Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 36
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3448-8.ch009


The concept of self is a critical part of personality and consumer behavior. The concept of self allows individuals to be introspective, to evaluate their goals and abilities, to plan for the future, to exert their control, or to feel complete. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, without selves, people cannot be self-centered, self-serving, self-promoting, or self-critical. In the lack of self-image, an individual cannot feel self-conscious, ashamed, guilty, or embarrassed. The self contributes to human experiences in the best and the worst moments; it can describe as a gift and a curse.
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The Self-Concept

The concept of the self is more explanatory than personality to the point of how the individual perceives and evaluate himself. Therefore, self-concept is a valuable tool for marketers helps to gain insights into consumer behavior, as the point out the acquiring symbolic value of the goods in the market. The self-theory allows application of the behavioral concept of symbolic interaction that provides meaning to the association of an individuals’ buying behavior with their self-concept (Grubb & Grathwohl, 1967).

The self represents a person who is aware of, her or his attitudes, feelings, perceptions, and evaluations of himself or herself as an object, and defined as “the totality of the individual’s thoughts and feelings concerning (the) self as an object” (Rosenberg, 1989). The self-concept refers to the person’s view of him or herself that includes such as performances, preferences, success, gender roles, possessions (tangible-nontangible), and identity. The self-concept is the answer the question of “Who am I?” (Schreuder, 2014: 167).

Figure 1.

Self-concept: Who am I?

Source: Steemet, 2017.

The founder of modern formations of the self is William James (1890: 291), and he defined the self-concept in details and expressed the self “as the total of all a human beings “CAN” do. Not only humans’ bodies and psychic powers, but their clothes and their houses, views, and children, their ancestors and friends, their reputation and works, his lands, and yacht and bank-account. All these things give them the same emotions. If they wax and prosper, he feels triumphant; if they dwindle and die away, he feels cast down, -not necessarily in the same degree for each thing, but in much the same way for all” (Russell, 1988: 139).

The looking-glass self is a concept introduced by Charles Horton Cooley in 1902. Cooley identified self-concept with “the looking glass self,” and evaluated self-concept based on social relations with others. According to the theory, peoples’ self-concept develops with interaction with others and changes depending on the social bonds. Cooley claimed that how we see ourselves does not come from who we are, but rather from how we believe, others see us (Isaksen, 2013). In theory, reference group and significant others reflect one’s image of self as the mirror (Gecas & Schwalbe, 1983).

Figure 2.

The looking glass self

Source: Tapsell, 2010

The self has not taken the center in consumer psychology until the 1950s; Levy was the first person who implied the importance of self in consumer behavior (Levy, 1959).

Self-concept’s role in the consumer behavior listed as below (Grubb & Grathwohl, 1967; Sirgy, 1982).

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