Having a sense of self means:
- Being able to distinguish between self and others, and referring to each with appropriate language.
- Having knowledge of our experiences, abilities, motivations, etc.
- Having ideas about body image.
Important stages during development include:
- Existential self - from about three months old we learn to distinguish self from non-self, and find out that we exist separately from other things. The development of object permanence may help this.
- Categorical self - from about two years old we start to use language to describe ourselves, using culturally defined categories, e.g. age, male/female, tall/short etc. We are also described by other people in this way, which can influence our idea of ourself. For example, describing a child as 'clever' or 'naughty' could influence their self esteem.
- Identity crisis - Erikson claimed that during adolescence, when going through body changes and starting to make plans for the future, we may try out different roles until we find out true identity.
Theory of Mind (ToM) - Understanding that we and others have minds with knowledge, feelings, beliefs, motivations, intentions etc. We can explain and predict other people's behaviour by making inferences about their mental states This includes the knowledge that others may have false beliefs about the world.
Baron-Cohen et al
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