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Charles Cooley- Looking glass self

Charles Cooley's "looking glass self" theory explains how our self-image is shaped by our perception of how others see us. This three-step process involves imagining how we appear to others, how they evaluate us, and developing feelings about ourselves based on these impressions. This theory suggests our self-identities could be based on both correct and incorrect perceptions of others' views. Created by Brooke Miller.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Robert Saldana
    "we are influenced by what we imagine others opinions to be."

    that's deep
    (88 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user tian1di2 jax
    is it always better to ask the teacher's perspective of the student when receiving a colorfully graded paper back?
    (11 votes)
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  • piceratops tree style avatar for user Siyuan Yu
    Is there a substantial difference between "How do I appear to others" and "What must others think of me"? I thought about it but don't understand why they had to be listed separately, the second is toned to be more assured (with the "must") but they're essentially saying the same thing.
    (0 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Eric Christenson
      There is indeed a substantial, albeit subtle, difference between "How do I appear to others?" and "What must others think of me?". The first question relates to objective facts about how we appear to others, whereas the second question relates to the subjective appraisals we assume that others make about us based on these facts.

      I'll use an alternative example to the one given in the video. Say it's exam season and we have been neglecting our hygiene in favour of maximizing our study time. In response to the first question, we objectively appear to others as unkempt, since our hair is greasy and we're wearing a stained t-shirt. Now, what kinds of attributions do others make about our character in relation to this appearance--that is, what must others think of us? We might assume that others view us as unhygienic or too lazy to look after our cleanliness. Or, more optimistically, we might assume that others think of us as too studious to worry about something as trivial as washing our hair.

      Thus, the second question is about subjective appraisals, whereas the first question is simply about objective facts.

      To bring the above example home, we might revise our impression of ourselves as someone who really is unhygienic or someone who really is studious, depending on what we assume others think of us. Or we might not, since we know that we shower regularly and do our laundry often when we don't have a looming exam.

      Hope this answers your question!
      (24 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Areeba Abid
    How is this different from the Thomas theorem?
    (3 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user zhangdandan
    Is there any empirical evidence to support Mead's theory or Cooley's theory?
    (2 votes)
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  • leaf grey style avatar for user Hannah Miles
    why would the person be going through the looking glass self feel embarrassed?
    (1 vote)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Eston C Clare
    How does this relate to meta-cognition? Is this theory a form or akin to meta-cognition?
    (0 votes)
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    • female robot ada style avatar for user Eric
      Well, meta-cognition is thinking about your own thinking processes and patterns. The looking glass self theory states that we change our self-perception based on how we guess others perceive us, not on how they actually perceive us. If you revise how you think about yourself, then you are changing your mind about your self-concept. But you are not analyzing why your self-concept is the way it is, which is meta-cognition.

      For instance, a series of thoughts that are on the level of cognition are

      "I am a funny person. But Shelley did not laugh at my joke which means she did not think it was funny. Maybe I am not as funny as I think I am."

      Meta-cognition is "why do I think I am funny in the first place?"
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user 😊
    determine your personal or social identity in the looking glass self theory.
    (0 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Socialization describes the process by which people learn the attitudes, values, and behaviors that are appropriate and expected by their culture and community. And it typically occurs through the observation of and interaction with the people we are surrounded by. And this can include those who are close to us, like our family, friends, and teachers, but it can also include everyone else that we come across in our daily lives. Our doctors, nurses, celebrities that we see on TV and in the movies, even the people standing in line next to us at the supermarket. They all have something to teach us about how we should act within our community. But socialization also shapes our self image, or how we view ourselves. And sociologist, Charles Cooley used the term looking glass self in order to describe this process. And he theorized that our view of ourselves comes not only from our direct contemplation of our personal qualities, but also from our perceptions about how we are being perceived by others. And Cooley thought this happened through three steps. First, we imagine how we must appear to others, to our families or friends or just people on the street. Second, we imagine how they must evaluate us, based on their observations of us. So do we come across as intelligent, or funny, or shy, or maybe just awkward? And third, we develop feelings about ourselves based on our impressions of their evaluations and their observations. And one critical aspect of this theory that I want to point out, is that Cooley believed that we are not actually being influenced by the opinions of others, but instead we are being influenced by what we imagine the opinions of other people to be. So according to this theory, we might develop our self identities based on both correct and incorrect perceptions of how others see us. So let's say that we have this teacher and they're grading a paper very harshly. They're grading it very critically. And they're doing this because they think that the student who wrote this paper actually had a lot of potential. And so they're grading that student's paper harshly in order to help them reach it. So let's say our student gets their paper back and notices that it's full of red ink marks and corrections from the teacher. How might that student interpret this? And how might that influence their self image? First they might observe that the teacher criticized them harshly on this paper. Second, they think that teacher probably did so, because they see the student as not being very intelligent. And then finally, our student comes to the conclusion that, based on this, they're probably not very good at literary analysis. So here the student is acting on an incorrect perception of what they think the teacher believes. And because our attitudes can often influence our behaviors, this might result in the student putting less effort into the class, instead of more effort like the teacher originally wanted. But this doesn't have to be the end of our story. Because it can also be influenced by future interactions. So let's say that this student talks to the teacher after class about why they graded so harshly. At that point the teacher might explain that they think the student is on the right track, but that they need to put in a little more effort. And so because of this additional interaction, the student was able to revise his or her incorrect perceptions and this could lead the student to developing a different self perspective.