Chapter 4: The Self

“Dancing Matt Harding” Dances Around the World

Matthew “Matt” Harding (born September 27, 1976) is an American video game developer who became an Internet celebrity as a result of his viral videos that show him dancing in front of landmarks and street scenes in cities around the world.

Matt began his career working for a video game store and as an editor for a video game magazine. He then became a video game software developer but eventually became frustrated with the work of creating video games. He quit his job and began traveling.

While he was traveling in Vietnam, he had his traveling companion video him as he danced in a city. The video was uploaded to YouTube. Matt then made a second video, a sequence of 15 dance scenes in other countries, each accompanied by background music. This video eventually became viral, getting over 20,000 hits a day as it was discovered around the world.

Harding released his third dancing video, the result of 14 months of traveling in 42 countries, on June 20, 2008.

(click to see video)

Watch Matt dance.

At the foundation of all human behavior is the selfour sense of personal identity and of who we are as individuals. Because an understanding of the self is so important, it has been studied for many years by psychologists (James, 1890; Mead, 1934) and is still one of the most important and most researched topics in social psychology (Dweck & Grant, 2008; Taylor & Sherman, 2008). Social psychologists conceptualize the self using the basic principles of social psychology—that is, the relationship between individual persons and the people around them (the person-situation interaction) and the ABCs of social psychology—the affective, behavioral, and cognitive components of the self.

In this chapter, we will first consider the cognitive aspects of the self, focusing on the self-concept (the thoughts that we hold about ourselves) and self-awareness (the extent to which we are currently fixing our attention on our own self-concept). Then we will move on to the role of affect, considering self-esteem (the positive or negative feelings that we have about ourselves) and the many ways that we try to gain positive self-esteem. Finally, we will consider the social aspects of the self, including how we present ourselves to others in order to portray a positive self-image, as well as the many ways that our thoughts and feelings about ourselves are determined by our relationships with others.


Dweck, C. S., & Grant, H. (2008). Self-theories, goals, and meaning. In J. Y. Shah, W. L. Gardner, J. Y. E. Shah, & W. L. E. Gardner (Eds.), Handbook of motivation science (pp. 405–416). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. New York, NY: Dover.

Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Taylor, S. E., & Sherman, D. K. (2008). Self-enhancement and self-affirmation: The consequences of positive self-thoughts for motivation and health. In J. Y. Shah, W. L. Gardner, J. Y. E. Shah, & W. L. E. Gardner (Eds.), Handbook of motivation science (pp. 57–70). New York, NY: Guilford Press.


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