Building a Self Concept Map
Self concept - that organization of qualities which an individual attributes to his or herself - is a complex and intriguing aspect of interpersonal communication. In order to discover more about ourselves, we can look to Rokeach's (1973) belief-attitude-value system which suggests that a person's behaviors are best understood as being driven by the thousands of beliefs which form attitudes, individual values and self concept. For this exercise, we will complete the sentences:"I want...", "I am...", "I like...", "I believe...". Follow the five steps listed below:
Step #1 - "I want..."
Terminal values are the outcomes we value such as a comfortable life, intellectual growth, happiness, freedom, love, or friendship. Some of our terminal values are stronger than others and can be arranged more or less hierarchically.
Complete the sentence "I want.." by listing as many terminal values as appropriate for you and arranging them in order of importance.
Step #2 - "I am..."
Instrumental values are qualities we value and use in our daily intereaction such as honesty, integrity,ambition, independance, optimism, or caring. Since these are values we carry out in our behaviors, they are a direct part of our self concept. But because self concept is made up of how you see yourself, and how other's see you, there are two parts to this step.
Complete the sentence "I am..." by listing 20 or so qualities you believe you possess. Ask three good acquaintances to do the same and give you their lists. Take all four lists and compare; the qualities which are listed on all four lists are part of your "real" self concept.
(Qualities which only show up on your one list are "ideal", qualities which you think are important to who you are, but have not been shown to or validated by others.)
Step #3 - "I like..."
Attitudes, which stem from clusters of beliefs, can be attitudes about objects (including people) and attitudes about situations. When examining your attitudes, look at why you like what you like. For example if you like sports (a situation), try focusing on what it is about sports you like: competition, physical fitness, working on skills, etc. If you like cats (an object), do you admire their independance, their cuddliness, their unpredictablities, etc. For one "thing" you like, you may find you have a number of important attitudes.
Complete the sentence "I like..." by generating a thoughtful top ten list of objects or situations you like.
Step #4 - "I believe.."
We have literally thousands of beliefs; we could never begin list them all. Our beliefs are, however, arranged in a system primitive/core beliefs, authority beliefs, derived beliefs, and inconsequential beliefs. It is valuable to take a look at where from within this system various beliefs lie.
1.Primitive/Core beliefs are the most central, hardest to change and most strongly felt. Some core beliefs are what we would consider facts (I believe I am X years old, I believe the world is round) and some are what we call zero consensus (I believe I am a good person, I believe there is a God).
2. Authority beliefs are what will will accept as authority, such as social or religious systems, parental or peer group authority. (I believe the U.S. Constitution is a sound philosophy, I believe my mother knows what she is talking about.)
3. Derived beliefs are beliefs we obtain through the influence of our interactions with authorities. For example, a derived belief from the authority of the U.S. Constitution might be that I believe in freedom of speech. Since we have a great deal of derived beliefs, it is a good idea to identify and evaluate which authority these beliefs came from.
4. Inconsequential beliefs come from no particular source and are highly changeable. What brand of jeans to buy or which phone plan to sign up for might be the result of inconsequential beliefs.
Complete the sentence "I believe..." by listing a few examples of each of the different levels of belief.
Step #5 - mapping the "I"
The lists you made in steps 1-4 now need to be correlated in a way that best makes sense to you! Look at your lists and see how the items relate to each other. Devise a way to visually represent all of these aspects of you. You may make a chart, a graph, a model, and outline, a 3D structure, whatever works.
Map the four lists.
To be turned in before Spring Break
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Copyright Alisa M. Shubb, 1999