Introduction: origins of our sense of self; nature of the self
although we experience ourselves as being coherent and unified and as remaining the same across different times and situations, there are also different components to the self. One basic distinction is between the private self and the public self, and this distinction has been articulated in various different ways. Mead (1934) argued that our ability to be aware of ourselves, and to form judgments of ourselves, develops as a consequence of becoming aware of other people’s judgments of us. Bem (1972) took a somewhat different approach, arguing that we form impressions about our own characteristics on the same basis as we form impressions about others (i.e. we rely on behavioural evidence to make inferences about the internal self that was the cause of that behaviour).
that between the self as an entity that acts in the world and the self concept, which refers to the collection of beliefs and thoughts we have about our self as an actor. Our self concept involves ideas about the kind of person we are (actual self), who we would like to be (ideal self) and how we should be according to family, group or social norms (ought self). Another important aspect of the self is self-awareness, which involves comparison or evaluation of the self relative to some internal standard (subjective self-awareness) or public criterion (objective self-awareness).
The interpersonal or social nature of the self, which arises from our concern about other people’s opinion, is a key aspect of Festinger’s (1954) social comparison theory. It is also worth noting that the extent to which people’s self concepts depend on others – that is, the extent of their independence or interdependence – itself may be subject to cultural variation (Markus and Kitayama, 1991). –chpt15.2.2
Self-presentation, assess how successful we are in presenting our self to others, impression formation; dramaturgical theory; Goffman; usefulness of Goffman’s approach
Theories of impression management focus on how and why people seek to control the impression they make on others and identify a range of techniques people use to influence others’ impressions. In his dramaturgical theory of self-presentation, Goffman argued that people are concerned to produce a particular impression in the people they meet, both for reasons of self interest and so as not to disrupt the working consensus between the parties involved in the interaction. Goffman suggests that the act of self-presentation can usefully be looked at as if it were a theatrical performance and that people use their appearance, actions, and sets and props in their dramaturgic displays. He further suggests that individuals are more likely to manage their impression in public (‘frontstage’) than in a private environment (‘backstage’).