Cognition & Development: Conceptualisations of Self and Identity


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Week 7 Lecture in the module 'Cognition & Development'. Conceptualisations of Self and Identity.

Learning Outcomes: Define the concept of self and identity.
Identify key milestones in the development of self.
Outline theories of identity development.

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Cognition & Development: Conceptualisations of Self and Identity

  1. 1. Cognition and Development Conceptualisations of Self and Identity Dr Simon Bignell Simon Bignell, N208 1
  2. 2. Learning Outcomes By the end of today‟s lecture, with the help of private study you should be able to: • • • Define the concept of self and identity. Identify key milestones in the development of self. Outline theories of identity development.
  3. 3. Two quick fun tasks…. 1. Draw a picture of yourself (in 30 seconds). 2. Write a few sentences that describe who you really are (in 60 seconds). *Optional 1. Show the picture to a person sitting near you. * 2. Read out the description you wrote to the person. * How did that feel?
  4. 4. Two quick fun tasks…. Self Description: I am a lecturer, husband and a parent with broad interests. I am often socially quiet but can adapt fairly easily to new situations. I like to think that I’m a creative and mindful person who enjoys his own company and learning about new things.
  5. 5. Defining the Self  “…conceptual system made up of one‟s thoughts and attitudes about oneself. It encompasses ones thoughts on their physical being, social roles and relationships, and spiritual or internal characteristics”.Siegler, DeLoache and Eisenberg (2003 p. 424)  Therefore, studying the self is important as the way we view and feel about ourselves influences our overall sense 5 of well being.
  6. 6. The Developing Sense of Self  Children‟s sense of self emerges in the early years of life and continues to develop into adulthood, becoming more complex as the individual‟s emotional and cognitive development deepens.  Adults contribute to the child‟s selfimage by providing descriptive information about the child.  Self-esteem grows in relation to these factors. 6
  7. 7. Self-concept Self-awareness Self-esteem 7
  8. 8. The „Self‟  Self-concept  A multi-dimensional construct that refers to an individual‟s perception of „self‟ in relation to any number of characteristics, e.g. gender roles and sexuality, racial identity, and many others.  Self-awareness  An individual‟s awareness of their self.  Self-esteem  The evaluative element of the selfconcept. 8
  9. 9. The „Self‟  Self / ‘not others’  Conceptions of the Self  A conceptual system made up of one‟s thoughts and attitudes about oneself.  An individual‟s conceptions about the self can include thoughts about one‟s own physical being, social roles and relationships, and „spiritual‟ or internal characteristics.  Conceptions of ‘Identity’  Used interchangeably with Self.  The idea of selfhood based on the uniqueness and individuality which makes a person distinct from others. 9
  10. 10. The Rouge (Mark) Test  A self-recognition test that identifies a child‟s ability to recognise a reflection in a mirror as his or her own.  A measure of self-concept; the child who touches the rouge on their own nose upon looking into a mirror demonstrates basic ability of understanding global awareness. Amsterdam (1972)  Using makeup, an experimenter surreptitiously places a dot on the nose of the child.  The child is then placed in front of a mirror and their reactions are monitored; depending on the child‟s development, distinct categories of responses are demonstrated.
  11. 11. The Rouge (Mark) Test  6 to 12 months - the child simply sees a „sociable playmate‟ in the mirror‟s reflection.  12 months - self-admiring and embarrassment begin.  14 to 20 months - most children demonstrate avoidance behaviours.  18 months half of children recognise the reflection in the mirror as their own.  20 to 24 months self-recognition climbs to 65 percent. Video 11
  12. 12. The Developing Sense of Self  Infants have a rudimentary sense of self in the first months of life, as evidenced by their control of objects outside of themselves.  Their sense of self becomes more distinct at about 8 months of age, when they respond to separation from primary caregivers with separation distress. 12
  13. 13. The Developing Sense of Self  By 18 to 20 months of age, many children can look into a mirror and realise that the image they see there is themselves.  By 30 months of age, almost all children recognise their own photograph.  By Two-years-old children‟s exhibition of embarrassment and shame, their self-assertive behaviour, and their use of language also indicate their self-awareness. 13
  14. 14. The Developing Sense of Self  At age 3 to 4, children understand themselves in terms of concrete, observable characteristics related to physical attributes, physical activities and abilities, and psychological traits.  Their self-evaluations during the preschool years are unrealistically positive.  Children begin to refine their conceptions of self in primary school, in part because they increasingly engage in social comparison, the process of comparing aspects of one‟s own psychological, behavioural, or physical functioning to that of others in order to evaluate oneself. 14
  15. 15. The Developing Sense of Self  By middle to late primary school, children‟s conceptions of self begin to become integrated and more broadly encompassing, reflecting cognitive advances in the ability to use higher-order concepts.  In addition, older children can coordinate opposing selfrepresentations and are inclined to compare themselves with others on the basis of objective performance. 15
  16. 16. The Developing Sense of Self  The ability to use abstract thinking allows adolescents to think of themselves in terms of abstract characteristics that encompass a variety of concrete characteristics and behaviours.  Adolescents can also conceive of themselves in terms of a variety of selves, depending on the context. 16
  17. 17. The Developing Sense of Self  In early adolescence, thinking about the self is characterised by a form of egocentrism called the personal fable, a story that adolescents tell about themselves that involves beliefs in the uniqueness of their own feelings and their immortality.  The kind of egocentrism that forms the basis for adolescents‟ personal fables also causes many adolescents to be preoccupied with what others think of them.  The imaginary audience refers to the belief that everyone is focused on the adolescent‟s appearance and behaviour. 17
  18. 18. The Developing Sense of Self  In their middle teens, adolescents often begin to agonise over the contradictions in their behaviour and characteristics.  Most, however, still do not have the cognitive skills needed to integrate their recognition of these contradictions into a coherent conception of self .
  19. 19. The Developing Sense of Self  In late adolescence and early adulthood, the individual‟s conception of self becomes both more integrated and less determined by what others think.  Older adolescents‟ conceptions of self also frequently reflect internalised personal values, beliefs, and standards.  Support and tuition from parents, teachers, and others is important in helping adolescents understand the complexity of personalities. 19
  20. 20. Erikson‟s Views  Erik Erikson argued that the resolution of these many issues, the crisis of identity versus identity confusion, is the chief developmental task in adolescence.  During this stage, the adolescent or young adult either develops an identity or experiences one of several negative outcomes: "Human personality in principle develops according to steps predetermined in the growing person's readiness to be driven toward, to be aware of and to interact with a widening social radius" 20
  21. 21. Erikson‟s Views  Identity confusion: An incomplete and sometimes incoherent sense of self, with resulting feelings of isolation and depression.  Identity foreclosure: Can arise if adolescents prematurely commit themselves to an identity without adequately considering their choices.  Negative identity: An identity that represents the opposite of what is valued by people around the adolescent. 21
  22. 22. Erikson‟s Views  Due to the complexity of achieving an identity in modern society, and because of the negative consequences of failing to do so, Erikson argued for the importance of a psychosocial moratorium.  A time-out period during which the adolescent is not expected to take on adult roles and can pursue activities that lead to self-discovery.  Only possible in some cultures and only to the more privileged classes. 22
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  24. 24. Marcia’s Categories Based on Erikson‟s work on identity formation, James Marcia developed a method of classifying adolescents and young adults into one or other of four identity-status categories: 1. Identity-diffusion status: The individual does not have firm commitments and is not making progress toward them. 2. Foreclosure status: The individual is not engaged in any identity experimentation and has established a vocational or ideological identity based on the choices or values of others. 3. Moratorium status: The individual is in the phase of experimentation with regard to occupational and ideological choices and has not yet made a clear commitment to them. 4. Identity-achievement status: The individual has completed a period of exploration and has achieved a coherent and consolidated identity based on personal decisions regarding occupation, ideology, and the like.
  25. 25. Marcia’s Categories  On the whole, adolescents and young adults who have attained identityachievement status are socially more mature and higher in achievement motivation than their peers  In the course of adolescence and early adulthood, people in identitydiffusion and moratorium statuses tend to move into identityachievement status, whereas those in a foreclosed state often remain there.
  26. 26. Josselson’s (1980) Individuation Theory Individuation is the process by which a unique personal identity or sense of self, one that is different and distinct from others is developed. Individuation consists of four separate phases: 1. DIFFERENTIATION (early adolescence): Recognizes psychological difference between self and parents. 2. PRACTICE AND EXPERIMENTATION (14- 15 YRS.): Feels all-knowing, selfsufficient; actively challenges parents and seeks approval of peers. 3. RAPPROCHEMENT (mid-adolescence): After achieving a fair degree of separateness from parents, returns to home base and conditionally and partially reaccepts parents' authority. 4. CONSOLIDATION OF SELF (until end of adolescence): Develops a sense of personal identity, which serves as the basis for self-understanding and for maintaining a sense of autonomy, independence, and individuality. 26
  27. 27. Summary This lecture has looked at the following: • • • • Self Recognition Concept of self and identity. Key milestones in the development of self. Some theories of identity development. • Erikson suggests that in order to obtain a coherent sense of self adolescents must successfully resolve the identity versus role confusion crisis. • Josselson‟s individuation theory suggests that the search for ourselves is a natural process which involves differentiation, practice, experimentation, rapprochem ent & consolidation of self. • Marcia‟s four categories were developed from 28 Erikson‟s work.
  28. 28. Recommended Reading  Shaffer, D. and Kipp, K. (2010) Developmental psychology. Childhood and adolescence 8th edition. Wadsworth: Belmount (chapter 12).  Siegler, R, DeLoache, J.S. and Eisenberg, N. (2006) How children develop (2nd Ed.) NY: Worth (chapter 11).  Bee, H. (1998). Lifespan development (2nd Ed) London: Harper Collins. (Chapter 6).  Jaffe, M.L. (1998). Adolesence. New York: Wiley.  Seifert, K., Hoffnung, R., and Hoffnung, M. (2000) Lifespan Development (2nd ed.). Houghton Mifflin: London. (Chapter 11). 29