The Self: Executive and Organizational Functions & Gender and Cultural Differences

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  • 0:05 The Self
  • 1:27 The Executive Function
  • 2:31 The Organizational Function
  • 3:51 Gender & Culture & The Self
  • 5:03 Lesson Summary
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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.

How people view themselves has a lot to do with how they view the world around them. This lesson looks at the self, including its executive and organizational functions and gender and cultural differences in constructing a self-image.

The Self

When someone says, 'Tell me about yourself,' how do you respond? When you look at a photo of you and your friends, can you pick out which one is you? What makes you different from the other people around you?

All of these questions deal with the self. In psychology, the self is the idea that you are separate and different from other people. At the most basic level, recognizing that you have a self involves realizing that you inhabit a different body than other people. But of course, there's much more involved in constructing your sense of self. All of our emotions, behaviors, and thoughts go into determining who we are.

Experiences, values, and beliefs are an important part of constructing a concept of who you are as well. Even things like what you do for a living, what music you listen to, and how you like to relax help determine what makes you, you.

Considering that every part of you and your life contributes to your sense of self, you'd probably guess that it's pretty important. But, why is it so important to have a self-concept?

There are two major functions of the self. That is, there are two things that the idea of a self does for us. In psychology, these functions are called the executive function and the organizational function. Let's look at each one a little more closely.

The Executive Function

The executive function of the self refers to the way that our concept of self helps us regulate our behavior. In other words, the executive function of the self is to keep us on track.

Think about it like this: Jane loves her friend Carrie's necklace and really wants it for herself. But, the necklace belongs to Carrie.

There are two aspects of Jane's idea of herself that keep Jane from taking the necklace:

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