What Is Interactional Self: Click to Unravel! 🤓💬

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Written By Muhammad Saad

I'm a psychologist dedicated to evidence-based research in psychology, covering diverse aspects of the field.

Hold up, Explores! Ever noticed how you act differently at home, school, or work? Well, meet your interactional self – the brain behind the scenes making you switch it up. Get ready for a wild ride into the why and how! 🚀💭

What Is Interactional Self

According to psychologist George Herbert Mead, the interactional self is a concept that refers to the idea that our sense of self is formed through our interactions with others. This means that our identities are not static, but rather are constantly evolving as we engage in social exchanges. Mead believed that our sense of self is made up of two parts: the “I” and the “me.” The “I” represents our spontaneous, creative, and impulsive side, while the “me” represents the societal roles and expectations that we internalize.

In other words, the interactional self is the version of ourselves that we present to others in order to maintain a smooth and harmonious working relationship. This may involve considering the actions, decisions, and philosophies of others, and adjusting our own behavior accordingly.

The self is not something that precedes interaction, rather it emerges through interaction as we define ourselves and are defined by others based on how we present ourselves and how others receive and respond to that presentation.
Erving Goffman

For example, you might be more outgoing and assertive in a professional setting, but more reserved and introspective in a social setting. This is because the norms and expectations of each group are different, and you adjust your behavior in order to fit in and be successful.

Practical Examples of the Interactional Self

So, how does the interactional self play out in real life? Here are a few examples:

Think about how you act differently around different people. For example, you might be more reserved around your boss, but more outgoing around your friends. This is an example of how your interactions with others shape your behavior and your sense of self.
Consider how social media affects your sense of self. When you post a photo or status update, you’re putting yourself out there for others to see and respond to. The feedback you receive can shape how you see yourself and how you interact with others in the future.
Think about how you feel when someone compliments you or criticizes you. The way you respond to these interactions can shape your self-esteem and self-concept.

Types Of Interactional Self

Presentational Self: Crafting Our Public Image

The presentational self refers to the persona we present to others in social situations. It is the image we want to project to the world and is often influenced by social norms, expectations, and cultural values. We may craft our presentational self to fit into a particular role, such as a professional, a parent, or a friend.

For example, a person may express their presentational self by dressing in a particular way, using specific language, or adopting certain mannerisms. This allows them to create a public image that is consistent with their desired identity.

Reflective Self: Exploring Our Inner World

The reflective self refers to our internal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It is the part of our identity that is not always visible to others, but it shapes how we see ourselves and how we interact with the world. The reflective self is often influenced by our personal experiences, values, and beliefs.

For example, a person may express their reflective self by engaging in self-reflection, journaling, or seeking feedback from others. This allows them to explore their inner world and gain a deeper understanding of who they are and what they want in life.

Relational Self: Building Connections with Others

The relational self refers to how we relate to others in social situations. It is the part of our identity that is shaped by our interactions with others and is influenced by factors such as trust, empathy, and communication. When we express our relational self, we are communicating our needs, wants, and values to others and building connections based on mutual understanding and respect.

For example, a person may express their relational self by actively listening to others, showing empathy, and seeking to understand their perspective. This allows them to build strong and meaningful relationships with others

How We Flex Our Interactional Self

A captivating photograph capturing the essence of expressing the Interactional Self. The subject, with a confident yet approachable demeanor, engages in a conversation with animated hand gestures. The background showcases vibrant artwork, symbolizing various forms of artistic expression. The lighting is warm, enhancing the mood of creativity and connectivity.

Physical – Alright, let’s kick things off with the physical side of expressing ourselves. Ever feel like you gotta do something just because it’s your duty or responsibility? Maybe you’re held accountable for it. And for some, it’s like they have no choice, just doing things ’cause they feel forced.

Verbal – Now, let’s chat about using words. It’s like the most common way we express ourselves. Even if you’re not a big talker, you’re probably still using words to share your thoughts and ideas.

Spiritual – Now, shifting gears to the spiritual self. When we talk about expressing our faith, it’s like a mindset switch. Your actions might seem a bit different compared to someone with different beliefs. Some people even do things that seem a bit odd because their faith tells them to.

Affective – Next up, we’ve got the emotional side of things. You know how some people are all about expressing their feelings, while others keep it locked up? Well, that’s what we’re talking about here. It’s a whole spectrum, from those who hold it all in to those who let their feelings guide their actions. And sometimes, you just spill your emotions when you think someone gets you.

Artistic – Finally, we’re diving into the artistic side. This is where you get to express yourself in cool, creative ways. Think music, artworks, and even inventions. It’s like putting your emotions and ideas out there in a way that’s totally unique. 🎨🎶💬

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