. Real or behavioral self: the self created by your actions and habits
  4. Ideal me: the self you aspire to be

Self-categorization theory

In the 1980s and 1990s, John Turner, a social psychologist, proposed another principle of self-concept known as self-categorization.

In his works, Turner felt that there were two different levels of self-categorization:

  1. Staff: your sense of self as an individual
  2. Social: your sense of self as defined by the group you feel you belong to

Turner suggested that self-concept was a combination of personal and social identities, and that people could define themselves on many levels based on their intrapersonal comparisons.

For example, as an individual, you may identify yourself as a strong athlete. However, as a member of a team, you may feel less confident as a performer if the team is not functioning well.

The self-concept of the mirror

In 1902, Charles Cooley, a sociologist, introduced what was called the mirror theoryan extension of self-concept that suggested that your sense of self was directly influenced by the perception of those around you.

For example, if you notice that everyone is laughing when you make a comment, you can start defining yourself as “funny.”


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