Here's another ASWB exam content outline item worth a look: Factors influencing self-image (e.g., culture, race, religion/spirituality, age, disability, trauma). The e.g. is helpful here because otherwise just about everything is a factor that influences self-image. Let's dig in and then look at how this material may appear on the social work licensing exam.

The Factors

Self-image, also referred to as self-concept or self-perception, is a multidimensional construct that encompasses various aspects of an individual's identity. A wide variety of factors can significantly influence a person's self-image, shaping how they perceive themselves and their place in the world. Among them:

  • Culture:

    • Cultural Norms: Cultural values, beliefs, and norms are crucial. People tend to internalize societal expectations regarding appearance, behavior, and success.
    • Cultural Identity: Connection to--or distance from--cultural heritage, including ideals of family, beauty, success, and day-to-day behavior, often impacts self-perception. 
  • Race and Ethnicity:

    • Racial Identity: Experiences related to race, including societal attitudes and stereotypes, can influence self-image. Individuals may develop a racial identity that impacts how they see themselves and how they believe others see them.
  • Religion/Spirituality:

    • Religious Beliefs: Religious teachings can shape moral values, guiding principles, and a sense of purpose. These factors contribute to the formation of self-identity.
    • Spiritual Experiences: Personal experiences with spirituality can influence perceptions of self-worth and purpose.
  • Age:

    • Developmental Stage: Self-image evolves across the lifespan. Children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly may have different self-perceptions influenced by their developmental stage and life experiences.
    • Age-Related Changes: Physical changes associated with aging often impact body image and self-esteem.
  • Disability:

    • Physical and Mental Health: Disabilities, whether visible or invisible, can affect self-image. Society's perceptions of disabilities may also contribute to how individuals view themselves.
  • Trauma:

    • Past Experiences: Traumatic events, such as abuse or significant losses, often impact self-image. Trauma may lead to negative self-perceptions, trust issues, or feelings of worthlessness. Some individuals may experience post-traumatic growth, finding strength and resilience in the face of adversity.
  • Gender and Sexual Orientation:

    • Gender Roles: Societal expectations related to gender roles can influence self-image. Conformity or non-conformity to gender norms can greatly impact one's sense of self.
    • Sexual Orientation: Societal attitudes toward diverse sexual orientations can be a large factor in self-image.
  • Socioeconomic Status:

    • Financial Well-being: Socioeconomic status tends to influence self-perception in terms of social standing and opportunity.
  • Media and Social Influences:

    • Media Representations: Media portrayals of beauty, success, and social norms tend to take an outsized role in shaping self-image, especially among young people.
    • Peer and Social Comparisons: Comparisons with others, both in real life and through social media, can impact self-esteem and body image.
  • Education and Work:

    • Educational Attainment: Level of education achieved can influence self-perceptions of competence and intelligence.
    • Occupational Identity: The nature of one's work and career achievements can also contribute to self-image.

Of course, the impact of these factors (and others) can vary widely from person to person. Understanding the interplay of these factors is key for helping promote positive self-image and fostering a more inclusive and supportive society (aka doing social work!). 

On the Social Work Exam

How might this look on the social work licensing exam? 

  • When working with clients with disabilities, what should a social worker consider regarding the impact of disability on self-image?

  • In assessing the self-image of an elderly client, what factors should a social worker consider related to age?

  • A client tells a social worker, "I feel so ugly." How should the social worker proceed?

You get the idea.

To get practicing with questions (and answers! and rationales!) covering the whole range of ASWB exam topics, get started with Social Work Test Prep's full-length practice tests.

Take Me There Now.

December 4, 2023
Categories :