Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section: Content Category 8A

The self refers to the thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves. Our notion of self is complex and multifaceted. It includes gender, racial, and ethnic identities, as well as beliefs about our ability to accomplish tasks and exert control over different situations.

Our notion of self develops over time and is shaped by a variety of factors, including society, culture, individuals and groups, and our unique experiences. How we view ourselves influences our perceptions of others, and by extension, our interactions with them.

The content in this category covers the notions of self-concept and identity, along with the role of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and locus of control in the development of self-concept. Identity formation, including developmental stages and the social factors that affect identity formation, is also covered here. Theories are included to provide historical context for the field of identity formation.

Topic Level Key:

The abbreviations found in parentheses indicate the course(s) in which undergraduate students at many colleges and universities learn about the topics and associated subtopics. The course abbreviations are:
PSY: one semester of introductory psychology 
SOC: one semester of introductory sociology 

Please note topics that appear on multiple content lists will be treated differently. Questions will focus on the topics as they are described in the narrative for the content category.

Self-Concept, Self-identity, and Social Identity (PSY, SOC)

  • The role of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and locus of control in self-concept and self-identity (PSY)
  • Different types of identities (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, class

Formation of Identity (PSY, SOC)

  • Theories of identity development (e.g., gender, moral, psychosexual, social)
  • Influence of social factors on identity formation
    • Influence of individuals (e.g., imitation, looking-glass self, role-taking)
    • Influence of groups (e.g., reference group)
  • Influence of culture and socialization on identity formation

To support your studies, see the following video tutorials below from the Khan Academy MCAT Collection. The videos and associated questions were created by the Khan Academy in collaboration with the AAMC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.