Thanks to 24 Carat Asshole @KekistaniDiaspora
In philosophy of self, self-awareness is the experience of one’s own personality or individuality. It is not to be confused with consciousness in the sense of qualia. While consciousness is being aware of one’s environment and body and lifestyle, self-awareness is the recognition of that awareness. Self-awareness is how an individual consciously knows and understands their own character, feelings, motives, and desires. There are two broad categories of self-awareness: internal self-awareness and external self-awareness.
There are questions regarding what part of the brain allows us to be self-aware and how we are biologically programmed to be self-aware. V.S. Ramachandran has speculated that mirror neurons may provide the neurological basis of human self-awareness. In an essay written for the Edge Foundation in 2009, Ramachandran gave the following explanation of his theory: “… I also speculated that these neurons can not only help simulate other people’s behavior but can be turned ‘inward’—as it were—to create second-order representations or meta-representations of your own earlier brain processes. This could be the neural basis of introspection, and of the reciprocity of self awareness and other awareness. There is obviously a chicken-or-egg question here as to which evolved first, but… The main point is that the two co-evolved, mutually enriching each other to create the mature representation of self that characterizes modern humans.”
Bodily self-awareness in human development refers to one’s awareness of their body as a physical object, with physical properties, that can interact with other objects. Tests have shown that at the age of only a few months old, toddlers are already aware of the relationship between the proprioceptive and visual information they receive. This is called first-person self-awareness.
At around 18 months old and later, children begin to develop reflective self-awareness, which is the next stage of bodily awareness and involves children recognizing themselves in reflections, mirrors, and pictures. Children who have not obtained this stage of bodily self-awareness yet will tend to view reflections of themselves as other children and respond accordingly, as if they were looking at someone else face to face. In contrast, those who have reached this level of awareness will recognize that they see themselves, for instance seeing dirt on their face in the reflection and then touching their own face to wipe it off.
Slightly after toddlers become reflectively self-aware, they begin to develop the ability to recognize their bodies as physical objects in time and space that interact and impact other objects. For instance, a toddler placed on a blanket, when asked to hand someone the blanket, will recognize that they need to get off it to be able to lift it. This is the final stage of body self-awareness and is called objective self-awareness.
Self-awareness has been called “arguably the most fundamental issue in psychology, from both a developmental and an evolutionary perspective.”
Self-awareness theory, developed by Duval and Wicklund in their 1972 landmark book A theory of objective self awareness, states that when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. This elicits a state of objective self-awareness. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves. However self-awareness is not to be confused with self-consciousness. Various emotional states are intensified by self-awareness. However, some people may seek to increase their self-awareness through these outlets. People are more likely to align their behavior with their standards when made self-aware. People will be negatively affected if they don’t live up to their personal standards. Various environmental cues and situations induce awareness of the self, such as mirrors, an audience, or being videotaped or recorded. These cues also increase accuracy of personal memory. In one of Andreas Demetriou‘s neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development, self-awareness develops systematically from birth through the life span and it is a major factor for the development of general inferential processes. Moreover, a series of recent studies showed that self-awareness about cognitive processes participates in general intelligence on a par with processing efficiency functions, such as working memory, processing speed, and reasoning. Albert Bandura‘s theory of self-efficacy builds on our varying degrees of self-awareness. It is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” A person’s belief in their ability to succeed sets the stage to how they think, behave and feel. Someone with a strong self-efficacy, for example, views challenges as mere tasks that must be overcome, and are not easily discouraged by setbacks. They are aware of their flaws and abilities and choose to utilize these qualities to the best of their ability. Someone with a weak sense of self-efficacy evades challenges and quickly feels discouraged by setbacks. They may not be aware of these negative reactions, and therefore do not always change their attitude. This concept is central to Bandura’s social cognitive theory, “which emphasizes the role of observational learning, social experience, and reciprocal determinism in the development of personality.”
Individuals become conscious of themselves through the development of self-awareness. This particular type of self-development pertains to becoming conscious of one’s own body and mental state of mind including thoughts, actions, ideas, feelings and interactions with others. “Self-awareness does not occur suddenly through one particular behavior: it develops gradually through a succession of different behaviors all of which relate to the self.” The monitoring of one’s mental states is called metacognition and it is considered to be an indicator that there is some concept of the self. It is developed through an early sense of non-self components using sensory and memory sources. In developing self–awareness through self-exploration and social experiences one can broaden one’s social world and become more familiar with the self.
According to Emory University’s Philippe Rochat, there are five levels of self-awareness which unfold in early development and six potential prospects ranging from “Level 0” (having no self-awareness) advancing complexity to “Level 5” (explicit self-awareness).
- Level 0: Confusion. At this level the individual has a degree of zero self-awareness. This person is unaware of any mirror reflection or the mirror itself. They perceive the mirror as an extension of their environment. Level 0 can also be displayed when an adult frightens himself in a mirror mistaking his own reflection as another person just for a second.
- Level 1: Differentiation. The individual realizes the mirror is able to reflect things. They see that what is in the mirror is different from what is surrounding them. At this level they can differentiate between their own movement in the mirror and the movement of the surrounding environment.
- Level 2: Situation. At this point an individual can link the movements on the mirror to what is perceived within their own body. This is the first hint of self-exploration on a projected surface where what is visualized on the mirror is special to the self.
- Level 3: Identification. This stage is characterized by the new ability to identify self: an individual can now see that what’s in the mirror is not another person but actually them. It is seen when a child, instead of referring to the mirror while referring to themselves, refers to themselves while looking in the mirror.
- Level 4: Permanence. Once an individual reaches this level they can identify the self beyond the present mirror imagery. They are able to identify the self in previous pictures looking different or younger. A “permanent self” is now experienced.
- Level 5: Self-consciousness or “meta” self-awareness. At this level not only is the self seen from a first person view but it is realized that it is also seen from a third person’s view. They begin to understand they can be in the mind of others. For instance, how they are seen from a public standpoint.
Infancy and early childhood
It is to be kept in mind that as an infant comes into this world, they have no concept of what is around them, nor for the significance of others around them. It is throughout the first year that they gradually begin to acknowledge that their body is actually separate from that of their mother, and that they are an “active, causal agent in space”. By the end of the first year, they additionally realize that their movement, as well, is separate from movement of the mother. That is a huge advance, yet they are still quite limited and cannot yet know what they look like, “in the sense that the infant cannot recognize its own face”. By the time an average toddler reaches 18–24 months, they will discover themselves and recognize their own reflection in the mirror, however research has found that this age varies widely with differing socioeconomic levels and differences relating to culture and parenting. They begin to acknowledge the fact that the image in front of them, who happens to be them, moves; indicating that they appreciate and can consider the relationship between cause and effect that is happening. By the age of 24 months the toddler will observe and relate their own actions to those actions of other people and the surrounding environment. Once an infant has gotten a lot of experience, and time, in front of a mirror, it is only then that they are able to recognize themselves in the reflection, and understand that it is them. For example, in a study, an experimenter took a red marker and put a fairly large red dot (so it is visible by the infant) on the infant’s nose, and placed them in front of a mirror. Prior to 15 months of age, the infant will not react to this, but after 15 months of age, they will either touch their nose, wondering what it is they have on their face, or point to it. This indicates the appearance that they recognize that the image they see in the reflection of the mirror is themselves. There is somewhat of the same thing called the mirror-self recognition task, and it has been used as a research tool for numerous years, and has given, and lead to, key foundations of the infant’s sense/awareness of self. For example, “for Piaget, the objectification of the bodily self occurs as the infant becomes able to represent the body’s spatial and causal relationship with the external world (Piaget, 1954).< Facial recognition places a big pivotal point in their development of self-awareness. By 18 months, the infant can communicate their name to others, and upon being shown a picture they are in, they can identify themselves. By two years old, they also usually acquire gender category and age categories, saying things such as “I am a girl, not a boy” and “I am a baby or child, not a grownup”. Evidently, it is not at the level of an adult or an adolescent, but as an infant moves to middle childhood and onwards to adolescence, they develop a higher level of self-awareness and self-description.
As infants develop their senses, using multiple senses of in order to recognize what is around them, infants can become affected by something known as “facial multi stimulation”. In one experiment by Filippetti, Farroni, and Johnson, an infant of around five months in age is given what is known as an “enfacement illusion”. “Infants watched a side-by-side video display of a peer’s face being systematically stroked on the cheek with a paintbrush. During the video presentation, the infant’s own cheek was stroked in synchrony with one video and in asynchrony with the other”. Infants were proven to recognize and project an image of a peer with that of their own, showing beginning signs of facial recognition cues onto one’s self, with the assistance of an illusion.
Around school age a child’s awareness of personal memory transitions into a sense of one’s own self. At this stage, a child begins to develop interests along with likes and dislikes. This transition enables the awareness of an individual’s past, present, and future to grow as conscious experiences are remembered more often. As a preschooler, they begin to give much more specific details about things, instead of generalizing. For example, the preschooler will talk about the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, and the New York Rangers hockey team, instead of the infant just stating that he likes sports. Furthermore, they will start to express certain preferences (e.g., Tod likes mac and cheese) and will start to identify certain possessions of theirs (e.g., Lara has a bird as a pet at home). At this age, the infant is in the stage Piaget names the pre operational stage of development. The infant is very inaccurate at judging themselves because they do not have much to go about. For example, an infant at this stage will not associate that they are strong with their ability to cross the jungle gym at their school, nor will they associate the fact that they can solve a math problem with their ability to count.
One becomes conscious of their emotions during adolescence. Most children are aware of emotions such as shame, guilt, pride and embarrassment by the age of two, but do not fully understand how those emotions affect their life. By age 13, children become more in touch with these emotions and begin to apply them to their own lives. A study entitled “The Construction of the Self” found that many adolescents display happiness and self-confidence around friends, but hopelessness and anger around parents due to the fear of being a disappointment. Teenagers were also shown to feel intelligent and creative around teachers, and shy, uncomfortable and nervous around people they were not familiar with.
In adolescent development, the definition self-awareness also has a more complex emotional context due to the maturity of adolescents compared to those in the early childhood phase, and these elements can include but are not limited to self-image, self-concept, and self–consciousness along many other traits that can relate to Rochat’s final level of self awareness, however it is still a distinct concept within its own previous definition. Social interactions mainly separate the element of self-awareness in adolescent rather than in childhood, as well as further developed emotional recognition skills in adolescents. Sandu, Pânișoară, and Pânișoară demonstrate these in their work with teenagers and demonstrates that there is a mature sense of self-awareness with students who were aged 17, which in term provides a clear structure with how elements like self-concept, self-image, and self-consciousness relate to self-awareness.
As children reach their adolescent stages of life, the acute sense of emotion has widened into a meta cognitive state in which mental health issues can become more prevalent due to their heightened emotional and social development. There are elements of contextual behavioral science such as Self-as-Content, Self-as-Process and Self-as-Context, involved with adolescent self-awareness that can associate with mental health. Moran, Almada, and McHugh presented the idea that these domains of self are associated with adolescent mental health in various capacities. Anger management is also a domain of mental health that is associated with the concept of self-awareness in teens. Self-awareness training has been linked to lowering anger management issues and reducing aggressive tendencies in adolescents: “Persons having sufficient self-awareness promote relaxation and awareness about themselves and when going angry, at the first step they become aware of anger in their inside and accept it, then try to handle it”.
The medical term for not being aware of one’s deficits is anosognosia, or more commonly known as a lack of insight. Having a lack of awareness raises the risks of treatment and service nonadherence. Individuals who deny having an illness may be against seeking professional help because they are convinced that nothing is wrong with them. Disorders of self-awareness frequently follow frontal lobe damage. There are two common methods used to measure how severe an individual’s lack of self-awareness is. The Patient Competency Rating Scale (PCRS) evaluates self-awareness in patients who have endured a traumatic brain injury. PCRS is a 30-item self-report instrument which asks the subject to use a 5-point Likert scale to rate his or her degree of difficulty in a variety of tasks and functions. Independently, relatives or significant others who know the patient well are also asked to rate the patient on each of the same behavioral items. The difference between the relatives’ and patient’s perceptions is considered an indirect measure of impaired self-awareness. The limitations of this experiment rest on the answers of the relatives. Results of their answers can lead to a bias. This limitation prompted a second method of testing a patient’s self-awareness. Simply asking a patient why they are in the hospital or what is wrong with their body can give compelling answers as to what they see and are analyzing.
The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory – Cultural Marxism
Nursery children of non-western parents are inferior at speaking Danish, have an inferior mathematical understanding and have inferior social skills than children of Danish parents, the study of 13,000 children in Denmark shows.