Discovering the Self: Identifying Self-Perceptions from True Identity

The perception we have about ourselves is an important piece of the puzzle that predicts our attitudes and behaviors. Our self-schema is the knowledge we have about ourselves which impacts how we look at the world and the people in it. We are more likely to participate in an action or behavior that fits to our self-schema. If one enjoys music but has dislike for movies, they are more likely to engage in an activity/conversation about music rather than movies.

Our self-schemas define who we are as an individual and what choices we will make to match that self-schema. Our self-schema is similar to our self-concept, which is figuring out who we are based upon our beliefs and attitudes, but self-schemas help us to organize that information and apply it in to our everyday lives. Having a favorable self-concept about yourself can determine your worth, competence, and happiness.

Discovering the Self

    Figuring out who you are as a person requires self-awareness, and is often comprised of different components. You’re internal thoughts and feelings that no one can see expect for yourself, is your private self-awareness whereas your public self-awareness is what others see when they look at you.

For example, if your boyfriend broke up with you and you feel completely depressed and saddened by this, you have a private self-awareness on the issue. On the other hand, if externally you are going out dancing, laughing, and talking to other guys an observer would be looking at your public self-awareness which completely is the opposite of your real feelings. Because you know others are looking your public self-awareness will change to match what you want others to think, not always what you truly feel. This can cause a discrepancy within yourself as your actions are not matching up with how you truly feel which in turn can cause turmoil.

The Acting-self

    The acting-self is closely related to the example given above as it is how you portray yourself in a way that you want others to see you. You do not want people to think a man broke you so you go above and beyond to make sure others see you happy and carefree. One’s projected image and self-presentation is an important part of how people see us and the steps we need to take in order for our actual self to match our “ought” self, which is what we and others believe we ought to be. It could also be related to our ideal self who is the person we would like to be.


     Self-esteem is a key player in how an individual looks at themselves which can then reflect how they behave in certain situations. The two different types of self-esteem are implicit and explicit. Implicit self-esteem is the unconscious assessment of how we view ourselves whereas explicit is conscious and intentional assessments. Many studies have been performed that correlate self-esteem with depression. In a particular recent study it was found that though most people have similar explicit self-esteem, those that are depressed have a very negative implicit self-esteem. This tells us that people with an imbalance between their implicit and explicit self-esteems often have negative mental and physical health.


    Self-efficacy can also impact one’s self-esteem and aptitude because it determines the ability to perform a task successfully. For example, if John knows he can fix cars, no matter what the problem, John is going to feel capable and self-assured every time he completes the task of fixing a car. In turn John is going to feel good about himself which will lead to positive self-esteem. High self-efficacy leads to a more productive, happier life.

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