Self-consciousness is an acute sense of self-awareness. It is a preoccupation with oneself, as opposed to the philosophical state of self-awareness, which is the awareness that one exists as an individual being. An unpleasant feeling of self-consciousness may occur when we realize that we are being watched or observed, the feeling that "everyone is looking" at us. Some people are habitually more self-conscious than others. Feelings of self-consciousness are sometimes associated with shyness or paranoia.
Psychologists frequently distinguish between two kinds of self-consciousness, private and public. Private self-consciousness is a tendency to introspect and examine one's inner self and feelings. Public self-consciousness is an awareness of the self as it is viewed by others. This kind of self-consciousness can result in self-monitoring and social anxiety. Both private and public self-consciousness are viewed as personality traits that are relatively stable over time, but they are not correlated. Just because an individual is high on one dimension doesn't mean that he or she is high on the other.
Different levels of self-consciousness affect behavior, as it is common for people to act differently when they "lose themselves in a crowd". Being in a crowd, being in a dark room, or wearing a disguise creates anonymity and temporarily decrease self-consciousness (see deindividuation). This can lead to uninhibited, sometimes destructive behavior. Placing an individual in front of a mirror can temporarily increase self-consciousness.