Understanding the self - Prelim

L-1 Social, Environmental, and other Life Factors (S.E.L.F)


Self is composed of both I (actor) and me (object). This consciousness of existence is almost automatic or reflexive.

Scholarly explanations about self:

Nature vs. Nurture

Nature/natural process is anchored on biology and "human traits are passed from one generation to another" (heredity).

The self in this instance is studied structurally and functionally, molecular level to entirety of human physiological systems.

  1. Transmitted traits serve as blueprints.
  2. Predisposes one to certain self-expressions.

Genetics - field of biology that primarily deals with heredity as well as characterizations (sim. and dif.) of organisms. Genetics contribute so much about the descriptions of the self.

Nurture - outcome of various nurturing factors in the context of one's life

Social science (in micro and macro levels) stress how group life affects an individual's

Identity vs. Self

Popular among:
  1. The terms "self" and "identity" are interchangeable.
  2. There is a very thin conceptual and functional distinction, thus percieved as "synonymous".
Identity (Known to others/Comparative)
  1. Qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others.
  2. Or the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.
Self (Known only to oneself/Total characteristics)
  1. The person that someone normally or truly is.
  2. Or the entire person of an individual.

Identities are the traits and characteristics, social relations, roles, and social group memberships that define who one is. Identities can be focused on the past—what used to be true of one, the present—what is true of one now, or the future—the person expects or wishes to become, the person one feels obligated to try to become, or the person one fears may become; together, identities make up one's self-concept variously described as what comes to mind when one thinks of oneself.

Excerpt from: Oyserman, Elmore, and Smith (2012, p69)

Dimensionalities of the Self/Identity

A person's identity is highlighted by a dominant trait making it distinguishable from others.

Example situation:
  1. Trying to describe a person you cannot recall.
  2. You will find yourself thinking of remarkable traits.
  3. Start describing physical traits, but can be unsuccessful because those can be seen on others as well. Unless the physical description is unique e.g. the tallest guy
  4. Identifying (which is best depicted) using certain traits that sets them apart like most arrogant, most timid, noisiest.
  5. For a person under the "average" category, it becomes difficult to describe. Several observable traits should be combined to effectively describe a person e.g. tall and dark guy with an accent.

Social factor refers to influences of significant people in one's life. These are strong foundations of one's being. Characteristics acquired from influences of social groups during the formative years are integrated to form one's identity (uniqueness and similarites). Psychologists refer to the process of character and traits integration (or forming of identity) as the formation of personality.

Developmental and social scientists identified social factor as an agent of one's being.
  1. Starts with family where the most basic attitudinal and behavioral attributes are shaped.

    Referred to by many social scientists as nusery of human nature. In this social group, the individual not only acquire biological characteristics (through heredity) but also learn directy or indirectly certain behaviors and characters. Thus, similarities in manners and attitudes are found.

  2. The waning stage where a child slowly gains independence and withdraws from strong parental attachnent.

    This stage is critical to children specially if the values they acquire challenge the foundation of behavioral characteristics intitially learned from the family.

  3. As the child extends the horizon of social connections (i.e. school, church, neighbors, friends) more and more characteristics are integrated.

The process of building one's identity becomes more complex and dynamic, but all these things happen unnoticeably and many instances, unconsciously.

Personality is the individual patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. No two people would have an identical personality and every individual is unique.

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