Self-Concept Theories

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In the context of self-concept theories, bullying is observed to impact how a child views what one could do and what one expected from one’s self.  Aside from bullying, negative or unhealthy parent-child interactions could also affect the construction of one’s self concept.  The decrease in self-expectancy and self-efficacy could result to low performance in life in general.  Self-esteem is widely affected by bullying behavior and parenting styles.

According to Harlow and Roberts (2010), the impact of bullying on self-esteem can be perceived through self-concept theories such as Vroom’s (1964) expectancy theory and Bandura’s (1986) concept of self-efficacy.

The expectancy theory explains how a person decides to behave or acts in a certain manner or chooses a certain behavior over others, based on what they expect from that behavior. Thus, the motivation elements changes the cognitive processes.  In the context of the present study, the victims of bullying experience a decrease in their motivation to perform in school. In the same manner, when a parent fails to provide encouragement, support, and affection for the child, they would not have positive motivation in school and in life.  Their cognitive processes can be based on their experiences of bullying or harsh parenting style, wherein their sense of self-worth or value is decreased due to traumatic experiences (Chang, Schwartz, Dodge, & McBride-Chang, 2003).

On the other hand, Bandura’s (1986) self-efficacy theory is described as the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain way to achieve goals, as a person’s belief about their capabilities to produce the required performance. The person’s perception affects how one lives his or her life. Thus, when a person experiences bullying, it places this person in a position wherein one feels he or she can not control the circumstance, feeling helpless and worthless.  A child who has authoritarian or controlling parents can make them feel inadequate about their capabilities, causing them to under-perform in life (Cheng, et al., 2003).

Harlow and Roberts (2010) notes that feelings of lack of support, lessen impulse control, and lower work ethic occurred from bullying.  When one has low self-esteem, one can experience difficulty in making friends, take on a view that one will not succeed, and a sense of regret for having experienced bullying. Moreover, victims of bullying also experienced emotional vulnerability.


Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundation of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. New Jersey:Prentice- Hall.

Chang, L., Schwartz, Dodge, & McBride-Chang (2003). Harsh parenting in relation to child emotion regulation and aggression. Journal of Family Psychology 17(4), 598-606.

Harlow, K. & Roberts, R. (2010). An exploration of the relationship between social and psychological factors and being bullied. Children and Schools 32(1), 15.

Vroom, V. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: Jon Wiley & Sons.

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