Jacqueline Michelle an American student
||"Applying Cooley's theory to my own
life I (JM) can see how my self-concept has changed as
my perception of my social mirror changed. The development
of my self-concept can be seen as an example of Cooley's
theory on the looking-glass self.
|My early self-concept consisted of what
I was told by my parents and the children I attended grade
school with. My parents were mentally abusive and my self-concept
mirrored that abuse. I was told that I would never amount
to anything, that I was never wanted, and that I was the
cause of all my parents' fights.
As a result, I was very shy and depressed most
of the time.
At school children's reactions to me only confirmed the reflections
in my social mirror that my parents had created. My parents
constantly told me that I was dumb and stupid. They told me
that because of this I would never have any friends. People
did not want to be friends with children who were as stupid
and ugly as me. People only wanted to be friends with bright,
cute children. This made me doubt myself. At school and in
other social situations I rarely spoke and never interacted
with the other children.
Because of this, the other children perceived
me as dumb and stupid.
They started to taunt me with the same names that my parents
The self-concept I had, as a young child was
that mirrored from my parents and early childhood peers.
|Finally, I moved in with my
grandmother, who was very positive and loving towards
me. When my environment changed so did my self-concept.
self concept has changed a lot over the years, traces
of my first self concept still remain with me, and effect
me whenever I enter a new social setting making me feel
scared, shy, lost and a bit awkward.
|When I first enrolled at the University,
I felt lost, shy and awkward. My first looking-glass self
kept threatening to return to the surface crushing my
new positive self-image. I analyzed every look, word or
new situation that I entered. I weighed all pros and cons
to every response I made before it came out of my mouth.
If someone treated me as if I were anything less than
I perceived myself as being my self-concept threatened
to alter. I had to keep searching within myself in order
to maintain my positive self-concept. Luckily the older
and more self-assured (reinforced) I become the harder
it is for others to change the image in my social mirror."
A factor Cooley didn't consider was how the
self affects the image in the social mirror. Once a person
is able to justify their actions, a self-serving bias starts
to affect the perceived image. The image in the mirror no
longer depends on just the people around us. We now attribute
our own ideas and perceptions of the world to the image. People
may say that another person treated them unfairly because
that person is jealous or prejudice against them. People start
to accept credit for successes and attribute failures to others
or to their situations.
"When entering new situations, like a new school, I
now base my perceptions of self on how others react to me,
my perceptions of those people, and my current perceptions
of myself. If someone were to tell me that I am ugly I may
just realize that everyone has their own ideas of beauty and
let it go at that, my self-concept unaltered. If a significant
other or many other people expressed the same idea, my self-concept
would be likely to alter considerably. I would then perceive
myself as less attractive than I did before. I've spent my
entire life trying to overcome the influence of my first looking-glass
self. I haven't yet done that".