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looking-glass self

looking-glass self Charles Cooley's theory of the self highlighted the ways in which an individual's sense of self is derived from the perceptions of others. Just like the reflections in a mirror, the self depends on the perceived responses of others; or, as he himself puts it, ‘each to each a looking glass | Reflects the other that doth pass.’

The looking-glass self has three components: the imagination of our appearance to the other person; the imagination of their judgement of that appearance; and self feelings, such as pride. In Cooley's work, the self is solipsistic, where society essentially comprises ‘imagining imaginations’.

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