Evolution of Self-Awareness and the Cultural Emergence of Academic and Non- Academic Self-Concepts

David C. Geary*, M. Xu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Schooling is ubiquitous in the modern world and academic development is now a critical aspect of preparation for adulthood. A step back in time to pre-modern societies and an examination of life in remaining traditional societies today reveals that universal formal schooling is an historically recent phenomenon. This evolutionary and historical recency has profound implications for understanding academic development, including how instructional practices modify evolved or biological primary abilities (e.g., spoken language) to create evolutionarily novel or biologically secondary academic competencies (e.g., reading). We propose the development of secondary abilities promotes the emergence of academic self-concepts that in turn are supported by evolved systems for self-awareness and self-knowledge. Unlike some forms of self-knowledge (e.g., relative physical abilities) that appear to be universal and central to many people’s overall self-concept, the relative importance of academic self-concepts are expected to be dependent on explicit social and cultural supports for their valuation. These culturally contingent self-concepts are contrasted with universal social and physical self-concepts, with implications for understanding variation students’ relative valuation of academic competencies and their motivations to engage in academic learning.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Early online date21 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Academic self-concept
  • Achievement
  • BRAIN
  • CHIMPANZEES
  • CONFORMITY
  • EPISODIC MEMORY
  • ESTEEM
  • Evolution
  • MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT
  • MENTAL TIME-TRAVEL
  • MODEL
  • PRINCIPLES
  • RECOGNITION
  • Secondary learning
  • Self-awareness

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