Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory, and Practice

By Owen Hargie; David Dickson | Go to book overview
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Chapter 9

Self-disclosure

INTRODUCTION
THE TERM SELF-DISCLOSURE is an amalgam of two elements. First, there is the intriguing entity of the 'self', and what exactly this comprises. Second, there is the process of 'disclosure' whereby the individual opens up some aspect of self to others. In this chapter we will examine both of these concepts, but with the main focus on the latter. However, before exploring the fascinating world of how, what, when and why people disclose information about themselves, let us begin by examining the notion of self.Investigations of the self are as old as social science. Well over 100 years ago the psychologist James (1890, 1892), in attempting to map the terrain, made a distinction between two types of self:
1 The 'I' self, which he saw as a knowing self in that it generates all of the knowledge we have of ourselves;
2 The 'me' self, which he viewed as being composed of three dimensions:
a material self, relating to our evaluations of our physical bodies and possessions (home, car, etc.);
a social self, concerned with how we see ourselves relating to and with others;
a spiritual self, which comprises our ideas, thoughts, values and beliefs.

More recently, the concept of self has attracted an enormous

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