Any theory of the self-concept must address itself to the "thorny problem of self-concept change (Rosenberg, 1979: 76)." That is, what are the conditions under which individuals will be willing or unwilling to change the way they think and feel about themselves? Here we explore the possibility that the psychological centrality (Rosenberg, 1979: 73-77) or relative phenomenological importance, of a self-conception is one factor that influences a person's willingness to consider changing that self-conception. Rosenberg (1979: 75-76) develops the problem of psychological centrality and self-concept change in terms of the apparently contradictory evidence generated by attempts to get people to change the way they think and feel about themselves. On the one hand, he notes, experimental social psychologists such as
Videbeck (1960), Haehr, et al. (1962), and Webster and Sobieszek (1974) (and I would add Alexander and colleagues, 1969; 1971; 1977; 1981) seem to have little difficulty getting subjects to change their self-conceptions in response to experimental treatments of one sort or another. On the other hand, Rosenberg points out, clinicians consistently report that self-concept change is one of the most difficult goals to achieve in therapy. Rosenberg (1979: 75) argues that the concept of "psychological centrality" is the key to understanding these contradictory findings surrounding the problem of self-concept change.
Staples, Clifford L.
"Psychological Centrality and Self-Concept Change,"
Great Plains Sociologist: Vol. 1:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/greatplainssociologist/vol1/iss1/3