About the Development Process of a Person’s Identity

The development process of a person’s identity and self-concept begins at an early age. Identity is the unique way of thinking of oneself, while self-concept is an individual’s knowledge of who they are. One’s identity and self-concept grow continuously from early childhood through adolescence. Parenting, attachment, culture, peers, and other environmental influences will be explored in this paper. The foundations of identity and the influences on my own identity and self-concept are also portrayed in this essay.

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The important theories of how people acquire their identity and self-concept are very complex. According to theorist James Cooley, a person’s perception of how others (specifically, attachment figures) see and evaluate them is where self-development starts. For example, when people interact with others, they wonder about how they appear to the other person. Next, they interpret how that other person perceives them. Finally, we experience some emotional response to that perceived evaluation. Important people in our life create representations of ourselves. 

Foundations of Identity

Parenting styles are also a factor that contributes to identity and self-concept. The authoritative style supports assertiveness and individuality, as well as maintaining an emotionally positive environment for children. Parents with this style are high on responsiveness and are highly demanding. Another style is authoritarian. Parents with this style have low responsiveness but are highly demanding towards children. They do not maintain an emotionally positive environment for children and do not support children’s individual goals. However, they maintain control towards children. They also express less affection and do not communicate as well. In the permissive parenting style, the parents are moderate to highly responsive, as well as low when it comes to demandingness. They do not maintain a lot of control towards their children and are more affectionate than authoritarian parents but less affectionate than authoritative parents. An additional parenting style is the neglecting and uninvolved parenting style. These parents neglect their children’s needs and invest little time and attention in their children.

One study found that “some styles have positive effects (authoritative, r = .20 and nurturing r = .31), some styles have negative effects (authoritarian r = -.12 and psychological control r = -.26), and some styles have no effect (permissive r = .06)” (Rice & Williams, 2017). This study’s results suggest that authoritative parenting and nurturance work best in promoting positive self-esteem for children.

Additionally, a factor that contributes to the development of identity and self-concept is culture. “Cooley believed that it development of the self was largely the product of social influences”. The theorist George Herbert Mead took James Cooley’s theory and added language and society when molding the self-system. Mead believed that children discover perceptions about themselves based on the aspects that are important in their culture. Children also acknowledge what their families and cultures consider acceptable ways of behaving and thinking. 

One study assessed personal and social identity across children from four different cultures (Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, British-born Chinese, and White Scottish), in three different age groups (ages 8, 11, and 14 years, and found “significant differences in children’s understanding of social self across the cultural groups. Responses from all cultural groups indicated that individual-self representations were the most commonly reported aspects of self. However, the Chinese groups emphasized more collective-self responses than White Scottish children. Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese children’s perception of their individual-self increased across age groups”.

Puberty is another factor that contributes to the development of identity. One study that assessed transition from late childhood to early adolescence and whether gender, puberty, and school transition help explain individual differences in change, found that “Time-varying associations between puberty and self-representations were evident in terms of perceived pubertal timing. Both biological (pubertal timing) and contextual factors (school transition) play a role in explaining individual differences of self-representation level as well as their development in girls’ and boys’ transition to early adolescence”.

Influences on My Own Identity

My choice of assessment was the Five-Factor Personality Test. For the first factor “Extraversion (AKA Surgency)”, I scored a 21 which is relatively low. I agree with this score as I am an introvert. For the second factor which is “Agreeableness (AKA Friendliness)”, I scored a 26 which is about average. I agree with this score as I like to think of myself as a friendly person. For the third factor, “Conscientiousness (AKA Will or Dependability)”, I scored a 40 which is relatively high. I agree with this score as I am always determined to get work done, and am not careless when it comes to the efficiency of my work. For the fourth factor which is “Neuroticism”, I scored a 32 which is relatively high. I agree with this score as I tend to be pessimistic and insecure. Lastly, for the fifth factor, “Openness (AKA Culture or Intellect)”, I scored a 33 which is relatively high. I agree with my “openness” result. I value intelligence and have a passion for learning new things and obtaining knowledge.

One factor that influenced my identity and self-concept is culture. My immediate family is a part of a large Italian-American family. Since I was a child, I was taught the importance of staying close with family members. This meant frequent get-togethers with cousins and big family reunions where there were family members I had never met or seen before. I believe that these family values I was taught pertain to my “agreeableness” score. Having these family values instilled in me and meeting many different and new family members taught me to be a friendly person to everyone you meet.

Another factor that I believe influenced my identity and self-concept is my parents. My parents always pushed me to work hard and get good grades in school. I believe that because of my parents pushing me to get good grades in school both pertain to my “conscientiousness” score and my “openness” score. It is also possible that this pertains to my “neuroticism” score as well.

Because of my parents pushing me to get good grades, I have learned the importance of being conscientious and careful when completing my work, and to be determined to finish work. For this same reason, I can say that I have a love of learning and am passionate about learning as much as I can throughout my lifetime. Lastly, due to the pressure, my parents put on me to get good grades I am more insecure and put pressure on myself. This can be negative for me as if I do not meet a certain standard I hold myself to, it results in adding to my already low self-esteem.

Summary

The early influences in a person’s life truly impact their present identity and self-concept. The growth of identity and self-concept is formed from childhood through adolescence. Parenting styles, attachment, culture, peers, and other environmental influences were explored. The foundations of identity and the influences on my own identity and self-concept were also portrayed. Because of the new insights gained from this assignment, I have a better understanding of how self-concept and identity develop which will be essential when helping future clients.

References

  1. Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2020). The life span : human development for helping professionals. Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.
  2. Dai, Q., Williams, J., & McGregor, E. (2016). Who Am I? The Developing Self-Concept of Scottish-Born Chinese Children: A Comparison With White Scottish, Mainland Chinese, and Hong Kong Chinese Children. Identity, 16(4), 239–249. https://doi.org/10.1080/15283488.2016.1229607
  3. Rice, L., & Williams, S. (2017). How Different Parenting Styles Affect Children’s Self-Esteem. University Presentation Showcase Event. https://encompass.eku.edu/swps/2017/undergraduate/47/
  4. Schaffhuser, K., Allemand, M., & Schwarz, B. (2016). The Development of Self-Representations During the Transition to Early Adolescence: The Role of Gender, Puberty, and School Transition. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 37(6), 774–804. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431615624841
07 July 2022

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