You have been hired as a life coach to help your client improve his self-esteem. In order to do this, you want to show your client that how he defines himself is reflected in how he feels about himself.
a. Diagram and discuss Shavelson et al.s (1976) self-concept model with your client. Remember to tell him which domains/subdomains are specific/unstable versus more global/general.
b. Define self-concept and self-esteem in your own words. Explain to your client how his self-concept relates to his self-esteem.
c. Using the self-concept model, along with what you know about the Exercise and Self-Esteem Model, explain to your client how participating in physical activity may enhance his general self-concept and global self-esteem.
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DEFINING SELF-ESTEEM, SELF-CONCEPT, AND BODY IMAGE
Although the constructs of self-esteem, self-concept, and body image are closely related, the terms cannot be used interchangeably; they are not the same. Self-esteem (synonymous with self-worth) is the most global form of self-perception, global in the sense that it influences and is influenced by all aspects of an individuals life. It is an emotionally laden form of self-evaluation that reflects how a person feels about himself or herself, capturing ones sense of self-worth or value as a person (Leary & MacDonald, 2003). Simply stated, self-esteem is a global assessment of how I feel about who I am. For example, you may feel that you are a good and valuable person, or you may feel dissatisfied with yourself and have doubts about your self-worth.
Self-concept refers to how we see or define ourselves (who I am) and reflects self-evaluations of our abilities, personal characteristics, and other attributes. For instance, you may define yourself as a loyal friend, a conscientious and hardworking student, or a fit and committed yoga enthusiast. Self-concept evaluations are made across discrete domains (e.g., academic, physical, social; Shavelson, Hubner, & Stanton, 1976). Thus, an individual can hold different self-concepts from one domain to another. For instance, you might have a positive self-concept in the academic realm (e.g., I am a hardworking and conscientious student) but a poor or negative self-concept in the physical realm (e.g., I am unfit and out of shape). These domain-specific self-concepts contribute to a global or general self-concept. The hierarchical structure of self-concept is illustrated in Exhibit 8.1. According to this commonly accepted model, general self-concept is an aggregate construct determined by judgments of self-concept in a number of domains. The model is hierarchically organized so that relatively situation-specific and unstable self-evaluations are at the bottom of the model, furthest from general self-concept. More global and stable evaluations appear toward the top of the model, providing direct input into the general self-concept.
Like self-esteem, general self-concept is a global form of self-perception. However, whereas general self-concept simply reflects how we see or define ourselves (who I am), self-esteem constitutes the affective consequences of the self-concept (how I feel about who I am). Thus, both our domain-specific and general self-concepts provide the information necessary to formulate our self-esteem. In the case of Ava, her self-esteem was strongly informed by negative self-perceptions in the physical self-concept domain.
Physical self-concept arises from an individuals self-judgments of both general physical abilities and physical appearancein Avas case, her perception of herself as overweight and out of shape, with the resulting self-judgment that she is fat and lazy. It is important to note that different people ascribe different values to different domains. Some theorists believe that the most valued domains have the greatest impact on general self-concept and self-esteem (Harter, 2003; Osborne & Jones, 2011). Thus, if Ava placed less value on her physical appearance, her physical self-concept, general self-concept, and self-esteem may not have been so poor.
exhibit 8.1 Diagram of the self-concept model.
Source: Adapted from Shavelson et al. (1976).
Body image is a construct closely linked to physical self-concept. Yet, whereas physical self-concept simply captures judgments about the bodys appearance and abilities, body image reflects the full multifaceted psychological experience of embodiment, especially but not exclusively ones physical appearance (Cash, 2004). Thus, body image is multidimensional, capturing how we see our own body and how we think, feel, and act toward it.
The perceptual dimension of body image reflects the picture of our own body that we form in our mind. It is how we see our body when we look in a mirror and how we imagine ourselves to lookthin or fat, short or tall, muscular or lean, and so on.
The cognitive dimension of body image reflects how we think about and evaluate our body in terms of both its appearance and function. This includes beliefs regarding the attractiveness, strength, and fitness of the body and its various parts, and the extent to which we value and are invested in our own attractiveness and fitness.
The affective or emotional dimension of body image reflects feelings experienced in relation to the bodys appearance and function. People may experience positive feelings about their bodies, such as comfort and pride, or negative feelings, such as anxiety, shame, and disgust.
affective or emotional dimension
Finally, the behavioral dimension represents things we do that reflect our positive or negative perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about our bodies, such as the types of clothing we wear and the activities we choose to engage in.
Exhibit 8.2 shows some of the biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors that influence body image. The formation of a persons body image reflects an interplay between ones body reality and ones body ideal. Body reality is shaped by biology and refers to our actual physical characteristicsweight, body fat, lean body mass, bone structure, fitness, and so on. Body ideal refers to how we think our body should look and function, and it is shaped by psychological and social factors. A person whose body reality and body ideal are the same or very similar usually has a positive, healthy body image. However, when a person perceives his or her body reality to be less favorable than the body idealfor example, when someone judges his or her own body to be fatter than he or she thinks it should bethis judgment often results in negative thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and behaviors that are indicative of body image disturbance (also known as negative body image or poor body image).
healthy body image
body image disturbance
Historically, body image disturbance was seen as a womens issue. However, times have changed. In 1973, Psychology Today magazine reported that 15 percent of men and 25 percent of women were dissatisfied with their appearance. A more recent survey of over 12,000 adults revealed that 22 percent of men and 26 percent of women were dissatisfied with their appearance, and 40 percent of men and 45 percent of women were dissatisfied with their weight (Frederick, Sandhu, Morse, & Swami, 2016). Clearly, over the past 45 years, body image disturbance has become an issue for both men and women.
exhibit 8.2 Examples of factors that influence body image.
It is important to note that body image disturbance, on its own, is not classified as a mental disorder.
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