self awareness

Greetings, friends!

Not all people correctly understand what self awareness is, despite the fact that this word is familiar to everyone, and many people use it in a variety of ways. In psychology, this term describes the totality of a person’s ideas about themselves, their physical body, their psyche, their current state, and how they look from the outside. Self-awareness is formed in childhood when the child begins to think about how others perceive him and his actions. Today we will examine in detail what self-consciousness is, how it is formed, and how it is arranged.

What is self-awareness?

In psychology, the term “self-awareness” refers to a person’s perception of their own personality – how they see their place in society and the world, how they evaluate their own actions, as well as how their actions are perceived by others. This concept also includes the perception of one’s own emotions, needs, goals, motives, and one’s own role in society.

At the same time, consciousness is both an object for cognition and a cognizing subject. A person observes himself, evaluates the morality of his own actions, and corrects his own ideas about morality and morality. Under the influence of self-consciousness, he realizes himself as a person-an independent, but at the same time inseparable unit of society.

Self-awareness of the individual in psychology

In psychology, there is no unified concept of understanding self-consciousness, because it is complex and multifaceted. Such terms as “self-identity”, “one’s self-concept”, and “self” can be used as synonyms.

The concept of self-awareness was introduced into psychology by the Soviet psychologist and philosopher Sergei Rubinstein, describing it as the ability to understand oneself and others, to perceive the structure of relationships between people.

Research in this area was also conducted by Lev Vygotsky, who found that self-consciousness begins to form in early childhood and is finally formed in adolescents during the process of growing up. He pointed out that self-awareness requires the ability to think, which is formed in a child around the age of 7. Therefore, it is very difficult for preschoolers to evaluate any situation from any other point of view than their own.

Soviet psychologist wolf Merlin identifies the following elements that determine the identity of the individual:

  • understanding your emotions;
  • self-awareness as a subject;
  • ability to distinguish yourself from other subjects;
  • self-esteem.

In modern psychology, the following criteria of self-awareness are distinguished:

  • social and material isolation of the individual from the environment;
  • awareness of control over your actions and thoughts;
  • attempts to try on the qualities of other people;
  • the ability to understand your motives, desires, and needs;
  • awareness of the peculiarities of your character and your personality.

Psychology considers a person’s attitude to others as one of the key layers of self-consciousness. There are four levels of this attitude:

  1. Egocentric. A person’s attitude to others is formed on the basis of their attitude to him. This level is natural for children, but often occurs in adults.
  2. Group-centric. A person has a positive attitude to their group, considers other members of it “correct”. Depending on the circumstances, a person’s understanding of their group may narrow or expand (family, friends, team, city, nation, all people).
  3. Prosocial. This level of attitude implies that each person is valuable, regardless of whether they have advantages or disadvantages.
  4. Astonomically. At this level, the individual sees each person as part of the spiritual world. The main values are humanity, charity, respect and tolerance.

Structure of self-awareness

  • Self-awareness consists of such elements as:
  • awareness of current and distant goals, understanding your own motives;
  • awareness of your existing and desired qualities;
  • a cognitive view of yourself (from the outside);
  • emotional self-image.

Self-awareness can be divided into two components: self-knowledge and self-attitude. When a person mentally expresses an opinion about himself, his abilities, moral qualities, or current state, he appears as both a subject and an object. The terms “I” (or “I-subject”) and “self”(or “I-object”) are used to refer to these aspects.

The self has the ability to observe the self by evaluating feelings, thoughts, motives, and actions. In addition, the “I” watches and for its own propensity to observe. The self is considered by many researchers as a mechanism that forces a person to strive to achieve the maximum of their capabilities.

Self-awareness is a fairly complex system that can be divided into 4 levels for better understanding:

  • Directly-sensual. This level includes your own experiences, emotions, feelings, and desires – the minimum set required for self-identification.
  • Holistically-shaped (personal). At this level, the individual feels the need to be better, to act, to improve.
  • Intellectual-analytical (reflexive). This level involves observing yourself, your thoughts, and desires, as well as reflection and introspection.
  • Purposeful active. Here all three previous levels are combined, and the person uses the obtained observations for self-control, self-education, self-improvement, and other actions necessary to achieve the “I-ideal”.

Also, in the structure of self-consciousness, there are 3 layers associated with how a person perceives himself from the outside and how he sees his own role in society:

  • The perception of yourself.
  • Perception of others.
  • An understanding of how others perceive him.

Functions of self-awareness

From the point of view of modern psychology, self-consciousness is an important psychological mechanism that performs a number of functions necessary for a person:

  • Regulating your own behavior. Self-awareness allows a person to look at himself from the outside, as a different person. This helps them understand how they should behave, what decisions to make, what to say, and how to interact with others.
  • Self-improvement and self-actualization. Due to the presence of self-consciousness, the individual strives from The “I-real” to the “I-ideal”. Self-awareness has a powerful motivational potential that forces people to take steps to improve themselves and their quality of life.
  • Existential function. Under the influence of self-awareness, a person develops a need to have and understand the meaning of life.
  • Integrative function. Self-awareness plays an important role in the formation of an integral inner world, the individual elements of which do not contradict each other and harmoniously fit into the understanding of the external world.
  • Protective function. A person develops a need to protect a stable image of his”I”.

Forms of self-awareness

In an effort to better understand what self-awareness is, researchers have found that it has four different forms of manifestation. Let’s look at each of them in more detail.


This concept includes the knowledge of their personal qualities, as well as physical capabilities. It provides us with self-identification among other people. Self-knowledge includes such processes as:

  • monitoring the consequences of your own actions, actions, decisions, and statements;
  • monitoring the reaction of others to the above;
  • understanding how others evaluate us, how they perceive us, and how they treat us;
  • analysis of your own feelings, desires, needs, emotions and their causes.

The main goal of the process of self-knowledge is to form a fairly complete picture of yourself, understanding what you are and what opportunities you have.


Getting information about their essence, their desires and needs, a person can adjust their behavior by choosing more correct, moral, or rational actions. We are able to change almost all of our reality, completely rejecting undesirable thoughts, statements, or actions that contradict our current attitudes.


Self-esteem is an indicator of how a person perceives their own qualities and capabilities, how much they love and respect themselves. A fairly self-confident person who is able to make decisions and act purposefully has adequate self-esteem. If self-esteem is low, then a person has to constantly depend on other people’s opinions, live with a lot of complexes and feelings of guilt. Overestimated self-esteem makes him arrogant, forcing him to ignore other people’s opinions and impairing interaction with others.


This form of self-awareness has two aspects:

  • accepting yourself as a person;
  • self-esteem.

This implies that a person, regardless of their own qualities, capabilities, abilities, talents, and knowledge, accepts themselves as a full-fledged person. He does not criticize himself, does not reproach for shortcomings and mistakes. He is sure that he deserves everything he wants. To do this, they work on themselves, develop, improve, increase their level of education, and strive to master new skills.

How self-awareness is formed

Soviet and Russian psychologist Valeria Mukhina described in detail the process of forming self-awareness in a child. Let’s look at the main aspects shown in her works

Awareness of your name

The name is an important component of self-awareness. And for a child, it is the idea of a proper name that becomes one of the first elements of self-awareness. He constantly hears this name from his parents and gradually begins to identify with it. Subsequently, it helps him to distinguish himself, identify himself as a person. Later, he learns that he has a last name and patronymic, which increases the specificity.

Then the child gets nicknames, he learns to try on the roles of various characters from children’s games. Gradually growing up, he can come up with a new name that will strive to make his own, to emphasize his own personality. For some teenagers, this is so important that when they get documents, they change their name for real.

Awareness of your body

The basic idea of your body and its boundaries is formed in a child by about 1 year. Later, he learns to recognize himself in the mirror, learns that he is growing and that his body is constantly changing. He learns the pain of bruises and other physical effects and understands that his actions can cause pain to others.

The need for recognition

Because children tend to be self-centered, the child expects that all attention will always be directed at him. Gradually, he learns which actions are considered good and which are considered bad. And every time he does a good deed, he waits for recognition and approval from adults. If adults react incorrectly to his behavior, he may develop negative qualities – aggression, a tendency to deceive, and self-doubt.

Gender identification

Despite the fact that children already at an early age understand their belonging to a certain gender, and the first sympathy between boys and girls occurs in primary classes, real sexual identification occurs only with the onset of puberty. They form stereotypes of male and female behavior, boys begin to consider themselves men, and girls – women.

The idea of social space

During the process of growing up, the child’s idea of social space is formed and constantly changes. This concept includes the conditions in which the child lives:

  • life and lifestyle;
  • values inherent in this society;
  • education, moral standards;
  • religion and so on.

In adolescence, a person has a desire to expand their social space, but they do not understand what they need, so they tend to change priorities abruptly and make impulsive decisions.


Self-awareness is a necessary attribute of the formed personality. It is important to keep in mind that self-awareness is not encoded in genes, it does not arise by itself and is not formed without the necessary factors. Therefore, parents should take a responsible attitude to the process of its formation in their child.

It is very important to show the child an adequate level of attention and respect, promptly pointing out mistakes and encouraging correct actions. In this case, he will form the right self-awareness and adequate self-esteem, which will allow him to become a successful person in adulthood.


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