Who Am I Becoming? A Theoretical Framework for Understanding Self-Concept Change

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Self-concept change is a phenomenon that many social psychologists have identified through various constructs and phenomena, but to date no one has provided an integrated framework. This review integrates research in self-psychology, and proposes three common elements that occur during the process of self-concept change. The first element is the degree to which the self-aspects are rewarded (or punished in the environment). The second element is comparing oneself with others, whether that involves noting differences or similarities. The third element is the cognitive accessibility of social and physical stimuli, oftentimes through frequent exposure of those stimuli. In many cases, a combination of these three elements is sufficient to explain the change process. Phenomena that involve the three elements and future applications are discussed.