Charles Cooley (1864-1929)
Was an American social psychologist who believed that people
develop their idea of self through the use of a social looking
glass. His theory on the social self has been more accurately
called the looking-glass self. "Cooley believes that
we judge ourselves as we imagine others see and judge us"
(Greenblat, 1981). These others include significant others
such as parents, siblings and our peers. Cooley's theory states
that this development of self involves three steps.
1. First, we imagine how we present ourselves to others.
Do we perceive ourselves as:
2. We then interpret how people react to us
Do they see us as we see ourselves
do they see something else ?
We then use these interpretations of others reactions to us,
to develop our sense of self. If we sense that people agree
with what we perceive, then our self-concept is strengthened
and the behaviour is likely to continue. If we sense that
other people disagree with our perception of self - our self-concept
will diminish and our behaviour is likely to alter.
Here is a window into a website called "Kidspsych.org".
Have some fun.
more about Cooley.
Here, an American college student called Jacqueline Michelle,
who applies Cooley's theory to her own situation
Click this link!. to read
As you have just read, Jacqueline Michelle was faced with
an ugly self image created in a "social mirror"
constructed by her cruel parents.
Jacqueline's story is important because it tells us that
if we can recognise the "social mirrors" in which
our various "self images" have been cast, it is
possible to free ourselves from entrapment.