Communication & Culture

The Self


Charles Cooley

He was an American psychologist who believed that we develop our 'ideal self' through the use of what he called, a 'social looking glass' (or looking-glass self). He believed that we judge ourselves on how we believe others see us. These others can include friends, family and peers. 

1 of 11

Self-Disclosure and Feedback

This is the process of how we construct and learn self-image. We come to see ourselves of how others see us. We will behave in certain ways which are designed to reveal something about us (self disclosure) and then interpret the reactions of our self disclosing behaviour, which is called feedback. 

2 of 11

What happens to our self-concept if we sense peopl

Our self-concept is strengthened, and the behaviour will be likely to continue. However, if we feel people disagree, our self-concept will diminish and be likely to alter. 

3 of 11

What is Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

This is a problem that can arise by the way we shape our behaviour to what we think people already expect. Example: A shy, unconfident person may not risk talking to others, in the fear of being rejected. This behaviour will be interpreted as rude and anti-social by others, so they'll ignore them. This will lead to the shy person feeling their fears have been confirmed (that they are not worth talking to), when in reality, the response is only a reflection of the communicators lack of confidence. 

4 of 11

What are the ranges of our Adaptive Self?

We can break it down into three broad and overlapping areas: the 'bodily' range (includes things like height, age, gender and hair colour, etc) which is deeply connected with self-concept and our desire to feel attractive to others, the 'role' range (includes how you see yourself as a friend, daughter/son, student, etc) and the 'introspective' range (fixtures such as emotions, fears and intellect, etc). It is in this feedback that you will interpret feedback from others. 

5 of 11

What is the ideal self?

In each of our self ranges, (bodily range, role range, introspective range) we have an idealised version of ourselves. This plays a key part in our self esteem. If our perception of ourselves matches ourselves, our self-esteem is likely to be high, while falling short of our ideal short will cause our self-esteem to be low. 

6 of 11

What is self-esteem?

The image of who you are needs validation from other people, and a lot of our communication contains subtle, indirect hints to have our image confirmed. When you get that confirmation, it will make you feel a certain entitlement to your image. Self-esteem is the positive feeling you get when you match up to your idealised self. 

7 of 11

How is self-esteem maintained?

Maintaining self-esteem is difficult and complex. It's based on a dual process of self-disclosure followed by feedback. You reveal to people certain things about yourself, (through behaviour) and others will give you feedback, which can be direct, indirect, verbal or non verbal. Confirming feedback will boost your self esteem, while disconfirming feedback will reduce the self esteem. 

CONFIRMING FEEDBACK - The person will respond immediately, be supportive of your message, they'll seek more information and agree with your message. 

DISCONFIRMING FEEDBACK - Respond with predictable phrases, ignore your message, they will feel more important, and they'll keep bringing in new subjects.

8 of 11

How can problems arise with self-esteem?

If you have built and unrealistic and unattainable self-esteem, it will become very hard to achieve our goals, as we will have built a higher image of ourselves than what is possible. This is where we need the honest feedback, to know where our limitations are. 

9 of 11

What is the Johari Window?

It can also be referred to as the 'disclosure'feedback model of self-awareness'. The Johari Window show how much information is shared between people, and the level of trust within a group. There are four sections in The Johari Window: 

1. The Open/Free Area - This is know to you and to other people. ex. behaviours and attitudes. 

2. Blind Area - This is known to others but not to you. The aim is to reduce this area, and may be due to ignorance. 

3. Hidden Area - This is not known to others, but it is known to you. ex. feelings

4, Unknown Area - This is not known to you nor others. ex. an untried talent

10 of 11

What is cognitive dissonance?

This is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at one time. Dissonance can increase with the level of importance the subject is to us, the strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict and our ability to rationalize. 

Ex. Dissonance is often very strong when we believe something about ourselves, but act in a different way to that belief. 

If a person believes they are a good person, but does something bad, the discomfort they will feel will be cognitive dissonance. 

11 of 11


Maria Roberson


These are great, I have learnt more from this then from my teacher in a whole year! Thank you :) 

Similar Communication and Culture resources:

See all Communication and Culture resources »