Who came up with it?
It is a concept that was created by Charles Cooley, a sociologist born in 1864. He attended the University of Michigan where he got his undergraduate degree in engineering and he returned later to study sociology. In 1918, he served as the president of the American Sociological Association. Cooley is most famous for his theory of the “Looking-Glass self”.
The concept of the looking-glass self can be understood through three main concepts that all relate to how we create our self-image.
The degree of personal insecurity you display in social situations is determined by what you believe other people think of you.
The view of ourselves comes from the contemplation of personal qualities and impressions of how others perceive us. Actually, how we see ourselves does not come from who we really are, but rather from how we believe others see us.
Building a strong self-image
“I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind.”
Charles Horton Cooley.
The main point here is that people think and shape their self-concepts based on their own perception of how others see them forming a full self-image as the reflections of the responses and evaluations of others happen in the same environment.
Since an early age we were treated in a variety of ways and taught how to treat others in different or the same way, depending on the knowledge each one has. If parents, relatives or any other important people shows that for them their opinion matters they tend to raise the child as smart with certain types of expectations.
As a consequence the child will eventually believe that s/he is the smart ass. This is a whole process that continues as we are growing up.
The sociological theory of socialisation is that people in our close environment serve as the “mirrors” that reflect images of ourselves.
Then we tend to start thinking on how people really feel towards us, based on the judgments made of us, the ultimate result is that we often change our behavior based on how WE feel about the others.
Would you be able to know who you really are?
After finding out who you really are, can you be sure of it?
We aim to be liked and appreciated by everyone whether for a hidden talent or personality or even the physical aspects. We can perceive this as the “weak self-image” when we consider other people’s opinion more important than our own.
The concept of “Looking Glass-Self” offers insight not only into our thinking and how we form our own identity as well as basing it on how others see us. As long as we are interacting with different people we will be vulnerable for changing our own self-image, it is a procedure that will stay around for more years, until one day (which can never happen) that we are all thinking the same way.