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Self-image is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only details that are potentially available to an objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair color, etc.), but also items that have been learned by persons about themselves, either from personal experiences or by internalizing the judgments of others.
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Self-image may consist of six types:
- Self-image resulting from how an individual sees oneself.
- Self-image resulting from how others see the individual.
- Self-image resulting from how the individual perceives the individual seeing oneself.
- Self-image resulting from how the individual perceives how others see the individual.
- Self-image resulting from how others perceive how the individual sees oneself.
- Self-image resulting from how others perceive how others see the individual.
These six types may or may not be an accurate representation of the person. All, some, or none of them may be true.
A more technical term for self-image that is commonly used by social and cognitive psychologists is self-schema. Like any schema, self-schemas store information and influence the way we think and remember. For example, research indicates that information which refers to the self is preferentially encoded and recalled in memory tests, a phenomenon known as "self-referential encoding". Self-schemas are also considered the traits people use to define themselves, they draw information about the self into a coherent scheme.
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