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Looking-Glass Self

Definition

The looking-glass self is the process by which people evaluate themselves based on how others see them. According to this theory, people first imagine how they appear to others. Second, they imagine how others judge them based on that appearance. Third, people have an emotional reaction to that imagined judgment, such as pride or embarrassment. This selfevaluation influences the person's sense of self-worth or self-esteem. In short, the looking-glass self theory suggests that we come to know ourselves by reflecting on how others see us.

History and Modern Usage

The looking-glass self was first proposed by Charles Horton Cooley. According to Cooley, self-perceptions are based on reflected appraisals of how others see us (i.e., our impression of others' impressions of us), which are in turn based on ...

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