Social Sources of Information in the Development of Self

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Interpersonal and cultural sources of information in the development of self are compared. Specifically, this involves the comparison of the effects of the appraisals of significant others and self‐perception using shared criteria. Factors that affect the importance of these two processes, such as the presence of institutionalized indicators, the visibility of the behavior for others, and normative barriers to evaluative communication, are discussed. Finally, empirical evidence is presented on the relative effects of significant others' appraisals and cultural shared indicators of academic ability and physical attractiveness on corresponding self‐ratings for children in grades 4–8 and grade 12. Self‐appraisals of ability are found to be more highly related to objective variables than are self appraisals of physical attractiveness, suggesting that culturally‐based self‐perception is more important when there are institutionalized indicators for an attribute. The relationship between others' appraisal and self‐appraisals of ability are largely spurious, casting doubt on previous research that relied only on zero‐order correlations. Significant others' appraisals are not important for either self‐ratings of ability or physical attractiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-79
Number of pages11
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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