What is self?

  • Self refers to the totality of an individual’s conscious experiences, ideas, thoughts and feelings with regards to him/her self.
  • Every significant person like parents, friends, teachers play a major role in shaping a child’s ideas about self.
  • Interaction with other people, our experiences and the meaning we assign to them, serve as the base of our self.

What is personal identity?

  • It refers to those characteristics of an individual that make him/her distinct from others.
  • When the individual describes him/her self by telling his/her name, his/her attributes, his/her potentialities and capabilities and his/her beliefs. He/she is revealing his/her personal identity.

What is social identity?

  • It refers to those characteristics of a person which connects him/her to a social or cultural group or are derived from it.
  • When someone says that he/she is a Hindu or a Christian, or a north or south Indian, then he/she is revealing his/her social identity.
  • This social identity also characterize the manner in which people mentally represent themselves as an individual.

Kinds of self

There are various kinds of self. They form as a result of our interaction with our physical and socio-cultural environments.

  • Personal self- It results in an orientation in which one feels primarily concerned with oneself. The focus is mainly on those life aspects which relate only to the concerned individual like personal freedom, personal duties, personal success, personal comforts etc.
  • Social self- It emerges in relation with others. The focus is on the life aspects such as cooperation, unity, sacrifice, supportive behaviour and sharing. Social self values family and social relationships. It is also known as familial or relational self.

Cognitive and Behavioral aspects of Self


  • The manner in which an individual perceives him/her selves and the ideas and opinions he/she holds about his/her competencies and characteristics is called as self-concept.
  • At a general level, this view maybe either completely positive or negative. However, at a specific level, an individual may have a positive self concept regarding one of his attributes and a negative self concept regarding another.


  • As individuals we always make some judgement about our own value or worth. This judgement of an individual regarding him/herself is known as self-esteem.
  • According, to researchers, by the age of 6 to 7 years, the children have formed self-esteem in 4 main areas- Academic competence, Social competence, Physical competence and Physical Appearance. This self judgement becomes more refined as the child grows up.
  • We have the ability to view ourselves in terms of stable dispositions. This ability allows us to combine distinct self-evaluations into an overall psychological image of ourselves which is general in nature. This is referred to as the overall sense of self-esteem. 
  • Self-esteem has a strong connection with our everyday behavior. According to researchers, warm and positive parenting assists in the development of high self esteem amongst children and it helps them to understand that they are considered competent and worthwhile.


  • This term was introduced by Bandura. It refers to the individual’s beliefs about his/her own effectiveness, the expectation that one can master a situation and produce positive results.
  • The concept of self-efficacy is based on Bandura’s social learning theory. People who have a strong sense of self-efficacy helps them to select, influence and construct the circumstances of their own lives. These people are also less fearful.
  • Our soceity, our parents and our experiences help in the development of a strong sense of self-efficacy.


  • It refers to an individual’s capability to organize and monitor our own behavior. Individuals who are able to adjust and change their behaviors according to the demands of the external environment have a high level of self-regulation. 
  • Many life situations require resistance to situational pressures and control over ourselves. This is possible when a person has sufficient will-power.
  • As individuals, we have the power to control our behavior, we can delay or defer the gratification of specific needs. This is known as self-control. It plays a major role in the fulfillment of long-term goals.

Techniques of self control-

  • Observation of own behavior: It provides individuals with necessary information which can be used to change, modify or strengthen specific self aspects. 
  • Self instruction: Individuals often instruct themselves to do something and behave in a desired manner. Self instructing oneself proves to be quite effective in self regulation.
  • Self reinforcement: It involves rewarding oneself when behaviors which have positive results are shown. On the other hand, it also involves punishing onesel;f when unwanted behaviors are exhibited. It helps in building self regualtion and self control.

Psychologists have shown interest in the study of self. As a result, many aspects of our behavior related to self have been revealed. Every individual carry a sense of who they are and what makes them distinct from others. This concept of self is very important to maintain our originality.