Research Paper: Self-Concept Maintenance: Analysis of Self-Regulation, Social Comparison

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¶ … Self-Concept Maintenance: Analysis of Self-Regulation, Social Comparison, and Social Identity Theories

Humans as social animals assume different social roles and present various self-images that represent one facet of their personalities appropriate or necessary to the social situation. One's perception of the 'self' is fluid and could be different when one is alone by himself/herself, as compared to when one is in a group or public place. The private and public selves of the individual are ways in which one's self-concept is developed. In the study of human behavior, self-concept maintenance is necessary to "survive" socially: the kind of self-concept developed by the individual would depend on his/her socio-historical background, which include self-concept responses to specific social situations that have been proven favorable or agreeable to him/her at the time.

Thus, in this context of self-concept maintenance, this paper will discuss three (3) relevant and critical theories that will help further explain the nature of self-concept maintenance: self-regulation, social comparison, and social identity theories. These theories help describe the process of self-concept development, including a determination of the motivation that encourages individuals to develop a specific self-concept or image, especially when in public or in a specific social environment. In addition to a comparison of these theories, an application will also be discussed through the media program called "Virtual Office." In this application discussion, two female personalities are compared with each other with regards to their self-concept. Further, having discussed the theories of self-concept maintenance, the discussion would include an analysis of each female character's motivation or possible development of her self-concept based on the principles of each theory.

The theory of self-regulation is a self-concept maintenance theory that explains and describes the internal processes an individual goes through during the self-conceptualization stage. One's decision to assume a specific kind of image socially is a series of processes that are both dependent on the person's personal development and the response of his/her social environment to this/these personalities. Self-regulation posits that generally, individuals "control" their natural behavior. People develop self-concepts that are ultimately favorable to other people, and individuals exercise self-control in order to ensure that a desired self-concept or image is socially and consistently maintained. Success in "controlling" one's behavior would lead to "renewed efforts" for greater self-regulation, while lack of confidence or "doubt" in maintaining the image/public self "leads to a tendency to disengage" (Carver, 2001:322).

There are occasions, of course, when one experiences "lapses in self-control." Specific examples cited include binge eating, when a person's resolve to control his/her eating highly conflicts with his/her desire to eat. In this case, self-regulation succeeds when one is able to 'override' this desire to "overindulge." However, there are cases when lapses in self-control really happen, and this lapse is usually coupled with "mental fatigue" and "total exhaustion." Unfortunately, as confidence spirals down, so does self-control and the motivation to control and maintain his/her self-concept, and the downward spiral worsens, leading to the development of an entirely new personality -- a personality that might be considered socially unacceptable or deviant (323-4).

Social comparison theory draws from three (3) important axioms, describing why and how social comparison contributes to the development and maintenance of one's self-concept. These axioms are stated as follows (Kaminka, 2007:2):

(i) When lacking objective means for evaluation, agents compare their state to that of others;

(ii) Comparison increases… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Self-Concept Maintenance: Analysis of Self-Regulation, Social Comparison.  (2012, June 18).  Retrieved August 18, 2019, from

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"Self-Concept Maintenance: Analysis of Self-Regulation, Social Comparison."  18 June 2012.  Web.  18 August 2019. <>.

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"Self-Concept Maintenance: Analysis of Self-Regulation, Social Comparison."  June 18, 2012.  Accessed August 18, 2019.