Chapter 4: Identity and Perception of Self

Ask yourself the following questions: “Who am I?” and “What defines me?” We may think these are easy questions to answer and that we have a good grasp on our identity and what comprises it. However, our identities are not inherent and fixed. Who we are and what defines us changes throughout our lives. In addition, the way we communicate with others and vice-versa creates, shapes, and reshapes our identity in significant ways. While some people may assert “This is just who I am” or “I was born this way,” our identities are actually formed through a variety of processes and interactions, and, as such, are dynamic and never fully complete. In this chapter, we will  learn about various types of identities, address the principles of identity, examine factors that shape our self-perception, explore the relationship between identity and communication, and discuss how to improve communication competence.

(Image: The Awkward Yeti, used according to license)


Essential Questions

  • How does self-perception and identity shape communication, and vice-versa?
  • Why is an understanding of identity and self-perception important for interpersonal communication competence?

Successful students will be able to:

  • explain three types of identities
  • recognize six principles of identity
  • describe how self-concept, self-esteem, and self-efficacy shape our self-perception
  • describe how family and media influence self-perception
  • explain how self-perception, identity and communication are interrelated
  • recognize how awareness of self-presentation, cultural context and self-fulfilling prophecy can help us build communication competence

  • Sections 4.1.0–4.1.2, 4.3.0-4.4.2, & 4.6.3: adapted from Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies; University of Minnesota; 2016; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Sections 4.2.1-4.2.5: adapted from The Open University; OpenLearn; CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
  • Sections 4.0, 4.2.6, 4.5.0-4.5.1, 4.6.1, & 4.6.2: Interpersonal Communication Abridged Textbook (I.C.A.T.); Central New Mexico Community College; 2019; CC BY NC SA 4.0 
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