Stability and change in self-understanding: The early elementary school years

Leonard S. Newman, Diane N. Ruble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Around the time children enter elementary school, trait constructs suddenly begin to play a major role in their conceptions of people. One of these people is the self. It is hypothesized that this period is a crucial one, as children at this time should be actively creating a stable self-concept. Research supporting this position is reviewed. At 7–8 years of age stable dispositions are more likely to appear in children's spontaneous self-descriptions, and they are considered to be particularly important aspects of the self. Experimental work suggests that manipulations meant to affect self-conceptualization are more likely to be effective during this period. Theories suggesting how the child might acquire information about the self at this age are also reviewed. It is concluded that during the early elementary school years children are especially receptive to information about their psychological and behavioral attributes and vulnerable to manipulations that affect self-understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-99
Number of pages23
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Attribution
  • Person-perception
  • Prophecy
  • Self-concept
  • Self-fulfilling
  • Social Cognition
  • Traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics


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