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Self and Identity

Self and Identity. Dr Vicky Gunn Learning and Teaching Centre. What is the ‘self’? How is it formed, does it emerge? What is ‘identity’? How is it formed? How does the self inform identity? How does identity influence the ‘self’?. Historical context. James (1890)

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Self and Identity

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  1. Self and Identity Dr Vicky Gunn Learning and Teaching Centre

  2. What is the ‘self’? • How is it formed, does it emerge? • What is ‘identity’? • How is it formed? • How does the self inform identity? • How does identity influence the ‘self’?

  3. Historical context James (1890) Subjective ‘I’ & objective ‘me’ Freud (1930s) Jung (1930s,40s) Ego, Id, Super-ego self and shadow (psycho-sexual dev.) Melanie Kline (1940s, 50s) Fragmented self, reintegrated Erikson (Late 1950s-70s) Self & identity in the life-cycle (psycho-social dev)

  4. What are the key points? • What are the key criticisms? • Once you have read the piece – discuss key points in your groups – and then summarize to whole class.

  5. Erikson’s Life Cycle as a context Stage Age Conflict Signif. event

  6. Self and the young child • Stipek, Gralinski & Kopp (1990) moved studies of the self-concept in toddlers from a uni-dimensional approach (research into subjective ‘I’ or objective ‘me’ separately) to a multi-dimensional, sequential one.

  7. Research suggests following sequence Perceptual self-recognition (15 months) Cognitive self-representation (18 months) Linguistic self-description (23-24 months) Motivational self-assertion (29- 46 months) Emotional self-evaluation (30 months) Social self-regulation 15 months 2 years 2 ½ years 3 years

  8. Self, identity, and the adolescent

  9. Development of gender identity: beware of confusing ‘role’ with ‘identity’, they may well be interrelated and interdependent but they aren’t the same thing;beware of using sex and sexuality as synonymous with gender;beware of assuming that transexuality is the same as transgendered identity.


  11. J. Money & A. Ehrhardt (1972) Man and woman, boy and girl. Baltimore. • Sex – refers to physical attributes and is anatomically and physiologically predetermined; • Gender – psychological transformation of the self, the internal conviction that one is either male or female (gender identity) and the behavioural expressions of that conviction.

  12. “gender identity can be defined as the sameness, unity, and persistence of one’s individuality as male, female, or ambivalent….. Gender identity is the private experience of gender role, and gender role is the public experience of gender identity.” Money & Ehrhardt (1972), p.4 • What does such a definition mean for the work of psychologists? • Are sex and gender truly separable?

  13. Gender identity development: basics (1) • Gender awareness is an important part of the psychosocial development of a child; • Development typically involves congruence between gender identity (inner sense) and gender role (outward expressions);

  14. Gender identity development: basics (2) gendered play develops gender stereotypes harden gender constancy begins to dev. Infant recognises male/female faces Birth 9 months 1yr 2yrs 3yrs 4yrs Adult

  15. Approaches to development of gender • Freudian psychodynamics Fast, I. (1993) Aspects of early gender development: A psychodynamic approach. In The Psychology of Gender, ed. A.E.Beall & R.J. Sternberg. New York, 173-193. • Social learning Jacklin, C.N. & C. Reynolds (1993) Gender and childhood socialization. In The Psychology of Gender (as above), 197-214 • Cognitive development Kessler, S.J. & W. McKenna (1978) Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach. New York. • Systems approach Fausto-Sterling, A. (2000) Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York

  16. Freudian perspective • Child becomes aware of own genitals, this awareness leads to erotic fantasies; • This in turn leads to identification with a suitable adult and the development of appropriate gender role. Is this a bit one-sided?

  17. Social learning • Main assumption – adult awareness of the child’s genitals leads to differential reinforcement; • This leads adults to offer gender appropriate models which the child then internalizes. Does a child have any ‘agency’ in the process of gender identity construction?

  18. Cognitive development • Basic assumption: same as social learning in terms of adult perception of child’s genitals as critical. • Person other than the child labels child’s gender and gives them a gender identity. • This is followed by child acquiring appropriate gender role.

  19. Systems approach • Gender is represented within both social institutions and within individuals. • Gender identity is effectively constructed within a self-perpetuating feed-back loop from institution to individual. How do social context and daily practice of both adults and children generate meaning?

  20. What do you think might be the implications of these different assumptions to gender identity for psychologists? (do we need to redefine notion of psychopathology with respect to ‘gender identity disorder’? For example)

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