Self-Understanding & Self-Concept: How We Perceive Ourselves

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Sense of Self and Self-Socialization: The Development of Self-Views

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Who Am I?
  • 1:23 Self-Concept
  • 4:18 Self-Understanding
  • 5:56 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Answering the question 'Who am I?' can lead to a solid self-concept and self-understanding. Watch this lesson to find out more about the difference in these two things, as well as the factors that go into each of them.

Who Am I?

Louisa is coming into her own. She's starting to understand who she is and what she's like compared with others. She knows, for example, that when people are rude to other people, she gets angry. She understands that nature is more important to her than to many other people.

Louisa is starting to answer the question, 'Who am I?' For many people, answering this question isn't very easy. For others, a solid understanding of who they are is a big part of their lives.

Self-concept is an understanding of who you are as a person. When Louisa recognizes that she loves nature and hates rudeness, this is part of her self-concept. She knows who she is and what makes her different from other people.

But that's not all there is to the question of 'Who am I?' Understanding what your motives are when you act is called self-understanding. It is often linked to self-concept.

For example, Louisa's love of nature and being outdoors is closely linked to her self-concept. When she is stuck indoors all day, she gets restless and annoyed. Sometimes, she says and does things to the people around her that she's not proud of. Understanding that she's acting out because she's been stuck indoors and she really wants to be outdoors is part of her self-understanding. Let's look closer at the elements of self-concept and self-understanding.


So, Louisa has a pretty good idea of who she is. She loves nature and hates when people are rude. She's noticing differences between herself and the people around her, which all contribute to her self-concept.

But what exactly goes into a person's self-concept? There are many aspects of yourself that can make up who you are and who you believe yourself to be. Among them are:

1. The physical self

Who you are physically is important to many people. For example, Louisa is very active. She loves hiking and rock climbing, and being physically fit and strong is a big part of how she defines herself.

For Louisa's friend, Jean, though, the physical self is different. She is overweight and gets out of breath when she has to walk more than a few minutes. The physical self is still part of her self-concept, but in the reverse way that it is for Louisa: Jean's physical self is out of shape and overweight.

2. The social self

Louisa doesn't have a lot of friends, but those she does have are very close to her. She likes to spend time with her friends and get to know them deeply. This is part of her social self; that is, how a person relates to others.

Jean is different from Louisa here, too. Jean has lots and lots of friends and is always surrounded by a bunch of people. She likes to spend time in the midst of a party crowd. Her social self is still part of her self-concept, but it is different from Louisa's.

3. The competent self

Competence is the ability of a person to provide for their basic needs. For example, Louisa is a hard worker and is able to make enough money to pay for her rent, food and other necessities. She feels like she is competent, which is a big part of her self-concept.

Jean, too, is competent but in a different way. She prides herself on taking care of her husband and kids, cooking and keeping the house organized. She doesn't work at a job that she gets paid for, but she still feels competent because she is providing for her needs (and those of her family) through her work as a stay-at-home mom. Again, this is part of her self-concept, even though it is different from Louisa's competent self.

4. The inner self, also sometimes called the psychological self, is made up of the feelings and thoughts that a person has deep inside them.

For example, Louisa worries a lot about the future and what it will bring. She likes to ponder deep thoughts and read philosophers that try to get at the meaning of life.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account