Important concepts in self study

Important concepts in self study

What is meant by itself? Are we born with an already formed self? And if not, when and how does it arise? Is there more than one? Do animals have itself? These are some of the questions that arise during the self study, and they try to respond through research.

On the one hand, it has been suggested that the itself influences the way in which we interpret the world and explains why people act differently If you are motivated or not, if you feel involved or not.

It is what gives unity to the different ways of functioning of the person in different conditions. However, there may be no way to answer the above questions without first mentioning some important concepts in the study of itself.

Important concepts in self study

It is very important to establish the difference between the main concepts that are linked to the study of itself.


This concept refers to the child's distinction that exists independently of other people and objects. Animals can have it.

Towards the three months of life, the human being begins to differentiate the itself with respect to others

These distinctions are based on sensory differences associated with the itself body as opposed to itself not bodily

For example: touching one's own body against touching that of others or other objects. After this discovery, the person becomes aware of action-consequence relationships, which contributes to the Development of itself perceived (For example: I am the one who makes what I play move).

Between 8 and 9 months babies begin to show signs of self-recognition when they see their image reflected in a mirror.

By last, towards the year and a half of life the permanence of the object develops. That is, it is understood that, if an object falls outside our visual field, that does not mean that it has ceased to exist.

Similarly, they understand that if something changes in size, color or shape that does not mean that it really happens, but that it is moving away, that there is a change of light or that we see it from another perspective.

The child is recognized itselfEven if he is dressed in other clothes, he is in a new room for himself or with other people, which contributes to the settlement of his I perceived.

In summary, from the three months to the year and a half of life the child develops a sense of itself which implies that your own body does not change through situations, that your experiences are different from those of other objects and people and that the consequences can be related to your own actions. Thus, the self develops as an active, independent and causal agent.

Self-awareness and self study

It consists of a qualitative development beyond self-perception and refers to the child's ability to reflect on itself. It is characteristic of human beings and great primates.

From the year and a half of life begins to emerge the ability to reflect on the itself and treat it like an object

In 1970, Gallup investigated the self-recognition in chimpanzees through his image reflected in a mirror. Other animals interpret their own reflected images as if they were other members of their species other than themselves.

However, chimpanzees, after a few days of experience with mirrors, use them to clean parts of their bodies. Gallup anesthetized the chimpanzees and painted parts of their faces with red ink. After the anesthesia effect, he placed them in front of the mirrors and immediately they began to examine the stained part of their face. This is called self-recognition.

In 1979, Lewis and Brooks-Gunn conducted an experiment similar to the previous one, but using as experimental subjects children from 9 to 24 months of age to which their mothers painted their nose while pretending to be cleaned. They discovered that the behavior of “removing the blusher” begins at approximately 15 months and takes hold over 2 years of age.

Some authors doubt that recognition is synonymous with self-awareness. However, Lewis (1992) observed that at the same age at which self-recognition begins to be successful (the fifteen months) there is other progress that confirms the development of self-awareness.

These include: language use to differentiate between the itself and others (appearance of personal pronouns or expressions to refer to oneself and others) or the manifestation of emotions of self-awareness such as pride, shame, frustration or competition.

Self-concept and self study

Self-concept refers to the perception, image or idea we have about ourselves (cognitive and descriptive dimension of the self), regardless of whether it is more positive or more negative.

It begins to develop fundamentally once the symbolic capacity and awareness of itself It reaches a certain level (over three years of age), develops almost completely towards the end of adolescence (over 21 years of age) and is completed in old age.

Development of self-concept over time

  • Between 3-6 years old, Children's descriptions focus primarily on observable traits and characteristics. and in habitual acts, the valuations are idealized.
  • Between 6 and 8 years it is already possible to compare oneself at different times, although the assessment remains essentially positive.
  • During the 8-11 years, the self-concept already includes features related to interpersonal skills and relationships, as well as the comparison with other children. From here, the self-assessment is already positive and negative.
  • Between the ages of 11 and 14, social skills that influence relationships with others are included
  • Between 14 and 17 the attributes can already be differentiated according to different situations and roles
  • Finally, between 17 and 21, information about the roles they play, moral values ​​and personal beliefs are already included


It is a concept that must be well differentiated from self-concept. Thus, the self-concept is rather a cognitive problem, because it is the description or definition of the self based on the traits or characteristics that in each age are considered more relevant.

The case of identity is different. It depends in part on cognitive development, but it has a much more psychosocial nature. In fact, andIt is at the crossroads of individual personality, interpersonal relationships, self-concept and external context (for example, there are teenagers who have a very similar self-concept, but very different identities).

The development of an identity is the task of a lifetime, since identity changes with the changing social roles that come with age.

Self-esteem and self study

It constitutes the value dimension of the self: what do I feel about how I am, how much I value my characteristics, to what extent I am proud of my abilities and achievements and I feel ashamed of my limitations and failures.

This set of feelings and valuations regarding oneself is what is called self-esteem. It is therefore a totally subjective perception that, sometimes, does not have much to do with the talent and objective achievements of the individual

Self-esteem does not make sense if it is not in relation to the goals that one sets out and in relation to the importance given to certain contents over others.

Nevertheless, self-esteem can also be multidimensional (from specific domains, for example: social inclusion). That is to say, to depend on the aspects, contexts or goals that we set ourselves and to change with age.


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  • Fierro, A. (1996). The knowledge of himself. In A. Fierro (Comp.). Manual of Personality Psychology (pp. 113-152). Barcelona: Paidós.
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