The Construction of the Self : Developmental and Sociocultural Foundations book cover
2nd Edition

The Construction of the Self
Developmental and Sociocultural Foundations

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ISBN 9781462522729
Published July 16, 2015 by Guilford Press
440 Pages

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Book Description

An important work from a leading scholar, this book explores self-development from early childhood to adulthood. Susan Harter traces the normative stages that define the emergence of many self-processes, including self-esteem. She also addresses individual differences and societal influences on self-development. Presenting pioneering empirical research, Harter shows that increasingly mature features of the self have both benefits and liabilities for psychological adjustment. The book highlights the causes and consequences of different types of self-representations, including those that are unrealistically negative or positive.

New to This Edition
*Reflects more than a decade of conceptual, empirical, and methodological advances.
*Provides a broader sociocultural framework for understanding self-development.
*Chapters on emerging adulthood, self-esteem and physical appearance, self-processes in the classroom, motivation, cross-cultural issues, and the quest for authenticity.
*Expanded chapters on childhood, adolescence, and the self-conscious emotions.
*Increased attention to the liabilities of our contemporary preoccupation with the self.

Table of Contents

Foreword, William M. Bukowski
1. Introduction: A Contemporary Approach to Self-Development
2. Developmental Differences in Self-Representations during Childhood
3. Developmental Differences in Self-Representations during Adolescence
4. Self-Processes during Emerging Adulthood
5. The Inextricable Link between Perceived Physical Appearance and Self-Esteem
6. Self-Conscious Emotions
7. Self-Processes and Motivation in the Classroom
8. Cross-Cultural and Multicultural Considerations
9. Reconsidering the Self: In Search of Authenticity

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Susan Harter, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Denver. Her interests include self-esteem, the construction of multiple selves, false-self behavior, classroom motivation, emotional development, gender issues, and school violence. Her research has resulted in the construction of a lifespan battery of self-concept assessment instruments that are in widespread use in the United States and internationally. Dr. Harter is a recipient of the John Evans Professorship Award, the highest scholarly honor the University of Denver can bestow on a faculty member, as well as the University Lecturer of the Year Award.


"Like the prior edition, this volume provides the most comprehensive and forward-looking overview of scholarship and theory on the construction of the self. The second edition is a major step forward--much exciting new work has been done in this area in the last 10 years. Harter offers a masterful summary and critique of this work; even more important, she gives us strong and insightful guidance for the future. Everyone interested in the construction of the self should read this book. It is an outstanding resource for seasoned researchers as well as an essential guide for young scholars entering the field and launching their research careers."--Jacquelynne S. Eccles, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Education, University of California, Irvine

"In The Construction of the Self, Second Edition, Harter shows again why she has been the preeminent scholar in child and adolescent development for over four decades. Weaving together new theoretical insights with a far-ranging review of diverse research literatures, Harter provides a masterful look at the processes through which cognitive changes and personal experiences combine to influence self-views, which in turn underlie broader patterns of social and psychological development. Harter’s perspectives on adaptive and maladaptive trajectories of self-development provide an important framework for promoting self-views that buttress positive relationships and psychological well-being."--Mark R. Leary, PhD, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University

"Harter surveys the struggle for a sense of identity and worth that individuals face from youth to old age. She offers an in-depth description of how families and cultures shape our self-concepts, and how so many of these adopted identities hamper personal growth and connectedness. On topics from motivation to mindfulness, this second edition offers both solid wisdom and new insights. Harter is truly one of developmental psychology’s luminaries."--Richard M. Ryan, PhD, Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University; Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester

"I have relied on The Construction of the Self as a required foundational text for my Social and Personality Development course for more than a decade, through two editions. I have found it to be the most theoretically comprehensive text on how the self develops over time, while also offering powerful and insightful practical applications. Favorite concepts with which my students and I love to engage from the Harter text include conditional positive regard and self-esteem, true-self versus false-self behavior, authenticity of self, individualistic and collectivistic cultures, the cultural self, I-self and Me-self, the looking-glass self, the personal fable, scaffolding--and the list goes on. This is a comprehensive text that brings together the self, personality, the lifespan, and interesting and diverse ecological systems, in one 440-page treasure chest!"--Michelle R. Dunlap, PhD, Department of Human Development, Connecticut College
The development of the self is a complex—sometimes difficult to comprehend—process, not easily explained by simplistic models. This book has a sophistication, empirical grounding, and clinical savvy that make it an essential book for therapists interested in individual construction of the self.
--Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 3/8/2012ƒƒAs has been the case throughout most of Harter's distinguished career, the emphasis is on the developmental nature of self. This expands the book's importance to a broad audience, which includes parents. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.--Choice Reviews, 10/1/2012