Deutsch: Selbstkonzept / Español: Autoconcepto / Português: Autoconceito / Français: Autoconcept / Italiano: Autoconcetto

Self-concept refers to the the contents of the self ; that is, our perception of our own thoughts, beliefs, and personality traits ; a collection of beliefs about one's basic nature, unique qualities, and typical behavior. It is the total set of thoughts and feelings about the self; it consists of self-esteem and self-image; an integrated set of beliefs about one's personal qualities and attributes. People's ideas about who they are and what they are like. It is a person's answers to the question "Who am I?".

In psychology, self-concept refers to the set of beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes that an individual holds about themselves. This comprehensive self-understanding influences how one thinks, feels, and behaves, and it encompasses various aspects of the self, including one's abilities, appearance, and relationships.


Self-concept is developed through experiences and reflects how we see ourselves in various roles and capacities within society. It is influenced by social interactions, feedback from others, and personal reflection. This concept is not static but evolves over time as people acquire new experiences and insights.

The psychological study of self-concept is crucial as it affects motivation, well-being, and overall mental health. A positive self-concept is associated with higher self-esteem, better mental health, and more effective coping strategies, whereas a negative self-concept can contribute to feelings of low self-worth and depression.

Application Areas

Self-concept is relevant in various areas of psychology, including:

  • Developmental psychology: Investigates how self-concept evolves from childhood through adulthood.
  • Clinical psychology: Treats issues related to a negative or distorted self-concept through therapeutic interventions.
  • Educational psychology: Enhances learning and student achievement by supporting positive self-concept development.

Well-Known Examples

Key theories and research related to self-concept include:

  • Carl Rogers' theory of self: Rogers emphasized the concept of self as part of his humanistic approach to psychology, suggesting that congruence between self-concept and experiences leads to greater psychological health.
  • Social identity theory: Explores how group membership affects self-concept and behavior.

Treatment and Risks

A healthy self-concept is integral to psychological well-being. Therapeutic approaches often aim to address and correct distorted or negative perceptions individuals might hold about themselves. Risks associated with a flawed self-concept include a range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.

Similar Terms

Related psychological terms include:

  • Self-esteem: Often used interchangeably with self-concept, though it specifically refers to evaluative aspects of the self-concept, particularly feelings of self-worth.
  • Self-identity: A broader term that encompasses self-concept and additional elements of an individual’s identity, including social roles and group memberships.


Self-concept is a fundamental concept in psychology that represents an individual’s understanding and perception of themselves. This self-perception plays a critical role in psychological health and influences how individuals interact with the world. Understanding and developing a healthy self-concept is essential for achieving personal growth and emotional well-being.