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Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Ginette Blackhart

Committee Members

Diana Morelen, Alyson Chroust, Jon Ellis


Self-perceptions are rooted in our relationships, interactions, and comparisons with others. The relational influences that impact self-perceptions may range from family members and friends to celebrities or characters in books, all of whom differ in terms of relational and psychological distance, such that some are more proximal (e.g., friends and family) while others are more distal (e.g., celebrities or characters in a book). Self-perceptions are meaningful given the bulk of research indicating that low self-perceptions are related to numerous clinical problems, especially in young people. Yet, researchers have yet to study the junction between late adolescents’ evaluations of the self in relation to proximal and distal influences. This dissertation begins by defining the constructs of the self and self-perception. The manner in which relational influences and a healthy sense of self develop are discussed within psychodynamic and social-psychological frameworks. A study is then presented that examines the relationships between individuals’ self-perception within different domains and with whom they identify in those domains. Late adolescents were asked about their self-perceptions across nine domains of perceived competency and then asked about with whom they relate, both positively (someone good) and negatively (someone bad), in each of those domains. Results demonstrated that higher levels of self-perception in three domains (job, social, and friends) increased the odds of identifying a proximal influence when asked about negative relational influences. Proximal influences (people close in relationships) were more prevalent than distal objects across all domains for a majority of the sample. However, high self-perception did increase the likelihood within these three domains. Gathering information regarding relational influences while also measuring self-perceptions contributes to understanding the construct of the self and the theoretical orientations presented. Current results may also inform clinical interventions aimed at strengthening self-concept in youth.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.