Exploring Self Concept Essay
Title: Exploring Self Concept
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Type: Self-Assessment Instrument
The purpose of this activity is to help participants to identify beliefs they hold about themselves and others, and to obtain more information about people’s perception of them.
determine qualities to describe themselves
personally evaluate these qualities
provide positive qualities they perceive in other group members
personally evaluate and discuss in small groups
hold plenary discussion on the outcomes
Overhead: “List of Personal Qualities”
Handout: “Different Aspects of the Self”
Post it notes
Step 1: Ask participants to list 10 qualities which describe them as a person generally - Exploring Self Concept Essay introduction. Also ask them to think of the situation(s) in which they exemplify each quality most, for example:
in personal relationships
Provide a list of potential qualities on overhead. (See appendix 1)
Step 2: Ask participants to think about the following and make paper or mental notes:
How did they feel when undertaking this exercise?
Which qualities do they feel are central to their self-concept?
Which of them do they consider are well know to others?
Are there any they would rather other people did not know about?
Step 3: Ask participants to write the name of each person in their group on one side of a post-it note. On the other side ask them to write two qualities which they consider positive about each person. Then distribute the notes to the people concerned.
NOTE: If a group also want to include negative qualities, ample opportunities for discussing people’s feelings are required.
Step 4: Ask participants to think about the following and make paper or mental notes:
How do the qualities others have perceived of them match their own concept of self?
Are there any surprises?
If people have misperceived them, what might be the reason for that?
How do they feel about the feedback received?
Step 5: In groups of three, ask participants to discuss their responses to the feedback in relation to the way they saw themselves.
NOTE 1: Remind participants that all are inferences based on a subjective interpretation of behaviour. They are not facts.
NOTE 2: It is important to take this activity seriously. People may become anxious, and thus respond with laughter or aggression. That we are treading on sensitive ground needs to be recognized. It is only recommended for groups which have developed considerable trust and mutual support between members.
Step 6: Have participants come together as one group for a plenary session in order to provide opportunities for participants to offer comment and ask questions on the activity and their findings.
The facilitator should also at this point take note of the different self concepts of all participants so that he/she is better equipped for the remainder of the training session and encourage participants to understand how these differences help or hinder them from being active and integral members of the group.
Appendix 1: List of Personal Qualities
Appendix 2: Handout
Different Aspects of the Self
The Public Self – of which both we and others are aware. Self-disclosure by us and feedback from others enlarge this ‘area’ of the self.
The Private Self – which is known to us but not to others. An extensive private self may be the result of deliberately wearing a ‘mask’ or a function of our reserve and thus being difficult to ‘read’.
Blind Spots – not perceived by us but obvious to others. We may shrink from acknowledging certain aspects of the self, seeing only what we want to see and denying the rest. We are often unaware of our behaviour and its impact precisely for this reason. The more open we are to our experiences, the fewer the blind spots will be.
The Unknown Self – of which neither we nor others are aware. As we acquire more experience (and remain open about it) this area is reduced. Yet many of our motives will probably always remain a mystery to us, as may our responses under the extreme pressures of war or natural disaster.
In what ways did the previous exercise affect your view of these aspects of yourself, if at all? How does the image you project accord with your own view?
It is not that we can eve glean some ‘objective’ truth about ourselves or others, nor can others ‘know’ exactly what we are. Indeed each person in one group may see us in a somewhat different light. Yet, however inaccurate their perceptions, it is on these assessments that their behaviour towards us is based.