How we form our image and the Mirror I Theory

How we form our image and the Mirror I Theory

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Have you ever felt as if the mere presence of other people made you feel uncomfortable or tense?

When we don't know exactly what other people think of us, we can show feelings of insecurity. According to the American sociologist Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929), The degree of personal insecurity we exhibit in social situations is determined by what we believe other people think of us..


  • 1 The Mirror I
  • 2 Build a strong self image
  • 3 Our self-image
  • 4 What makes up our self-image
  • 5 Personally Identified Images
  • 6 Self-Knowledge Questions

The Mirror I

Cooley's concept of I mirror, affirms that the ego of a person grows from the social interactions that the individual exerts with those around him. So the vision of ourselves derives from the contemplation of personal qualities and the impressions of how others perceive us. Actually, the way we see each other does not come from who we really are, but rather from how we think others see us.

People form their self-concept based on their understanding of how others perceive them. Our own image, therefore, is the result of our own reflections on the evaluations of those around us.

If parents, relatives and other important people believe that a child is intelligent, they will tend to educate him with certain types of expectations. As a consequence, the child will eventually believe that he is an intelligent person. This is a process that continues when we grow. On the contrary, if you think that your closest friends and family see you as a kind of "fool", you are likely to project that self-image in yourself even if it has nothing to do with reality.

According to Cooley, this process has three steps:

  • First, we imagine what appearance we show in front of other people. Sometimes this image is quite accurate, but it can also be wrong, since it is simply based on our subjective assumptions.
  • Second, we imagine what judgments people make of us based on our appearance.
  • Finally, we imagine how the person feels about us, based on our own judgment. The end result is that we often change our behavior based on how we feel that people perceive us.

Build 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.

So, How can we, or anyone else, know who we really are? Can we be sure of our "true self," separated from all things in the outside social world? In reality, the "real social world" as we often perceive it is not only incorrect, but it can be a mere illusion. You have probably experienced on more than one occasion aversion towards someone you just met, but after spending more time with that person you discover that in reality that first impression was unfounded, and you end up being good friends.

All people want to be loved and appreciated for their talent or their personality. But if we have a weak image of ourselves, if we believe that the opinion of others is more important than ours, we can end up living our lives according to the expectations of others.

The construction of an "imagined self-image" is done unintentionally. We are not aware that often we try to adjust to the image that we imagine other people expect from us. If a person develops a negative self-image, the self-esteem will tend to be low. Low self-esteem and poor self image have long been associated with a range of psychological problems, and it is necessary to counteract the passive individual who depends largely on the social world to build self-image. Therefore, we must develop a self-image that is based more on our own assessments than on how we believe others see us.

The concept of the mirror offers us a vision not only of our own thinking, but also of how we form our identity based on how others see us. While we are interacting with others we are vulnerable to change our own image, a process that will continue throughout our lives.

Our self-image

But regardless of this interesting theory, our self-image is actually the conceptualization that we form in our minds about the type of person we are.

We all draw a mental image of ourselves, and it is a picture that tends to remain relatively stable over time unless we take deliberate steps to modify it. Some researchers use the term self-scheme (the term scheme referring to model or representation) when studying the self-image and how we acquire it.

There is evidence that the image of ourselves that we develop is largely based on what we have learned from our environment, such as what other people have told us about us since childhood or how they seemed to respond to our actions. But Our self-concept is also based in part on our own reactions, on our unique interpretations of events and especially on the way we appreciate each other. ourselves and the nature of our interactions with others. There is much evidence that the important thing is that we see ourselves.

Our self-image is important for many reasons, but mostly because it significantly affects our general psychological well-being and the character of our relationships.

What makes up our self-image

The image we have of ourselves is formed by several factors:

What we believe to be

The conscience that we have acquired of ourselves through our experiences and that shapes what each one thinks of himself.

What we want to be

The image with which we compare ourselves through models referentials that imply cultural, social, family values, etc. it is the idealized image, the closer it is to what we think we are, the more coherence we will have and therefore the happier we will be. One way of working is what will you do to get from the image you think you are to the one you would like to be? And chart the action plan.

What others see in us

This conditions attitudes and behavior towards ourselves.. This section is very interesting, sometimes it coincides how we think they see us with what the person on our left has said, here the reflection would be: do you feel identified with that image ?, and if you do not like what actions do that project that image?

The image with which we are identified by ...

"As is the people of such age", "of such sex", "those of such profession", or of any of the groups of belonging in which we integrate, as they form the basis of stereotypes

Today we are going to propose a practical exercise of self-knowledge to see how far you know yourself. You dare?

It may interest you: Self-knowledge test

Personally Identified Images

Below you can see a series of images with a character that stages an action or behavior.

Self-knowledge questions

This dynamic is an excellent work tool to get to know each other better and draw up an action plan based on the results obtained.

  1. How do I think I usually act? Why?
  2. How do I think others see me (classmates, family, bosses)? Why?
  3. What number would I like to be seen? Why?
  4. What number would I not like to be seen? Why?
  5. How do I think the majority usually acts (teachers, bosses, classmates ... as the case may be)? Why?
  6. How do I see the number that sits on my right? Why?

With this last question we get an idea of ​​the image we project.

We will have greater self-esteem when

  • My "real me" matches my "ideal me"
  • The "image I don't want to project" is far from my "real self"


  1. Sigebert

    Bravo, your idea it is very good

  2. Kigat

    Anything especial.

  3. Kazrazuru

    Certainly. I agree with told all above. We can communicate on this theme.

  4. Vurn

    Bravo, it seems to me, is the magnificent phrase

  5. Hermes

    In my opinion, you are wrong. I propose to discuss it.

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