Master NLP Practitioner & Gestalt Therapist
What makes our self concept malleable?
Self-concept tends to be more malleable when people are younger and still going through the process of self-discovery and identity formation. As people age, self-perceptions become much more detailed and organized as people form a better idea of who they are and what is important to them.
Our ability to call up certain self-schemas while ignoring others makes our self-concepts malleable. In a given moment, our self-concept is dependent on the social situations in which we find ourselves and the feedback we receive from the environment. In some cases, this malleability means that certain parts of the self will be especially salient. For example, a 14-year-old may become especially aware of her youth when she is with a group of elderly people. If the same 14-year-old was in a group of other young people, she would be much less likely to think about her age.
Self-concept can be manipulated by asking people to recall times when they behaved in a certain way. If asked to recall times when they worked hard, individuals are generally able to do so; if asked to recall times wen they were lazy, individuals are also generally able to do so. Many people can remember instances of both of these opposing characteristics, but individuals will generally perceive herself as one or the other (and act in accordance with that perception) depending on which one is brought to mind. In this way, self-concept can be altered and adjusted.