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CHAPTER 4 Self-Understanding and Self-Regulation in Middle Childhood Hazel I. Markus and Paula S. Nurius Theoretical work in both psychology and sociology accords self-concept a critical role in organizing past behavior and in directing future be- havior. Self-concept is viewed broadly as the meeting ground of the indi- vidual and society and represents the individual's efforts to find personal meaning and understanding. Self-concept has been studied with respect to virtually every conceivable domain of behavior, including such diverse con- cems as cognitive ability and competence, moral behavior, occupational choice, delinquency and deviance, friendship pattems, family relations, and health and adjustment. The implicit view of many of these studies, and the one proposed here, is that self-concept is not incidental to the stream of behavior but functions to mediate and regulate the stimuli provided by the environment. Self~concept is not the only psychological structure implicated in guiding behavior, but it is a central one. In this chapter we explore the development of self-concept during middle childhood, focusing on both the content of self-concept-what children understand about themselves and the function of self-concept- how it may control or regulate behavior. Self-understanding and self-regulation have nearly always been treated as independent, and virtually no research relates the two. Each is important for middle childhood, and each could have been the focus of a separate chapter. We discuss them together to highlight the idea that the two areas are interdependent. This interdependence is particularly evident during mid- dle childhood. 147

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148 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD In recent efforts to understand the self and to link it to the regulation of behavior, it is connected with a hyphen to an ever-increasing set of phenomena. There are studies not only of self-concept, self-esteem, and self-regulation but also self-understanding, self-awareness, self-evaluation, self-monitoring, self-presentation, self-consciousness, self-control, and self- management. This recent surge of interest in the self is reflected in several thorough collections of empirical and theoretical work, including Bandura (1978), Craighead et al. (1978), Damon and Hart (1982), Flavell and Ross ~ 1981), Harter ~ 1983b), Lynch et al. ~ 1981), Rosenberg ~ 1979), Rosenberg and Kaplan ~ 1 982 ), SuIs ~ 1 982 ), and Wegner and ValIacher 1980~. For the most part these efforts are not integrative reviews that critically evaluate the state of research but rather are chapters or collections of papers summarizing the empirical and theoretical results of the recent interest in the self. They provide a clear picture of what is known, suggest some promising directions for further effort, ancl reveal issues that are not yet appropriately understood. Taken as a whole, they examine many important concems, but a unified consideration of both the content and the behavioral function of the self-concept is yet to be made. Moreover, the research specifically relevant to middle childhood is scattered throughout these works and constitutes only a small fraction of the total. Compared with research on adults, the range of self-concept research specific to school-age children has been extremely limited. In addition, most empirical research on the self-concept has been decidedly atheoretical, especially with regard to school-age children. The vast majority of the studies have investigated only a single aspect of the self-concept: self- esteem (how good or bad children fee! about themseIves). The premise un- derlying almost all research on the self is that self-concept is not just reflective or incidental to the ongoing behavior but is importantly engaged in mediating and regulating behavior. Whether one focuses on the recent surge of empirical work on the self or on some of the earlier theoretical statements about self- concept (e.g., Adler, 1972; Comb and Snygg, 1959; Homey, 1953;; Kelly, 1955; Rogers, 1951; Sullivan, 1953), one idea is clear: self-concept is critically implicated in behavior. Moreover, if one is interested in significant behavior change, one must change self-concept. Four features of middle childhood mark this period as especially significant in shaping the content and function of a child's self-concept. Between the ages of 6 and 12, most children begin having extensive contact with society and must intensify their efforts to come to terms with both their own needs and goals and those of others in their social environments (e.g., parents, teachers, peers). They become less egocentric and are thus better able to empathize and take the perspective of another person. As a result, they are

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SELF UNDERSTANDING AND SELF-REGULATION 149 increasingly sensitive to the views of others and to social, as opposed to material, reinforcers. Also, during middle childhood, their repertoire of concepts and skills continues to grow at a rapid rate. The acquisition of a variety of intellectual, social, artistic, and athletic skills provides new do- mains for self-definition. The influence of these characteristics of micicile childhood on the devel- opment of self-understanding and self-regulation are dealt with by the major clevelopmental theorists, although their views are somewhat inconsistent. Freud (1956) viewed middle childhood as a period of latency when, in contrast to earlier periods of development, children are relatively free from domination by the id. It is the age of the ego, the time at which the child can, in a relatively unconflictec! manner, turn away from the family to the outside world. This allows the child to become rapidly socialized-to develop both the self and the social knowledge necessary to become a member of society. Cooley (1902) and Mead ( 1934) stressed that the basis of the self-concept is the individual's perception of the reactions of others. Middle childhood, as the time when individuals become most intensely aware of the evaluation of others, can thus been seen as a critical period for the development of the social self. According to Erikson (1959), middle childhood is the stage of self-development that can best be characterized by the conviction "l am what ~ learn." The child's increasing interest in learning and developing new skills culminates in a personal "sense of industry" a basic sense of competence (in contrast to one of inferiority) that is relevant both to the mastery of more sophisticated learning tasks and to cooperation. Depending on the experience of this period, children develop views of themselves as industrious and productive or as inferior and inadequate. Piaget (1952), focusing on children's cognitive development, characterized middle chilci- hood as a time when children become less egocentric and much more re- sponsive to the views of others. The development of self-concept, then, is marked by a growing appreciation of the self as a social object. Regulation of Behavior: The Self-System and the Social System Like most researchers, we view self-concept as an essentially social phe- nomenon. To develop a concept of the self, a child must take the self as an object and view it as others do. From the child's point of view, then, constructing a self-concept involves the integration of self-perception with other people's perceptions. The child's self-concept builds on itself as each new item of information is chosen, interpreted, and absorbed into the con- text of previous self-knowledge. The self-concept is not a fixed or a static

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150 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD entity; it is a dynamic structure. Some aspects of it change continually in response to the current interplay of individual and social forces. From a social-psychological perspective, children's behavior can be reg- ulated by their own needs, desires, goals, knowledge, skills, and expectations (self-system forces) or by what other people need, desire, know, expect for them (social-system forces). Under some circumstances, behavior may seem inordinately regulated by the social system (e.g., when a tO-year-old, saving for a bike, is required to buy his sister a birthday present). Under other circumstances, behavior may appear as regulated solely by the individual at the expense of certain social-system constraints or conventions (e.g., when the LO-year-old disregards the gift-giving convention in favor of keeping the money for his bike). Coregulation refers to a coordination and interdependence of these per- sonal and situational forces. Such mutual and reciprocal regulation can be seen as the goal of socialization. When such coregulation occurs, behavior does not seem to be regulated by the social situation, nor does it seem to be personally determined or completely controlled by individual needs and desires. Rather, coregulation stems from intemalized norms and values- those that were originally imposed on the child by the social system but that have since been incorporated into the child's self-system and are now maintained by individual desires and goals. When this occurs, the self-system and the social system can be seen as interdependent. As they participate in more activities and settings and as an increased number of people attempt to regulate their behavior, school-age children develop more sophisticated strategies for controlling their own behavior. Increased self~regulation occurs as children work to control their own be- havior in whatever domains are available (clothes, eating, hobbies, or free- time activities). At the same time, the social system places ever greater demands and constraints on them. Many school-age children, for example, are required to care for younger children, to participate in household chores, to do homework, and to obey a variety of playground and classroom rules. As they mature and are socialized, children's own needs, desires, goals, knowledge, skills, and expectations overlap or become the same as those of society, and coregulation occurs. As a consequence, children begin to com- plete homework, to help others, or to obey rules because they themselves desire to do so. Thus, in middle childhood, children become acutely aware of the social forces on behavior and of the benefits of behaving in accordance with them. Children leam that their own needs can often be met by reg- ulating behavior according to the demands of the larger social system. Children of different ages, of different backgrounds, or of different cultures vary with respect to how much of their behavior is a result of their own goals, knowledge, skills, and expectations and how much is controlled by

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SELF-UNDERSTANDING AND SELF-REGULATION 151 the constraints provided by others. For some children the coordination of self and social-system pressures on behavior is not always successful, and the individual and social forces create an inordinate struggle that continues during most of middle childhood and perhaps throughout life. Only by locating children within their relevant social environments can we begin to make reasoned speculations about the processes of self-definition and self- understanding and the likely role of the resulting self~concept in regulating behavior. Self Concept Tasks of Middle Childhood As children enter middle childhood and strive to become members of society, they are faced with a number of social tasks or problems. These tasks are present throughout life, but effort with respect to them is particularly evident during middle childhood. These tasks shape self-concept in major ways, and growth in the content and function of the self-concepts of school- age children is critically dependent on how these tasks are approached and completed. Four of these tasks are described below. t. Developing a relatively stable and comprehensive understanding of the self. At the most general level, this involves an increasing differentiation of what is "me" from what is "not me" and an understanding, in Goffman's (1959) terms, of what the "territories of the self' are. In earlier periods of devel- opment, self-understancling is likely to be based on ascribed characteristics (e.g., name, boy, brother) and on an understanding of one's own capacities and abilities. In middle childhood, self~understanding expands to reflect other people's perceptions. A key feature of this period is an increasing sensitivity to the needs and expectations of others and to the knowledge of the self that comes from them. A majority of the child's efforts may be directed toward belongingness (particularly with respect to their peers) and developing a social identity through the world of achieved roles to which they have now been introduced (e.g., becoming a friend, a student, a air! scout, a baseball team member). Self-understanding now also includes some awareness of more achieved characteristics, such as values, norms, enduring goals, ideals, future plans, and strategies. 2. Refining one's understanding of how the social world works. During middle childhood, children move beyond simple social-role categorization to the more complex coordination of several social or behavioral roles. They begin to identify the rules governing appropriate social conduct with respect to these more complex role discriminations. A child can understand, for ex- ample, that a parent can also be someone else's child or that the one person can be both nice and mean (Fischer et al., in press).

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152 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD In acquiring a better understanding of the relationships among people, children begin to appreciate more fully the concepts of faimess, power, equality, and status and to further differentiate their early notions of friend- ship and trust. Their social understanding is very often facilitated by a best friend, typically a same~sex peer with whom the child creates a private social world. This private world can be critical for self-concept development be- cause it serves as a training ground for social, emotional, and moral devel- opment. As children interact with peers who don't always share their view of the world, they develop an understanding of the limits of their own perspective. 3. Developing standards and expecranons for one's own behavior. Children must intemalize the standards of their society so that their needs and goals better coincide with those of society. A child increasingly reflects on and incorporates norms not only to please others but also to please the self as well. For the school-age child the task of developing standards is often complicated by having two relevant societies to function within the society of children and the child's larger adult society. The standards and expectations that are incorporated into self-concept are the basis for self-evaluation and self-criticism. A child's self-esteem wit! depend on whether the outcome of these evaluations leads to self-doubt or to self-confidence. Moral development, consisting of more advanced moral reasoning and increased motivation to behave morally, is an especially im- portant aspect of the acquisition of standards and expectations for the self. Essential to moral development is the growing ability to "decanter" and to take another's point of view (Flavell, 1975~. This involves not only being able to differentiate one viewpoint from another but also controlling one's own viewpoint when making inferences about others (Higgins, 1981~. More- over, the school-age child becomes able to hold and integrate multiple and not always congruent views of the self. For example, both the "good" self and the "bad" self can now be identified and to some extent understood. 4. Developing strategies for controlling or managing one's behavior. As chil- dren enjoy increasing freedom and participation in the social worlds, they must assume an increasingly greater responsibility for the control of their behavior. Impulse control strategies are now complemented by the child's motives for reaming, mastery, and accomplishment. School-age children must also team to contend with conflicting goals and expectations (e.g., their own and those of adults, peers) and to cope with the way in which goals, values, and expectations may differ among individuals and situations. This task requires that children develop a behavioral repertoire of self- monitoring, self-presentation, and self-control strategies and skills. It further requires that they believe in their ability to be efficacious and to bring their

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SELF UNDERSTANDING AND SELF-REGULATION 153 behavior into line with personal or social standards. A particularly important aspect of managing one's behavior involves learning to realistically assign and accept responsibility and blame. In the course of solving these four tasks, a child generates a substantial amount of knowledge that increases self-understanding and affects self-reg- ulation. The rate and the extent to which children approach these tasks are not uniform; they vary among children and contexts or situations, depending on factors in the self-system and the social system. The resultant self-knowI- edge includes descriptive information about physical, demographic, and trait characteristics as well as knowledge about one's behavioral capacities. Per- haps even more important, however, the base of self-knowledge now includes representations of one's needs and motives, both those given by society and those that are relatively more individual and idiosyncratic. Moreover, it contains one's goals, plans, ruses, and behavioral strategies for meeting personal and social standards. In this sense self-concept can be seen as both a product of past social behavior and an impetus for future social behavior. It is this rich and dynamic nature of self-concept that has not been sufficiently appreciated in previous research and that is increasingly the focus of recent studies. In the following sections, we review what is currently known about the nature of self-concept and its role in the regulation of behavior in school- age children. The empirical literature can be roughly organized into two ~ . ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ r 1~ 1 broad categories: research that has focused on the content ot selt-uncter- standing and self-knowledge and research that has focused on the function of self-concept by investigating such processes as self-regulation and self- control. Throughout we highlight the unanswered questions and suggest research to achieve a richer understanding of the content and function of the self-concept of the school-age child. We also examine a number of important social variables that are likely to be associated with variation in the nature of self-understanding and to influence behavioral regulation. RESEARCH ON SELF-UNDERSTANDING Self-Description: From Concrete to Abstract Virtually all of the empirical work on the development of self-understand- ing has examined children's self-descriptions to determine what they reveal about the self as an object of thought. In James's (1910) terms, they have focused on the self as "me" and typically have not been concerned with the

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154 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD self as "I"- that aspect of the self that is active and ongoing arid that contains the processes of thinking and knowing. The generally held view in the developmental literature is that a concept of self has its early roots in chil- dren's abilities to recognize themselves. This rudimentary self-concept is further elaborated and differentiated throughout development as the indi- vidual develops an understanding of those aspects of self that are regarded as significant. The empirical studies on the development of self-knowledge provide a reasonably consistent picture. With increasing age a child's conception of theselfbecomesincreasinglyabstract(BannisterandAgnew,1977;Livesly and Bromiey, 1973; Montemayor and Eisen, 1977; Rosenberg, 1979~. Young children describe themselves in objective, concrete terms, noting their ap- pearance, their address, and their toys. In contrast, adolescents are much more likely to describe themselves in terms of personal beliefs, character- istics, and motivations. For example, a 9-year-old might say, "My name is Bruce, ~ have brown eyes, I'm 9 years old, ~ have 7 people in my family," whereas a 17-year-old air! might say, "I am a human being, ~ am a girl, am an individual" (Montemayor and Eisen, 1977~. Exactly how the concrete, somewhat shallow self-concept of the 6- or 7- year-old evolves into a more complex pattern is unclear. Nor do we under- stand why children select particular categories to use in describing themselves at particular times. McGuire et al. (1978) and McGuire and Padawer-Singer (1976) reported that children, like all others, were likely to think about themselves in terms of those dimensions on which they are distinctive or on which they stand out from others. Thus, young children in classrooms filled with older children were likely to mention their age when asked to "Tell us about yourself." Similarly, the relatively small number of children with red hair were more likely to mention hair color. Black and Hispanic children attending a school that was predominantly white were much more likely to mention their race or ethnic group than were white students. Although these findings about developmental changes in self-knowledge are plausible, Harter (1983b) draws attention to a potential difficulty in using an adult category system to analyze the "Who am I?" responses of children at different developmental levels. The meanings of certain terms used by children take on very different meanings at different ages. Harter noted that when a LO-year-old describes himself or herself as a "person," the term is likely to be used in a very concrete fashion to indicate that "Now ~ am a person who is quite separate or distinct from others." When an 18- year-old uses the word person, it may be in terms of its more abstract me- taphysical sense of "l am a human, ~ am like all other people." Similarly, the mention of air! by a 6-year-old may reflect the realization of gender

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SELF-UNDERSTANDING AND SELF-REGULATION 155 constancy, while the mention of girl by an Il- or 12-year-old may be in reference to thoughts about her social or sexual self. The research on self-understanding could be productively elaborated and extended by focusing on knowledge about the self that is not based solely on physical and psychological traits or categories. By relying on the unstruc- tured "Who am I?" format, researchers may fad! to generate information about other critical aspects of self-knowledge, such as a child's rules, stan- dards, goals, plans, and strategies for maintaining behavior. While children may not have the verbal ability to describe or report efficiently these aspects of self-knowledge, they represent a significant component of their growing self-understanding. Some amount of in-depth, semistructured interviewing may be necessary to elicit these other aspects of self-understanding from school-age children. Guardo and Bohan (1971) successfully used a semistructured interview with children ages 6-9 to evaluate each child's sense of constancy. They found that most children have a sense of self-identity and did not believe, for example, that they could change into an animal, a child of the opposite gender, or even a different child of the same gender. Yet the reasons un- derlying the children's beliefs varied across age levels. Young children thought they could not change because of overt physical or behavioral factors; older children thought they could not change into another child because of dif- ferences in thoughts and feelings. In a study designed to study children's "naive epistemologies," Broughton (1978) confirmed these general findings on self-constancy. While young children are quite likely to confuse the terms body, self, mind, and brain, the 8-year-old child begins to appreciate that a mind is separate from the body and has control over behavior. When a sense of the subject self is achieved, the child can begin to monitor his or her own thoughts and to develop internal personal standards for behavior. At this point, issues of personal regulation and their potential conflict with social regulation are decidedly more apparent for the child. Selman (1980) suggested that even 6- or 7-year-olds can appreciate the distinction between a subjective self and an objective self. Others (e.g., Flavell et al., 1978) have found the emergence of this differentiation around age 3, suggesting that it may bear an important relationship to language development. One sure indicator that a child has differentiated the objective self from the subjective or mental self is an understanding of the concept of self-deception. At about age 8, children appreciate the idea that the self can fool the self that you can talk yourself into saying or `doing one thing while thinking another (Selman, 19801. The processes underlying such self- understanding deserve intensive empirical and conceptual scrutiny, for they

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156 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD are at the heart of how children develop a will or a sense of individual purpose and of how they become aware of both their separateness and connection to the social world. Beyond Self Description Some research using methods other than simple self-descriptions suggests that school-age children may have a much more elaborate and extensive system of self-knowledge than has typically been assumed. Damon and Hart (1982), for example, concluded that some aspects of what they distinguish as the four major senses of self physical self, active self, social self, and psychological self are evident in some form at nearly every age. During middle childhood, they claim, the physical self includes activity~related physical attributes; the active self includes capabilities relative to others; the social self includes activities that are considered in light of others' reactions (approval or disapproval); and the psychological self includes knowledge, learned skills, motivation, or activity-related emotional states. Harter's ( 1983b) mode! of developmental change in self-concept combines a focus on both content and structure. Hypothesizing an increasing differ- entiation as well as an integration of the self-concept, she suggests five dimensions physical attributes, observable attributes, emotions, motives, and cognitions that progress through four states paralleling Piagetian stages, from simple descriptions to trait labels to single abstractions to higher-order abstractions. Future research on self-understanding should concentrate on several as- pects that have yet been fully considered and explored: self-knowledge of emotions, of motives and goals, of skills and abilities, and of social roles. Very little is understood, for example, about children's understanding of emotional states, their origins, or their consequences. Anecdotal evidence suggests that during middle childhood children have some of their most intense emotional experiences. They can be devastated when they are re- jected by a desired peer group, club, or team, and they can be enormously proud of themselves when they get a perfect score on a test or win an athletic event. The function of these experiences in generating enduring self-knowI- edge and in producing an overall level of self-esteem is also not well un- derstood. The empirical work on self-esteem documents that children vary in their sense of goodness or worth and that most children have some understanding of what constitutes a good self and a bad self. Yet for the most part self-esteem has been analyzed separately from the content of self- knowledge; it is therefore difficult to determine the exact antecedents of

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SELF-UNDERSTANDING AND SELF-REGULATION 157 feelings of pride or shame in the self or, reciprocally, the manner in which these feelings may influence the nature and extent of self-knowledge. Children's understanding of their abilities and skills also should be ex- amined. The theoretical work on self and identity formation claims that in middle childhood children develop a sense of their competence and an initial sense of themselves as valued members of society. The adult's global feelings of self-confidence can often be traced to particular events and experiences of this period. Yet little is known about these aspects of self-concept and how they develop. Higgins and. Eccles (1983), for example, suggested that one's enduring self-concept of academic ability is dependent on one's ex- periences in elementary school. A variety of studies on self-esteem in middle childhood also indicate that a child's general feeling of self-worth may be linked to academic experiences (see Epps and Smith, in this volume) and that efforts in other nonacademic areas may not compensate for the feelings of inferiority that can accompany, for example, the disheartening experience of a failure in school. The self-concept also encompasses representations of motives, goals, and potential selves- selves that are hoped for or aspired to (ideal selves) and selves that are feared. We know that children vary in their motives for achievement and affiliation (Atkinson and Birch, 1978; Kohn, 1977), but we are unaware of the specific antecedents or consequences of these motives. In a study of possible selves, Markus and Nurius (1983) suggested that the development of various competencies and abilities may be fostered by social environments that allow individuals to develop a variety of possible selves- the capable self, the productive self, the useful self, the nice self, the im- portant self. In retrospect, it is hardly surprising that there is relatively little empirical work on the dynamic aspects of self on goals, motives, or possible selves. These elements of self-concept often do not have natural language labels, as do behavioral characteristics or qualities; studying them therefore requires a departure from some of the standard self-descriptive techniques. A final, relatively neglected aspect of school-age children's self-under- standing is what they know about their social selves and their place in the social world. Work by McGuire and McGuire (1982) suggests that, by age 8, children derive self-knowledge from social comparisons of all sorts. Ruble (in press) found that young children (less than 7 years old), when asked to describe their performance on a task, used an absolute statement, telling how well they did on a particular task. Older children based their self- evaluations, at least in part, on a comparison of their own behavior with that of other children. Livesly and BromIey ( 1973 ) also documented the use of social comparisons around the age of 7.

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SELF-UNDERSTANDING AND SELF-REGULATION 173 strategies for managing one's own behavior in relationship to others and modes of social comparison, may be influences! by whether one is the first' born or a later-born chilc! or whether one lives in a small or a large family. Zajonc (1976) emphasized the potential importance of family configuration as a social-environmental variable, but he explored it only in relation to intellectual performance. METHODOLOGY Many of the methodological and measurement issues involved in studying self-understanding and self-regulation have been interwoven throughout our discussion of substantive concerns. In many cases, what appears as deficient and inadequate methodology is a direct function of ill-defined constructs and the lack of a comprehensive theoretical context. The use of more clelimited, more precise constructs is necessary. The grand theories that have undergirded previous research are no longer suffi- cient. More integrated and comprehensive theories must clearly define each structure and process in terms of patterns of development. One proposed framework for cognitive development focuses on (1) sequence (What is the order in which developments occurs; (2) synchrony (Which developments occur at the same time as others?~; and (3) constraint (Of all the possible developments, which are most likely to occur?) (Fischer and Bullock, 1981~. Efforts to formulate theoretical paradigms that reflect the dynamic inter- dependence between self-system and social system also would be particularly useful. Karoly's (1977) four-stage mode} and her more recent efforts (in press) at further discrimination among the various influences and skill com- ponents constituting self-management represent noteworthy examples. A further point follows from one general limitation of many self-concept theories that have stressed the importance of the individual's internal pro- cesses while neglecting other objectively measurable variables. Such variables include the individual's previous experience, his or her objective charac- teristics/individual differences, and differences in significant features of the social environment (e.g., family configuration). While the effect of envi- ronmental factors on cognitive development has received considerable at- tention, developmental theorists must now specify how these effects contribute to change in the organization of behavior (Fischer, 1980~. We reiterate the case for more innovative study design emphasized throughout this volume. To adequately chart developmental progress, lon- gitudinal designs are useful. This necessitates, among other things, devel- opmental models and measures that are appropriate to the abilities children of different ages possess. Closely related to this is the need for designs that

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174 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD can better accommodate the dynamic interaction between the self-system and the social system. Admittedly, this is a major dilemma for psychology in general and one that requires considerable ingenuity as well as method- ological sophistication. Studies conducted within the natural contexts of middle childhood that more closely approximate the child's natural life experience would be a potentially useful addition to the research. More detailed methodological suggestions and guidelines can be found in the work of Karoly (1977), which addresses the measurement needs of research on children's self-management, and in research by Wylie ~1979), which explores difficulties in assessing self-concept. CONCLUSION This chapter reviews the major efforts concemed with the content and function of self-concept in children ages 6-12. We have combined two previously disparate literatures one on self-understanding and self-knowI- edge and one on self-regulation and have tried to demonstrate that the study of what children know about themselves becomes most useful when it is linked with past behavior and perceptions and its role in ongoing and future behavioral regulation. Conversely, we have stressed that a complete un- derstanding of the processes of behavioral regulation will require an under- standing of what children know about themselves what rules, standards, values, or goals they have for themselves-and how this knowlege is used to control behavior. An interweaving of these two areas self-understanding and self-regulation will result in a richer, more dynamic, and more inter- active formulation of self-concept, one in which self-concept can be analyzed as both a social consequence and as a social force. In outlining the theoretical and empirical work on self-concept, we have emphasized the importance of viewing self-concept as being determined by both individual and social-system needs and goals. At any point in the individual's life, the current self-concept reflects an organization and inte- gration of the salient self-perceptions. Many of these self-perceptions are determined by the reactions of others. The result is that the content of self- knowlege and the way this knowledge is invoked to regulate behavior are likely to be continually changing as children mature and their social envi- ronments change or expand. In middle childhood the development of self- concept requires that children develop a relatively stable and comprehensive understanding of themselves, that they refine their understanding of how the social world works, that they develop standards and expectations for their own behavior, and that they develop strategies for controlling or man- aging their behavior. Changes in the child (e.g., cognitive development)

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SELF-UNDERSTANI)ING AND SELF-REGULATION 175 and changes in the social environment (e. g., going to school) can be analyzed for their likely impact on these various components of self-concept. As indicated by our review of the literature on self-understanding, much is known about the content of self-concept. What is missing, however, is a broader perspective on self-understanding, one that includes an exami- nation of children's knowledge of their motives, goals, standards, and strat- egies for self-regulation. The role of emotional content in self-concept and the relationship between knowledge of affective states and behavioral reg' ulation are also in need of greater specification. Understanding these ad- ditional aspects of self-knowleclge will enable us to specify more fully the role of self-concept in the regulation of behavior and to understand how self-concept changes in response to the social environment. With respect to behavioral regulation, a number of theoretical perspec- tives, many quite similar,.attempt to explain how children gain control of their behavior. These general approaches to self-management have been quite global in their analysis of self-control. More detailed empirical work on particular self-management tasks is clearly needed. Moreover, research on self-management should be more closely tied to the research on self- knowledge. Finally, the research on self-regulation should be expanded be- yond studies concemed solely with achievement and performance. Despite some significant gaps, our understanding of the role of the in- dividual in regulating his or her own behavior is considerable compared with our understanding of the role of the social system. Research that has im- plicated the social system in behavior has seldom been systematic. In part this is due to the lack of good conceptual models relevant to the problem. From the work of behaviorists and cognitive behaviorists on self-control, we have some knowledge of how minor changes in a very constrained environ- ment influence behavior. With respect to the larger social environment, much less exists. Rosenberg's (1979) work involving social-class differences is an exception, but it has been confined to self-esteem. In developing better models of social-system influence on behavior, the range of links between cognitive developments in the child and social developments should be extensively explored. For example, it is often asserted that children will not engage in social comparison or self-criticism before they are cognitively able to take the perspective of another. The configuraton of the social environ- ment, however, may markedly facilitate or impair this cognitive develop- ment. For example, a child in a family with three other children may be required to take the perspective of another much sooner than an only child. In general, the social environment should not be construed as a monolithic extemal factor that impinges on a fairly stable self. Instead it can be more productively viewed as shaping or creating the social self and, in turn, as

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176 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD being structured by the individual. More models of the mutual and reciprocal influences between the self-system and the social system should provide an understanding of how coregulation between the two systems is achieved and of how individuals become members of society or social beings. While we have some understanding of how the school-age child gains a coherent and stable view of self, we know much less about how the child gains social knowledge and develops interpersonal standards and individual strategies for the control of behavior. Above all, we have stressed in this chapter the need to locate children within their broader social contexts regardless of the particular phenomenon being analyzed and the value of studying self-concept in relation to the regulation of behavior. Quite simply, our review suggests that the nature or content of self-concept should not be studied apart from its social origins or its specific behavioral functions for the individual. REFERENCES Adler, A. 1927 The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World. Aronfreed, J. 1968 Conduct and Conscience: The Socialization of Internal Controls Over Behavior. New York: Academic Press. 1969 The concept of intemalization. In D.A. Goslin, ea., Handbook of Socialization Theory and Research. New York: Rand McNally. 1976 Moral development from the standpoint of a general psychological theory. In T. Lickona, ea., Moral Development and Behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Atkinson, J.W., and Birch, D. 1978 An Introduction to Motivation. Rev. ed. New York: Van Nostrand. Bandura, A. 1973 Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis. Englewood Cliffs, N.].: Prentice-Hall. 1977 Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review 84:191-215. 1978 The self system in reciprocal determinism. American Psychologist 33:344-358. 1981 Self-referent thought: The development of self-eKicacy. In J.H. Flavell and L.D. Ross, ea., Social Cognitive Development: Frontiers and Possible Futures. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 1982 The self and mechanisms of agency. In ]. Suls, ea., Psychological Perspectives on the Self. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. Bandura, A., Ross, D., and Ross, S.A. 1963 Vicarious reinforcement and imitative reaming. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67:601-607. Bannister, D., and Agnew, ]. 1977 The child's construing of self. In J. Cole, ea., Nebraska Symposium on Motivation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Bartel, N.R. 1971 Locus of control and achievement in middle- and lower-class children. Child Development 42: 1099- 1 107.

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