Category Archives: Self


“One imagines how he appears to others. One imagines the judgments that others may be making regarding that appearance. One develops a self- image via their reflection; that is, the judgments or critique of others.  There are not many among a general population who do not imagine how they must look to others, how their actions must look to those observing, and finally-changing themselves or perhaps rebelling against change due to the judgments of others they interact with. A large portion of personalities are determined by their reactions to appearance, speech, belief, actions, and so on.” ( The above quote explains one of Charles Horton Cooley’s many theories that were written. The Looking Glass Self is a concept where we become what or who we think others think we should be. This theory argues that we develop a sense of self based upon how we think others perceive us.


Now imagine being a teenager, who is at a vulnerable stage in their lives. Teens are trying to figure out who they are, and where they will fit in our society. They may never admit to it, but teenagers do care about what others think of them. Most teens feel adults think all kids are juvenile delinquents, skip school, do drugs and all are disrespectful. Teens tend to conform to the image they think adults expect of them. I have witnessed teenagers who were good kids, but felt they have to down play who they were to fit in an image they feel others would expect. In truth not every teenager is a menace to society. Perceptions should start with how you feel about yourself, and not with what you think someone else is thinking about you.

According to Cooley, the development of a sense of self is always ongoing and happens with interaction. As stated by Cooley, “we become who we are based not on how others actually see us, and not on how they judge us, but on how we think they will judge us based on what we think they perceive”(Cooley 1902). It’s that feeling you get when you’re in a large crowd, and all eyes are on you, and you’re thinking people think that you look a little weird.  According to, “the concept is somewhat related to the psychological concept of projection; human beings interpret the reactions of others that they socialize within regards to appearance, speech mannerism (all symbols) and projects these interpretation unto themselves”  (  Unfortunately, they fail to look inside themselves and portray who they are and not who they think others think they should be.

Although teenagers are considered some of our dare devil impressionable people, they are also looking for acceptance. It is important to know that there are teens who want to and have deviated from behavior that is thought of as the norm for their age group. There are teenagers that have lived with family members that have abused alcohol and have seen first- hand the impact it can have on people and have chose to not drink it.   Maybe as a society we should embrace our younger generation in accepting their way of expressing themselves as long as no laws are broken and no one gets hurt. Overall, having confidence and realizing “our concept of who we are, our self, emerges as we interact with others. The self is our sense of who we are, distinct from others and shaped by the unique combination of our social interactions” (Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929). Dare to be different, how else will we all be unique individuals.  People will always have their own opinions and are entitled to it.  No one has to conform to someone else’s image of them. Look inside yourself and be the person you think you should be and not what you imagine someone else to think of you.



“Self and others do not exist as mutually exclusive facts.” –Jon Witt

Developing our sense of who we are starts as soon as we make social interactions, between family friends, co-workers, teachers, even acquaintances we meet on a daily basis.  It’s through social interactions that we are shaped and can even define who we are or what we might think of ourselves.   It could be something as simple as a guy telling you you’re beautiful or a woman telling you you’re strong, which you then begin to believe that’s how others view you, defining yourself as a result of these assumptions.  This reflects Charles Horton Cooley’s looking-glass self theory.   In this theory, Cooley argued that our identity is based on how we think others see us, even though no one really knows what others are thinking.

When you’re a teenager in high school you try to conform to the norms of being popular; you by the fancy clothes from stores in the mall like Hollister,  Aeropostle and Abercrombie so that you “fit” in.  You’ve never particularly liked the clothes before or even had the ability to afford them, but you eventually buy them anyway or save up to buy them.  In my case, I had to wait till Christmas to buy the popular fashions.

Because I wasn’t always wearing name brand clothing, I felt that my peers were always critiquing me and giving me dirty looks.  By assuming that they were always thinking negative things about me I then became shy and acted negatively.



Cooley’s Theory of the Looking-Glass Self includes three main components:

1.) Self reflection study – We imagine how we must appear to others

2.) Self-awareness manipulation – We imagine the judgment of that appearance

3.) Individuation manipulation – We develop our self through the judgments of others.

We rely on feedback from others to see what their thoughts on us are or how we’re viewed by them and then proceed to act like such to help guide us with further interactions.  The most important interactions are with our significant others.

The Looking-Glass Self involves a series of steps that we all do subconsciously which affects us every day.  With socialization comes up and downs. Through our social interaction we learn from our conversations and experiences with others, whether they are positive or negative.  Deciding our own attitudes and feelings by watching how we react to situations is called the self- perception theory.  

Our self is shaped from our interactions with others and forms a unique combination distinct from everyone else.  The self comprises who we are as individuals and our concepts of what’s considered good, desirable and proper, or our values that we hold onto.

We try, we fail and we try again.  This is our guess and check strategy at life and with people.   It’s through our interaction that we learn and grow, which provides us with greater self confidence for future interactions with others.  We are who we are for various reasons: how others view us, how we view ourselves and where we came from.   It’s because of these reasons that we are unique.