Self-concept or self identity refers to the global understanding a sentient being has of him or herself. It presupposes but can be distinguished from self-consciousness, which is simply an awareness of one's self. It is also more general than self-esteem, which is the purely evaluative element of the self-concept.
The self-concept is composed of relatively permanent self-assessments, such as personality attributes, knowledge of one's skills and abilities, one's occupation and hobbies, and awareness of one's physical attributes. For example, the statement, "I am lazy" is a self-assessment that contributes to the self-concept. In contrast, the statement "I am tired" would not normally be considered part of someone's self-concept, since being tired is a temporary state. Nevertheless, a person's self-concept may change with time, possibly going through turbulent periods of identity crisis and reassessment.
The self-concept is not restricted to the present. It includes past selves and future selves. Future selves or "possible selves" represent individuals' ideas of what they might become, what they would like to become, and what they are afraid of becoming. They correspond to hopes, fears, standards, goals, and threats. Possible selves may function as incentives for future behavior and they also provide an evaluative and interpretive context for the current view of self.
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