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Components of Self-Concept

Components of Self-Concept

Components of Self-Concept

The “Self” and Communication



In Chapter 2 of your text, Bevan and Sole (2014) lay out many psychological concepts concerning the “self.” These key elements of human psychology are central to how we communicate with ourselves (intrapersonal communication) and others (interpersonal communication).

Before you start working on the post, you must complete this training – Writing a Good Discussion Board Post, and complete the quiz.

For a transcript of this video, please click here.


Prepare Icon

Prepare: To prepare for this discussion you must do the following:

Review Chapter 2 in your text. Focus on the segments of the book on self-concept, self-image, and self-esteem.
Carefully read the discussion instructions and note that you must not only define these three terms, but you must also relate them to communication. You are also required to think through your own self-concept, self-esteem, or self-image and how it has both been shaped by previous communication and shapes your future communication.
Review the grading rubric and note that 25% of your grade is based on your application of course material (Content/Subject Knowledge) and 25% is based on your ability to demonstrate you are thinking critically and presenting original ideas.

Reflect Icon

Reflect:Take time to reflect on how your self-concept, self-image, or self-esteem have affected the way you communicate with others and how feedback from others has shaped who you are. Think about both intrapersonal and interpersonal communication.


Write Icon

Write: Based on the information in Bevan and Sole (2014) in Chapter 2,

Define self-concept, self-image, and self-esteem and relate each to interpersonal and intrapersonal communication. Write at least two sentences analyzing each term.
Provide an example of how your self-concept, self-image, or self-esteem has affected your interpersonal communication and how interpersonal communication has shaped your ideas of self.
Use specific examples to illustrate your points.
How does your example illustrate the relationship between psychology and communication?
Thoroughly address all three elements of this prompt. Consider copying and pasting these tasks into a word file and addressing each of them separately.

Your initial response should be 200 to 300 words in length and is due by Thursday, Day 3.









Discussion Post Expectations:


As the discussion prompt suggests, this week’s concepts stem from psychology. Much of what we study in communication is pulled from other disciplines. It is important to understand what we do that is different, however. So, be sure to consider what makes communication DISTINCT from psychology in addition to the similarities we share.



Self concept, as your reading states, has several components, discussed further here. Think about how much context impacts how our self image plays out as self esteem. For instance, my self image includes that I’m not good at math. I’ve never enjoyed it, never worked hard at it, and never been particularly successful at it. But, as a communication studies professor, I never have to use it, so it doesn’t impact my self esteem usually. However, on the occasion I’m out with friends and we have to calculate our own scores during games of darts, and I’m the only one who has to use a calculator, that begins to change. So, my self image is always the same “I’m bad at math,” but my self esteem depends on the situation.


How might that then impact my communication during those two contexts? Clearly, there’s more opportunity for me to be confident in the classroom, which improves my ability to teach. My lowered self esteem during darts games might make me uncomfortable, and turn into me either being short with friends or not wanting to play the game to begin with. Recognizing this potential outcome can help me realize the reasons behind my actions and feelings and allow me to make sure I don’t take out my self esteem issues on others, as well as question how important they actually are.




Self-concept is the image that we have of ourselves. How exactly does this self-image form and change over time? This image develops in a number of ways but is particularly influenced by our interactions with important people in our lives.


How Is Self-Concept Defined?


So how exactly do psychologists define self-concept? It is generally thought of as our individual perceptions of our behavior, abilities, and unique characteristics.


Self-concept is essentially a mental picture of who you are as a person. For example, beliefs such as “I am a good friend” or “I am a kind person” are part of an overall self-concept.


Self-concept tends to be more malleable when people are younger and still going through the process of self-discovery and identity formation. As people age, self-perceptions become much more detailed and organized as people form a better idea of who they are and what is important to them.


“The individual self consists of attributes and personality traits that differentiate us from other individuals (for example, ‘introverted’),” explain authors Crisp and Turner. “The relational self is defined by our relationships with significant others (for example, ‘sister’). Finally, the collective self reflects our membership in social groups (for example, ‘British’).”


Components of Self-Concept


Like many topics within psychology, a number of theorists have proposed different ways of thinking about self-concept.


According to a theory known as social identity theory, self-concept is composed of two key parts: personal identity and social identity. Our personal identity includes such things as personality traits and other characteristics that make each person unique. Social identity includes the groups we belong to including our community, religion, college, and other groups.


Bracken (1992) suggested that there are six specific domains related to self-concept:


Social – the ability to interact with others
Competence – ability to meet basic needs
Affect – awareness of emotional states
Physical – feelings about looks, health, physical condition, and overall appearance
Academic – success or failure in school
Family – how well one functions within the family unit

Humanist psychologist, Carl Rogers believed that there were three different parts of self-concept:


Self-image, or how you see yourself. It is important to realize that self-image does not necessarily coincide with reality. People might have an inflated self-image and believe that they are better at things than they really are. Conversely, people are also prone to having negative self-images and perceive or exaggerate flaws or weaknesses.

For example, a teenage boy might believe that he is clumsy and socially awkward when he is really quite charming and likable. A teenage girl might believe that she is overweight when she is really quite thin.

Each individual’s self-image is probably a mix of different aspects including your physical characteristics, personality traits, and social roles.
Self-esteem, or how much you value yourself. A number of factors can impact self-esteem, including how we compare ourselves to others and how others respond to us. When people respond positively to our behavior, we are more likely to develop positive self-esteem. When we compare ourselves to others and find ourselves lacking, it can have a negative impact on our self-esteem.

Ideal self, or how you wish you could be. In many cases, the way we see ourselves and how we would like to see ourselves do not quite match up.

Congruence and Incongruence


As mentioned earlier, our self-concepts are not always perfectly aligned with reality. Some students might believe that they are great at academics, but their school transcripts might tell a different story.


According to Carl Rogers, the degree to which a person’s self-concept matches up to reality is known as congruence and incongruence. While we all tend to distort reality to a certain degree, congruence occurs when self-concept is fairly well aligned with reality.


Incongruence happens when reality does not match up to our self-concept.


Rogers believed that incongruence has its earliest roots in childhood. When parents place conditions on their affection for their children (only expressing love if children “earn it” through certain behaviors and living up to the parents’ expectations), children begin to distort the memories of experiences that leave them feeling unworthy of their parents’ love.


Unconditional love, on the other hand, helps to foster congruence. Children who experience such love feel no need to continually distort their memories in order to believe that other people will love and accept them as they are.

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