Sample Research Paper on Psychology: How to Improve Self-Perception

Research PaperPsychology

research paper is a type of written coursework commonly assigned to college and post-graduate students. The main purpose of this assignment is to present, explain, and defend a thesis or claim using information from reputable academic sources acquired through sound research methods. The sample below presents a discussion of ways to improve self-perception.

Self-perception is a crucial part of knowing oneself. Moreover, self-perception has real effects on people’s behavior. How people perceive themselves influences how they study, work, and interact with individuals and groups in various settings. Self-perception, however, is not always accurate, and this is a particularly important issue today given the proliferation of socializing factors that have been identified as having negative effects on mental health. An example of these factors is social media. In particular, increased participation in social media platforms has contributed to distortions in self-perception in many, especially among younger users, resulting in higher rates of low self-esteem, body image disturbance, anxiety, and depression (Haynes, 2018; Waters, 2021; Marks et al., 2020). The existence and extent of this issue signal the need for ways to improve self-perception. While some cases of distorted self-perception may require the help of professionals, many can implement relatively simple strategies as outlined in this paper.

Self-Perception Explained

Before learning ways to improve self-perception, the concept of self-perception should be first understood. The American Psychological Association [APA] defines self-perception as “a person’s view of his or her self or of any of the mental or physical attributes that constitute the self. Such a view may involve genuine self-knowledge or varying degrees of distortion” (2020a). Self-perception can be further understood by looking at self-concept, which the APA defines as “one’s description and evaluation of oneself, including psychological and physical characteristics, qualities, skills, roles, and so forth. Self-concepts contribute to the individual’s sense of identity over time” (2020b). To simplify, self-perception is about how a person views itself including overall character, personal traits, abilities including talents, strengths, and skills, and limitations including weaknesses. Self-perception, however, is subjective and vulnerable to distortion. Distortion happens when a person’s self-perception does not represent reality. For instance, someone may believe that they are not skilled enough for a job when in reality they are more than competent. As the Johari Window exemplifies, someone may have attributes that they are not aware they possess. In the same way, some attributes are only known to the person who possesses them and is hidden from the public (Luft and Ingham, 1955; Robertson, 2009).

Improving Self-Perception

The degree to which self-perception gets distorted varies, and some cases may be serious enough to require professional intervention. But for those who see no reason to seek professional help and simply want to improve their self-perception, there are simple and accessible ways that can be followed. These ways are wide-ranging and cover strategies intended to promote mental, physical, emotional, and social health.

Challenge Negative Beliefs Using Reason and Evidence

Self-perception can be improved by challenging negative beliefs. One of the most common forms of distorted self-perception is the lack of confidence in one’s own abilities. For example, many people believe that they are not that smart or skilled and this results in low self-esteem and lack of confidence. A person can challenge these negative beliefs by looking at the evidence that exists. For instance, they can look at their past accomplishments, positive traits that people consistently identify or compliment, and challenges they overcame. Recognizing that these are real aspects of one’s personality and experience can help people give themselves more credit and thereby enhance self-perception. In a way, this process is grounded on reasoning rather than mere intuition. By examining negative beliefs and refuting them with logic and evidence, a person will be able to have more positive thoughts regarding self-perception.

Avoid Comparison With Others

Comparing oneself with others is one of the causes of distortions in self-perception, especially at a time when social media has become a ubiquitous service in most societies. For example, studies show that people who stay longer on social media eventually come to assume that everyone around them are more beautiful, affluent, popular, successful, and happier, which in turn leads to low self-esteem and self-worth (Berezan et al., 2018; Chae, 2018). Young people in particular are more vulnerable to these effects. However, it should be noted that social media is not representative of reality. In fact, social media accounts are often filtered and curated, with users sharing mostly positive aspects of their lives (Marks et al., 2020; Jan et al., 2017). Taking time off from social media, avoiding comparing oneself with others based on skewed information, and remembering that people have different paces in life can benefit overall self-perception.

Build Positive Relationships

Another way to improve self-perception is by building positive relationships. Studies show that self-perception is significantly influenced by the opinions of friends and family. Moreover, researchers have determined that there is a correlation between the quality of relationships and self-perception (Narr et al., 2017). In particular, people who consider their relationships toxic or abusive tend to experience low self-esteem, lack of confidence, anxiety, and depression. By contrast, people who see their relationships as happy, enriching, and fulfilling tend to be more satisfied with who they are and how they see themselves (Alegre and Benson, 2019). The findings of these studies confirm that high-quality relationships aid in enhancing self-perception. Relationships characterized by mutual respect, affection, and mutual desire for betterment are indeed more likely to make people comfortable with who they are. On the other hand, relationships where parties are belittled, manipulated, unfairly criticized, and abused can lead to the development of negative self-perception. Of course, crucial to establishing positive relationships is drawing boundaries that lessen the likelihood of abuse in the first place.

Pursuing Creativity and Productivity

Pursuing creativity and productivity is also an excellent way to improve self-perception. Humans love accomplishing things by nature. People feel better when they successfully carry out tasks or create something. As Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model asserts, fulfillment in optimizing potential is an essential element of self-actualization (Taormina and Gao, 2013). While self-actualization may take years to achieve, improving self-perception may benefit from small steps that promote personal creativity and productivity. Studies show that creative and productive pursuits are associated with a more positive view of oneself, and researchers believe that this is fueled by the satisfaction brought by meeting intrinsic motivations (Martin-Albo et al., 2012). On the individual level, people can improve their self-perception by engaging in activities that give them a sense of happiness and fulfillment. For example, acquiring habits such as drawing, painting, or cooking among others can be a good start. One need not be an expert or earn from such pursuits; rather, it is the satisfaction of being able to perform activities that give pleasure that helps improve self-perception.

Establish Realistic Challenges

As mentioned earlier, many people tend to underestimate their abilities, which in turn contributes to distortions in self-perception. This comes in different forms, from thinking that one is not smart enough to assume that one will never achieve progress. But like any other journey towards self-improvement, enhancing self-perception cannot be done overnight or in one giant leap. Rather, improvement is made up of small steps forward and minute changes that add up to a big transformation. Based on this, it makes sense to individually tackle realistic challenges designed to progressively enhance a person’s competencies instead of trying hard to facilitate the big change in a single move.

Promote Physical Health

Finally, self-perception can also be enhanced by engaging in activities that promote physical health. These activities are broad-ranging but generally include eating a balanced nutritious diet, limiting alcohol intake, and performing regular exercise. Studies consistently show that people who actively seek health by following a healthy lifestyle are more likely to feel better about themselves than those who lead lifestyles conventionally considered as less healthy (Basoviciene et al., 2019). The findings support conventional knowledge that actively pursuing health leads to developing a sense of overall wellness. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.


As discussed in this paper, many people have distortions of self-perception. It can range from something as simple as lacking in confidence to something that merits professional help. There are ways to enhance self-perception and these include challenging negative thoughts, avoiding comparisons with others, and building positive relationships. Furthermore, engaging in creative and productive endeavors, challenging oneself, and leading a healthy lifestyle have also been shown to benefit self-perception. Improving self-perception, of course, is not the only way to achieve holistic wellness. It is important to bear in mind that enhancing self-perception is part of the overall approach to managing mental health as well as overall wellness.

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American Psychological Association. (2020b). Self-concept. APA.

Baceviciene, M., Jankauskiene, R., and Emeljanovas, A. (2019). Self-perception of physical activity and fitness is related to lower psychosomatic health symptoms in adolescents with unhealthy lifestyles. BMC Public Health, 980.

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Marks, R. J., De Foe, A., and Collett, J. (2020). The pursuit of wellness: Social media, body image and eating disorders. Children and Youth Services Review, 119 .

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Narr, R. K., Allen, J. P., Tan, J. S., and Loeb, E. L. (2017). Close friendship strength and broader peer group desirability as differential predictors of adult mental health. Child Development , 90(1), 298-313.

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Taormina, R. J. and Gao, J. H. (2013). Maslow and motivation hierarchy: Measuring satisfaction of the needs. The American Journal of Psychology, 126 (2), 155-177.

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