30 April 2013
An Evolutionary Path of The Self
In human history, humans developed bipedal locomotion so that they could reach food and travel longer distances to acquire widely dispersed resources. The evolution of bipedalism was one of first events that led hominids down the path to being human. This evolutionary adaptation makes it easier for humans to navigate their surroundings. Besides physiological evolution, humans also have their psychological evolutionary adaptations to daily life. The development of self is one of the most important evolutionary adaptations to happen to humans.
The concept of self is very essential to psychology. Understanding the concept of self together with its various aspects plays great importance and contribution in understanding human functioning both in the field of psychology and in other field of sciences as well. In order, to thoroughly understand the self concept, it is indeed necessary to trace back the evolutionary perspective of self especially that experts have conceptualized self as an evolutionary adaptation (Skowronski, pp. 1-2).
The field of psychology has been pursuing its venture in understanding the real essence of self and on its impact on getting along with others and dealing with social conditions and problems. In this paper, the evolution of self adaptation is tackled. Moreover, the changes caused by evolution and how it has impacted on how self deals with the modern social problems as compared to the past situations will also be dealt with. The difference on the problems faced by the human self in the modern society will also be examined as it is compared to the problems met by the human ancestors in the early years.
One basic element of the self seems to have evolutionary significance as always emphasized by Sedukides & Skowronski (pp. 1-2). The development of self, such as self-esteem, self-awareness and self-monitoring seems like a safe bet for human survival along with the development of human society. Sedikides and Skowronski (pp. 2-3) have emphasized further, the two concepts of self as subjective and objectified self. Subjective concept as defined by Sedikides and Skowronski (p. 92) pertains to the actualization of the individual being a different and special organism as compared to other creation living in the environment. Further, this actualization gives emphasis on the mechanisms developed by the self in order to cope with the stimulus present in the environment.
On the other hand, the objectified self, pertains to knowing one`s self. This is more on the cognitive development of the individual and on self- awareness in which it is only developed among few forms of organisms like the primates. However, the cognitive functioning are well-developed among human beings, hence making the human self capable of making wise decisions, being able to think and solve problems.
Carver (pp.52-53) on the other hand, cited the importance of self -awareness as an important tool in conforming to the standards set by the society and by the majority in the group. Moreover, Carver also stresses that the contribution of self-awareness on the development of behavior or attitude necessary for a certain situations.
The social aspect of self defines the most essential qualities which make any individual distinct from group members. These qualities are defined differently depending on various aspects like culture. The self provides a sense of unity to the disparate thoughts, feelings and actions a person experiences over time and across situations. These psychological adaptations enables the self to be capable of developing emotions, feelings and behaviors which are other essential factors in coping with the changing environment and challenging conditions in the surroundings and in dealing with other individuals.
On the issue of how well does self satisfy the modern social life, it can be answered on the various changes and development that have taken place on self as an evolutionary process. The development of the different aspects of an individual namely social, emotional, spiritual and the cognitive make an individual better and more capable in dealing with the challenging situations in the environment. Tangney and Leary (pp. 1-2) stressed that through time, human being was able to discover several important factors making up the self such as self-awareness, self-esteem, self-control, identity, self verification, self-affirmation, self-conscious, and self-evaluation and many more. These factors give rise to more adaptable self ready to venture the challenges of life and of the modern society. Moreover, these factors give more opportunity for self to discover better ways in coping with more demanding situations.
On the other hand, experience and past accounts make self more better in coping and dealing modern way of living. Kelley and Jacoby (pp. 2-4) discussed the importance of “knowing one`s self” in the development of self. Furthermore, they gave emphasis on the importance of the experiences and past knowledge of one`s past which gives opportunity on the abstraction and development of roles and traits and emotional expressions. Development of such can be an important tool in dealing with others, and in getting along with the changing environment. In addition to these, Kelley and Jacoby (p. 5) stressed that the past self is being constructed and reconstructed by the previous experiences making it more capable in dealing with the modern life.
2. The problems we face today, not faced by our distant ancestors, that we are ill equipped to cope with given the self we have inherited?
Indeed there is great difference on the problems that the human self is facing today as compared to the problems and situations faced by our great ancestors in the past. Basically, in the early times, human self is only focused on dealing and achieving the basic needs for survival. By simply developing the physiological aspects they can easily achieved these needs. However, this need and problems of the human self has changed. Problems and needs of the human self become more complex as time passed.. Nowadays, the human self is now challenged with various issues which include morality, economic issues, environmental, health and many others (Dogra, p.1).
* Morality Issues – Speaking of morality, it is indeed a great challenge for the self to conform to the standards set by the society. In this modern time, individuals are faced with the challenges of vices such as alcoholism, drugs, and violence brought about by the proliferation of media influences.
* Economic Issues – unlike before wherein our ancestors will simply wander around just to get food from the environment, today, the human self is faced with more complicated way of living and this is more affected by the economic issues, hence the individual self has to venture and assume more complex rules.
* Environmental – With the passing of time and with the evolution of self, the environment have changed enormously. This changed pose a great threat on self in terms of coping with the environmental problems particularly the global warming.
* Heath issues – this has been caused by the development and progress achieved in the field of psychology and other sciences through the full discovery and development of self. With the experimentation and exploration of human self, health issues have become a threat, particularly on the spread of contagious disease like AIDS.
There are still many other problems and issues that the human self is facing today.Accordingly, there is great difference on the problems today as compared to what have been experienced by the self of the human ancestors. However, if the self-actualization is being achieved by the self, then this will be easier for the self to deal with. Furthermore, the evolutionary processes undergone by the human self in all aspects have prepared it to deal and solve problems in the modern society.
Carver, C. (1997). Self- Awareness. Journal of Personality. (pp. 50-69). Vol. 45. Issue 4.
Kelley, C. and Jacoby, L. Past Selves and Autobiographical Memory. (pp. 293-308).
Leary M. & Tangney, J. (2012). The Self as an Organizing Construct in the Behavioral and social Sciences. Handbook of Self and Identity. (pp 1-8). New York: Guilford Publications Inc.
Sedikides, C., & Skowronski, J. J. (2000). On the evolutionary functions of the symbolic self: The emergence of self-evaluation motives. In A. Tesser, R. B. Felson, & J. M. Suls (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on self and identity (pp. 91-117). Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.
30 April 2013
30 April 2013