The topic of self-awareness is one of the vital themes discussed by the scholars of social sciences. Many scientific definitions regard self-awareness as a sophisticated construct that is exceptionally evident in humans and is potentially linked to our situational experiences (Nida-Rümelin, 2017). Even though some of this concept’s aspects are still debated, it is true that proper self-awareness differs from one individual to another, causing interaction challenges to arise. This essay will review the most acclaimed points of view on this topic, discuss the relationship between awareness of oneself and perception, and provide a personal example of a miscommunication situation due to individual differences.
The understanding of self-awareness is one of the most prominent topics in psychological research. Self-awareness is most commonly defined as “the capacity to become the object of one’s own attention” (Linkola et al., 2017, p. 2). This explanation implies that a subject can only be called self-aware when it is knowledgeable of its sensory experiences and able to distinguish itself from another object (Nida-Rümelin, 2017). Any person or creature able to make themselves the target of their thoughts can be regarded as capable of self-awareness (Linkola et al., 2017). Furthermore, being aware of one’s own experiences is a complicated process that often needs a thorough description. Morin (2017) presents a detailed overview of the basic self-related concepts: public, private, and meta self-awareness. The author suggests that these levels correspond to the specific aspects of one’s individuality that become the targets of attention (Morin, 2017). As such, public self-awareness refers to the person’s behaviors and appearances that can be seen by other people this person interacts with (Morin, 2017). Overall, the public self is one of the essential concepts for a proper understanding of self-awareness.
The most critical concept within self-awareness is directly related to inner values. The potential of the private or inner self was most thoroughly researched by Baumeister and Tice (1986), who propose three additional components to self-awareness. The first element is described as a self-concept, a version of one’s self that he or she believes to be seen by the public eye (Baumeister & Tice, 1986). This includes the individual’s beliefs about their social acceptance, skills, and relations (Baumeister & Tice, 1986). The second part of private self-awareness is the actual self, which is how one person sees their characteristics, attributes, and values (Baumeister & Tice, 1986). Lastly, the third element in private awareness is named the ideal self, which envelops the particular traits that a person aims to obtain (Baumeister & Tice, 1986). Altogether, self-awareness seems to be comprised of four necessary components: public self, self-concept, the actual and the ideal selves. Baumeister and Tice (1986) regard these phenomena as the four selves – the initial basis of self-awareness. All of these elements can play a vital role in investigating the nature of the perceived self.
Being aware of one’s attributes requires a general ability to perceive surrounding objects and people. Many scholars stress the importance of the relationship between self-awareness and perception, stating that one is impossible without the other (Giananti, 2020). Perception is a crucial trait consisting of the “mass of sensations, events, objects and scenes that constantly bombard our sensory systems” (Mather, 2016, para. “Consciousness and Perception). Understanding all the information that is available through perceptions performs a key role in self-awareness, providing necessary data about the person’s appearance, social standing, and environment (Giananti, 2020). It seems that perception is deeply involved with awareness processes regarding people’s attributes.
Differences in perceiving oneself and the situative characteristics can sometimes influence the interactions between individuals, causing various consequences. In my experience, such differences can significantly change the flow of communication. For example, I was once requested to participate in a public speaking event, which required an exceptional amount of preparation. Even though I had perfect scientific knowledge, I was still highly nervous, as I consider myself shy and self-conscious. During the speech, I felt extremely uncomfortable and noticed every mistake in phrasing that was made. However, my colleagues were considerably inspired by my performance, and after the event, a miscommunication between us happened. My perceptions of myself and the situation were negative, while my friends viewed the whole experience positively. For some time, it was especially challenging for us to realize each other’s understanding of the situation.
Various aspects of self-awareness can be dissimilar among people. As stated by Vess (2019), several levels of self-related experience are present in different individuals. It is explained that particular individuals are capable of extensive research into their beliefs and values, as well as their strengths and weaknesses (Vess, 2019). Nevertheless, other people can be contradictively unaware of their own feelings and emotions, leading to severe psychological consequences, such as repressed anger and self-hatred (Vess, 2019). Additionally, Neumann et al. (2017) provide compelling evidence that an increased level of emotional awareness can be highly beneficial to those suffering from such diseases as alexithymia. These findings state that improving one’s self-awareness is not only a philosophical but a physical advantage (Neumann et al., 2017). Overall, insight into one’s private self and connectedness to inner thoughts is a useful psychological support instrument.
In conclusion, several important topics related to self-awareness were thoroughly discussed in this essay. It is clear that being aware of oneself is a sophisticated process, which can be divided into specific levels. These levels represent the range of public and private aspects that are accessible to people through inner connectedness. Including potential outcomes of various self-awareness states for separate individuals is essential for proper investigation of this construct, allowing to locate the starting points for successful communication outcomes.
Baumeister, R. E., & Tice, D. M. (1986). Four selves, two Motives, and a substitute process self-regulation model. In R. F. Baumeister (Ed.), Public Self and Private Self (pp. 63–74). Springer.
Giananti, A. (2020). I know how I know: Perception, self-awareness, self-knowledge. Synthese, 1-21. Web.
Mather, G. (2016). Foundations of Sensation and Perception. Psychology Press.
Morin, A. (2017). Toward a glossary of self-related terms. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1-8. Web.
Neumann, D., Malec, J. F., & Hammond, F. M. (2017). Reductions in alexithymia and emotion dysregulation after training emotional self-awareness following traumatic brain injury: A phase I trial. The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 32(5), 286–295. Web.
Nida-Rümelin, M. (2017). Self-Awareness. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 8(1), 55–82. Web.
Vess, M. (2019). Varieties of conscious experience and the subjective awareness of one’s “true” self. Review of General Psychology, 23(1), 89–98. Web.