As the term indicates, it is the ability of the human being to observe himself . Self-perception derives the self-concept or the perception that each subject has of himself.

The terminological diversity (self-image, self-perception, self, self , ego, self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-acceptance, notion of self, self-evaluation, self-assessment, self-worth, self-feeling, among other terms) that exists around and with respect to the terms self-perception and self-concept should be underlined. . However, in psychology , the words that are used more to speak of “the perception of oneself” are self-concept and self-esteem.

Considerations on the concept of self-perception

In this sense, the terms that could be interchangeable with “self-concept” are self , self-worth, self-identity, self-image, self-knowledge, self-awareness and, of course, self-perception. And the terms most commonly interchanged with ” self-esteem ” are self- regard, self-generation, self-acceptance, self-respect, self-worth, self-feeling, and self-evaluation. 

Since the beginnings of psychology, self-perception has been of interest, but it takes on special significance since the 70s, when its various dimensions and hierarchies and its relationship with other psychological variables, which occur among individuals of school age , are studied .

Thus, self-perception is essential as a personality variable and is one of the factors that most intervenes in student performance. But, not only of this sector of the population, but of the rest of the individuals. Self-concept is a personality variable that can positively interfere in the processes of social adaptation and psychological well-being.

What does self-perception entail?

It involves the knowledge that one has of oneself in many aspects: corporeal-sexual, social and intellectual .

But essentially, self-perception passes first through the recognition of the singular inner self , beyond the physical self and the social self.

A key question is who am I? Roid and Fitts have defined the terms “ethical-moral self-concept, personal self-perception or emotional self-concept.” (Cf. Roid, G., and Fitts, W. (1991). Tennessee Self-Concept Scale: Revised manual. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services).

We will return to this topic later. However, psychology has preferentially examined moral and emotional self-perception.

The importance of self-perception

Its importance lies in its essential contribution to the structuring of the personality. And it is that it involves social aptitude and determines key questions. How does it feel? How he thinks? How do you assimilate? How is it estimated? How do you relate to your peers? All this leads to how does it behave?

Throughout life, self-perception will go from an undifferentiated stage to a progressive particularization or, with the passage of time, differentiation of its various structural and functional dimensions occurs.

Since it is shaped over the course of life , the weight given to each aspect depends on age.

It is logical to establish that the appreciations of himself vary in the adolescent subject as he leaves this stage, becoming more complex. In general, self-perceptions will focus even more on aspects of personality, ideas, attitudes and values.

According to Vera and Zebadúa, what you perceive about yourself is an essential factor in leading a healthy life and achieving personal fulfillment . (Cf. Vera, M.ª and Zebadúa, I. (2002). Pedagogical contract and self-esteem . Mexico City DF: Free Collaborators).

Strategies to optimize self-perception

In the complex framework of subjectivity and its relationship with the environment, a community of individuals is formed with the most varied personal difficulties.

Adolescents and adults with inferiority complexes due to economic deprivation, physical handicaps, frustrations due to unfulfilled goals , self-denial due to shame, evasive behaviors based on appearances, etc., are common in the social skeleton.

The main reason for this discontinuity between what you want to be and what you are , is the preponderance given to external factors, leaving aside self-knowledge and self-realization, which leads to an emotional and intellectual balance. You live someone else’s life, you could say. For this reason, it is essential, at any stage of life, especially in the adolescent and later years, the development of the capacity for self-perception.

It is obvious that if the person has a weak self-perception capacity, they will also have a weak self-image and self-esteem and, consequently, their emotional state will be affected.

The importance of self-perception

Self-knowledge is essential to strengthen positive states of consciousness. Disconnection from real needs would lead to anxiety and depression or, at best, personal dissatisfaction.

Through the capacity for self-perception and self-concept, the human being subjectively elucidates particular traits that intervene in dealing with others and becomes aware of how it can be inserted in society. An equivocal and rigid self-concept, contrary to reality, leads to conflictive interpersonal and social relationships.

Self- perception facilitates the awareness of who you are. In particular situations, it should demonstrate greater effectiveness to be able to perceive all its variables and overcome the human tendency to raise internal defense mechanisms, such as repression, displacement, projection, introjection, among others, that deny what generates a internal rejection, as it contrasts with an idealized or false self-perception.

It is therefore essential to develop a self-perception based on reality . This is achieved with a scrutiny or self-analysis of the real and daily events of life, making use of meditation and relaxation. Finding oneself also entails the flexibility of all self-definition and acceptance without conditioning of oneself, with the aim of exploring their own true state of needs and self-realization.

Fundamental theories about self-perception

As already noted, studies in psychology have been paying particular attention to two aspects of personal self-perceptions: moral and emotional self-concept .

However, psychological theories have been investigating individual mental processes for decades, allowing at least four sectors to be outlined.

  1. The ” emotional affective self-concept 
  2. The so-called ” ethical-moral self-concept 
  3. The ” self-concept of autonomy 
  4. The ” self-concept of self-realization 

The ” emotional affective self-concept ” is precisely the vision that a person has about himself regarding his situation and measure of his emotions . The second dimension, the “ethical / moral self-concept”, considers the degree of honesty that a subject has of himself.

The ” self-concept of autonomy ” takes into account the perception of independence that each person has with respect to what they really want and think. And the “self-concept of self-realization” defines the image that each person has of himself based on the proposed objectives and goals obtained in life.

The knowledge in psychology indicates that in the case of the perception of autonomy (in the personal, ideological, emotional or behavioral order) there is an increase in this dimension of self-perception in adolescence, although the differences between the sexes are not known. This aspect is related to psychosocial maturity, since the adolescent is impelled to function in a competent and self-sufficient manner, in the face of new social and academic challenges.

Regarding personal self-realization , it is possible to highlight the importance of academic and professional success in structuring a positive self-concept.

Undoubtedly, self-approval, awareness of self-realization influences self-concept, which involves the recognition of one’s interests and talents, of productive and creative capacity (artistic aptitudes), of special motor skills (in the case of athletes ). It is possible to appreciate that the tendency to self-realization can already be verified from adolescence.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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