Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Self-concept refers to people's characteristic ideas about who they are and what they are like. Although psychologists often talk about the self-concept, a person's self-concept typically consists of a loose collection of ideas rather than a single unified conception of the self. The self-concept is grounded in subjective experience. This means that a person's self-concept may be different from what he or she is actually like. One of the first psychologists who wrote about the self-concept was William James, a psychologist in the late 19th century. James distinguished between the I and the ME. The I is the part of the self that is actively perceiving and thinking. The ME is the part of the self that becomes an object of the person's thoughts and perceptions. The self-concept relates primarily to the ME. Having a self-concept is a uniquely human trait. The capacity to form a self-concept presumably evolved because ...