Attributes and characteristics of a persons self concept Essay

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The self-concept of a individual is about how he/she believes their ain features and the rating of these properties ( Solomon et al. , 2010 ) . A common term, self-esteem, is used to specify the positive facet of an person ‘s self-concept ( ibid. ) . A simple differentiation of self-pride is the ideal versus existent ego ( ibid. ) . As there is normally a spread between the two of them, merchandises are used to minimise the spread and help an person in accomplishing certain ends ( ibid. ) . Therefore in this literature reappraisal, merchandises would be a chief concern in explicating how they are used to assist develop a individual ‘s self-concept.

Belk ( 1988 ) stated that ownerships are seen as a portion of our sense of ego. Our ownerships are used to broaden our self-concept and therefore we use them to understand ourselves ( Sartre, 1943 cited in Belk, 1988 ) . McCarthy ( 1984 cited in Belk, 1988 ) besides concluded from his research that a merchandise might incorporate more of our individualities than an single. Merchandises could move as a effect to an established self-concept every bit good as an ancestor to self-definition ( Solomon, 1983 ) . The former appears more frequently in most research, in which consumers buy a merchandise to fulfill their peculiar demand or to pull off their visual aspect or feeling in forepart of others ( ibid. ) . The later is about the consumer ‘s usage of merchandise as stimulation to specify a peculiar societal function ( ibid. ) . Products consist of symbolic qualities which are used by consumers to clear up the behavior and public presentation of a societal function ( ibid. ) . Both facets of the merchandise use are important for consumers in their self-definition procedure.

In this chapter, the two factors, ‘consumption ‘ and ‘interaction ‘ , are addressed in two separate subdivisions in order to explicate their influences on the definition of an person ‘s self-concept. The 3rd subdivision, ‘work individuality ‘ , is besides included in this literature to explicate some features sing this specific self-identity which is fresh to the participants in this research.


Sartre ( 1943/1956 cited in Kleine et al. , 1993 ) mentioned that ‘who we are ‘ is represented by ‘what we have ‘ , hence ingestion is related to self with regard to the individual ‘s ownerships. Buying objects is a signifier of seting one ‘s ego into the object ( Belk, 1988 ) . Sartre ( 1943 cited in Belk, 1988 ) suggested that purchasing an object is similar to making an object, in which the individuality of a individual is invested into the object through tie ining the object with his/her features. The strength of keeping the ego individuality besides increases after immediate purchase of the merchandise ( Ball and Tasaki, 1992 ) .

Relationship between ‘self ‘ and ownerships

A individual ‘s construct of ego and societal individuality could be defined by his/her usage of merchandises ( Holt and Thompson, 2004 etc. cited in Solomon et al. , 2010 ) because the merchandises consist of intimations which includes information about the individual ‘s peculiar societal function ( Solomon, 1983 ) . Social function is defined by Young as ‘a behaviour form associated with a peculiar individual in a peculiar societal system ‘ ( 1991: 33 ) . A individual moving as a peculiar societal function would act harmonizing to function outlooks ( Young, 1991 ) . Peoples could take to ordain any function and they would change their behavior in different state of affairss ( ibid. ) . Even if two individuals are moving as the same societal function, they would non act in the same manner ( ibid. ) .

The function the merchandise plays in the ingestion procedure could be explained by ‘consumption system ‘ , which describes how the consumer uses the merchandise to accomplish his/her end ( Boyd and Levy, 1963: 129 ) . Consumers purchase the merchandise non for its physical being but the map it provides for the user in carry throughing certain undertakings ( ibid. ) . Therefore even basic or day-to-day merchandises, such as our house and apparels, could be used to show our ego ( Kleine et al. , 1993 ; Young, 1991 ) .

The relationship between a individual ‘s ego individuality and his/her ownerships could be explained by the term ‘attachment ‘ , which means that the care of self-concept is supported by current or old ownership of a merchandise ( Ball and Tasaki, 1992 ) . As fond regard and clip in having the merchandise addition, that merchandise would go more associated with any important circumstance or people in the life of the proprietor ( ibid. ) . But it should besides be noted that clip is needed for the addition in the degree of association even for a high fond regard ( ibid. ) .

Prominence of individualities

An person could possess many individualities or functions within him/herself ( Solomon et al. , 2010 ) . Different merchandises may be required for an person to expose his/her peculiar societal function ( ibid. ) . We normally choose merchandises which agree with our individualities ( Kleine et al. , 1993 ) , and accordingly each of the individuality would be supported by a consistent set of ownerships ( ibid. ) .

For each of us, some of our individualities would be more outstanding in specific occasions ( Kleine et al. , 1993 ; Solomon et al. , 2010 ) . Our behavior would be affected by the saliency of an person ‘s certain individuality, and hence those behaviors related to the outstanding individuality would be performed more often ( Kleine et al. , 1993 ) . We tend to make something which is honoring to ourselves ( ibid. ) . The more we perform these honoring behaviors, the more confident we feel with the use of those ownerships ( ibid. ) . More cardinal individualities would be more likely to steer an person for suited behaviors ( Solomon, 1983 ) .

More about the prominence of individualities would be explained in Section 2.2.2.


Several consumer research workers ( Bonsu and Belk, 2003 etc. cited in Arnould and Thompson, 2005 ) had argued that temperament is of import in the passage of functions and individualities of consumers. Particularly during times like acquiring a new occupation in this research context ( Belk, 1988 ) , those ownerships related to the function of a pupil may be disposed because the self-image of the new employee function is inconsistent with those old ownerships ( La Branche, 1973 cited in Belk, 1988 ) . The quitting of the pupil function could besides be regarded as temperament for which the alumnuss get the new function of an employed individual alternatively, harmonizing to the illustration of one participant in Young ‘s ( 1991 ) research that her function is transited from a director to a pupil. Ball and Tasaki besides agreed that ‘people will psychologically outgrow many ownerships and get fond regards to others that reflect the new ego ‘ ( 1992: 170 ) .

However, a individual may take non to fling a merchandise because it acts as a storage platform of valuable memories relevant to his/her yesteryear ( Belk, 1988 ) . An illustration is given by the instance of one participant in Young ‘s ( 1991 ) research, in which she was maintaining the plaque which stored the memory of the relationship with her former fellow. She kept it for some clip before she threw it away ( ibid. ) . To reason, whether to dispose or retain a merchandise depends on its importance to the person for his/her desired individuality.


Social individuality theory provinces that a individual ‘s self-identity is created from comparing with others and so he/she is classified into appropriate societal groupings ( Abrams and Hogg, 1990 etc. cited in Walsh and Gordon, 2008 ) . It is a uninterrupted procedure ( Walsh and Gordon, 2008 ) through interaction between persons ( Charon, 1992 etc. cited in Walsh and Gordon, 2008 ) . The value of one ‘s ego is so confirmed by others ( Pratt, 1991 ) . Belk besides agreed that ‘others are an of import mirror through which we see ourselves ‘ ( 1988: 146 ) . Therefore in this subdivision, the construct of symbolic interactionism and prominence of individualities are discussed to turn to the influence of interaction on a individual ‘s ingestion form and self-concept.

Symbolic interactionism

Symbolic interactionism would be a utile construct in helping the account because it emphasizes the formation of self-concept in dealingss to other people ( Solomon et al. , 2010 ) . This theory states that a symbolic environment exists and it provides a platform for people to interact those symbols in making symbolic significances ( ibid. ) . With shared symbolic significances established through socialisation, people should be able to set their behavior and find their self-image with regard to how others predicted those actions ( Solomon, 1983 ) . Those merchandises incorporating the shared significances may so be used for heightening the societal function as they provide a greater opportunity in steering the user to move systematically with that function ( ibid. ) .

Other people could supply automatic rating to an single with respect to the symbolic value of the merchandise he/she uses to stand for his/her function ( Solomon, 1983 ) . This rating would so be used to determine the self-concept of that individual ( ibid. ) . It could be in an interpersonal or intrapersonal degree ( ibid. ) . The former is a more common one, in which those symbols used to find one ‘s function exists at the societal or cultural degree ( ibid. ) . The latter is about the imagined assessment of an person within oneself, for which the interaction procedure exists within oneself and he/she usage his/her internal rating to construct up his/her desired function ( ibid. ) . Both procedures are effectual in finding one ‘s function and self-concept.

Prominence of individualities

The prominence of individualities was explained in Section 2.1.2. Some more points are added in this portion. Kleine et Al. ( 1993 ) provides two grounds of the saliency of our individualities. The first 1 is about our environing societal circle ( ibid. ) . The circle forms our societal connexion, and the interaction with those people would assist determine whom we are and the stableness of these outstanding individualities ( ibid. ) . The 2nd 1 is about the ratings we receive from our societal connexions ( ibid. ) . As explained in Section 2.1, we have a inclination to execute rewarding behaviors ( ibid. ) . Thus we would follow the individualities which receive the best assessments from others and take those individualities as the salient 1s ( ibid. ) . Thus the consequence from our societal connexions may be one of the factors act uponing the prominence of our individualities.

A new function: the work individuality

Work individuality is a self-concept related to work ( Walsh and Gordon, 2008 ) . Peoples normally form their work individuality from their organisations or professions ( ibid. ) . The greater the position and competency of the organisation or profession, the more an single creates his/her work individuality from the group ( ibid. ) . Baumeister and Muraven ( 1996 ) viewed work as a manner of constructing up one ‘s ego. Particularly for the immature females in this context, get the hanging their first occupation could be viewed as another sort of ownerships which help make their self-identity ( Belk, 1988 ) .

Work Orientations

Wrzesniewski et Al. classified three degrees of ‘work-orientations ‘ : ‘jobs ‘ , ‘careers ‘ and ‘callings ‘ ( 1997 cited in Walsh and Gordon, 2008: 54 ) . Peoples who are jobs-oriented view their work as obtaining returns and wagess and they care less about their work individuality ( ibid. ) . Persons holding a callings work-orientation are likely to make their work individuality through rank of their organisations or professions or both of them ( ibid. ) . Peoples who have a careers work-orientation would make their full self-identity through their profession because they consider their work as the most of import thing in their life ( ibid. ) . Thus it implies that a strong work individuality is a effect of holding a callings or careers work-orientation.

Income and Money

Income is the basic assessment for the work of every employee. They can either pass their income on assorted merchandises or salvage the money for farther usage. Although holding ownerships is a manner of heightening self-concept, money is besides considered a sort of ego extension ( Belk, 1988 ) . Money provides a individual with greater flexibleness in taking activities or ownerships and therefore it helps amplify the individual ‘s sense of ego ( ibid. ) . Rubenstein ( 1981 cited in Belk, 1988 ) mentioned that people normally regard money as being successful and powerful, and in fact people with higher income are besides reported to hold higher self-pride, happier and more satisfied ( e.g. Diener, 1984 cited in Belk, 1988 ) .

Current research context

The three subdivisions above have discussed the theoretical findings by different bookmans on the content of this research. However, most of the findings are from European context, for which they may non be applicable to the Asiatic context. Therefore, this research is taking at understanding whether the practical findings from an Asiatic context would be relevant to the European scholarly findings, or if the cultural difference occupies more for this research context.

This research aims at replying the three research inquiries raised in Chapter 1. Specific research inside informations related to each inquiry would be discussed below.

What merchandises do immature female university graduates in Hong Kong choose to specify their desired self-concept and societal function?

First of all, for females, the research from Secord and Jourard ‘s ( 1953 cited in Belk, 1988 ) found that females concentrate on organic structure parts more than males. Solomon ( 1983 ) besides suggested that appearance-related merchandises could bring forth a strong nexus between the sense of ego and the behavior associated with that ‘self ‘ . Therefore participants may buy more appearance-related merchandises like vesture or skin-care merchandises. Second, ingestion is used for self-definition when the individual has an unfamiliar function ( Solomon et al. , 2010 ) or when he/she is undergoing a function passage ( Solomon, 1983 ) . As mentioned in Chapter 1, the employee ‘self ‘ of immature alumnuss is in a relatively delicate sense. Tuan ( 1980 ) suggested that this delicate ego should be supported by ownerships because these ownerships may be able to stand for the individuality of an employed individual. Young ( 1991 ) besides mentioned that function passage requires a alteration of the environment, societal function, enacted behavior and ownerships. Particularly when the self-image of being an employee is weak at the start of their calling, they tend to buy user-image related merchandises to beef up their self-perception ( Wright et al. , 1992 ) . Research from Wicklund et Al. ( 1981 cited in Solomon, 1983 ) besides found that pupils possessing a more imperfect sense of ‘career ‘ ego would be given to use epicurean merchandises to stand for their desired ‘career ‘ function.

Therefore in this research, their preferable types of merchandises and disbursement form would be explored to understand how they view their individuality at the minute. The issue of difference in disbursement form before and after graduation would be particularly addressed to research the procedure of their function passage.

How make their interactions with others shape their outstanding societal individualities?

In this research, participants are all playing a comparatively unfamiliar function of being an employed individual. They may non understand the appropriate behavior of their new function and therefore there may be big spread between the ideal behavior and their existent capacity in executing those behaviors ( Solomon, 1983 ) . Therefore they may trust on external cues in steering their actions ( ibid. ) . Their self-image would be mostly shaped by the assessments of others on their ain ownerships ( ibid. ) . They would entree whom they are or their function based on the ratings of others ( ibid. ) .

From the literature by Kleine et Al. ( 1993 ) in Section 2.2.2, the two grounds of salient individuality are both about a individual ‘s societal connexions. Therefore in order to research the relationship between interaction and the saliency of individuality, the issue of societal circle and the interactions among the group would be explored. The interactions may impact how they view themselves and later their ingestion forms and behavior, and eventually their salient individuality would be shaped consequently.

To what extent does their work individuality constitute to their self-concept?

In their function passage from a pupil to an employee, their outstanding individuality may non be stable and they may hold several outstanding individualities alternatively of merely an obvious one. Thus the issue of degree of importance about the on the job function in their self-concept would be addressed to research if work individuality is considered of import in their head. Their position towards their current occupation would be explored because the research from Wrzesniewski et Al. ( 1997 cited in Walsh and Gordon, 2008 ) indicates that people who are more career-oriented tend to hold a stronger work individuality and frailty versa. Their position towards their income and their general disbursement and salvaging wonts would besides be asked to research how they view money and the rightness of the disbursement and salvaging forms for immature alumnuss.

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