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«Structure of the Personal Self-Concept (PSC) Questionnaire1 Eider Goñi2, José M. Madariaga, Inge Axpe, and Alfredo Goñi (Universidad del País ...»

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CASARES-LÓPEZ et al. Sixthand Healthof the Addiction Severity Index

© International Journal of Clinical version Psychology ISSN 1697-2600 print

ISSN 2174-0852 online

2011, Vol. 11, Nº 3, pp. 509-522

Structure of the Personal Self-Concept (PSC)


Eider Goñi2, José M. Madariaga, Inge Axpe, and Alfredo Goñi

(Universidad del País Vasco, Spain)

ABSTRACT. The aim of this instrumental study is to determine whether the empirical

data confirm the structure of the Personal Self-Concept (PSC) Questionnaire, made up of four scales: Self-fulfillment, Autonomy, Honesty and Emotional self-concept. The inclusion of these scales is justified according to the conceptual review of the personal development, as well as the review of the instruments, which partially measures this domain of the self-concept. A total of 1,135 people completed the questionnaire; 559 randomly selected responses of people between 15 and 65 years old were used for a confirmatory factorial analysis. Of the three models assessed (unidimensional, four interrelated factors and four factors and one second-order factor), the four-dimensional one has the best goodness of fit, though the second-order factor model hasn’t that bad fit index. Finally, the practical implications of the identification of specific dimensions of self-concept are discussed, and new research questions are posed in light of the results obtained.

KEYWORDS. Personal self-concept. Conceptual model. Factorial structure. Instrumental study.

RESUMEN. El objetivo de este estudio instrumental es verificar si los datos empíricos confirman la estructura del Cuestionario de Autoconcepto Personal (APE) constituido por cuatro escalas: Autorrealización, Autonomía, Honradez y Ajuste emocional. La inclusión de estas escalas se justifica a través de la revisión conceptual del desarrollo Study carried out within the framework of the EDU2009-20102 research project, subsidized by the MICIN.

Corresponding author: Departamento de Psicología Evolutiva y de la Educación. Universidad del

País Vasco. Juan Ibáñez de Santo Domingo, s/n. 01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain). E-mail:

eider.goni@ehu.es Int J Clin Health Psychol, Vol. 11. Nº 3 510 GOÑI et al. Personal Self-Concept Questionnaire personal, así como de la revisión de instrumentos que evalúan en parte el dominio del autoconcepto. Responden al cuestionario un total de 1135 personas de entre 15 y 65 años, siendo utilizadas las respuestas de 559, seleccionadas aleatoriamente, para un análisis factorial confirmatorio. Entre los tres modelos evaluados (el unidimensional, el de cuatro factores interrelacionados, y el de cuatro factores y uno de segundo orden), el tetradimensional mostró el mejor ajuste a los datos, aunque el modelo factorial de segundo orden tampoco muestra mal ajuste. Se discuten, por último, las implicaciones prácticas de la identificación de dimensiones concretas del autoconcepto y se plantean nuevos interrogantes de investigación a partir de los resultados obtenidos.

PALABRAS CLAVE. Autoconcepto personal. Modelo conceptual. Estructura factorial.

Estudio instrumental.

The study of self-concept has interested psychologists since its very beginnings as a scientific discipline, and continues to arouse interest today. It is obvious that selfconcept includes references to how one sees oneself, not only physically and from an academic/professional and social perspective, but also within the most private and personal spheres of life. It is not possible to answer the question «who am I?» without considering one’s self-perception as a singular individual, independent from the physical self and social self, in aspects which have generally been studied under the label of ethical-moral self-concept, self-perception of the personal self or emotional self-concept.

Unlike in the exemplary case of physical self-concept (Goñi, 2008), here there is a distinct lack of models which aim to integrate the diverse components or dimensions of personal self-concept which may account fully and completely for this notion.

In order to justify the proposal of the conceptual model presented here, we must first chart the developments of past research into the dimensions which have traditionally been studied in relation to personal self-concept. Having done this, the paper then presents a four-dimensional questionnaire which was designed with the aim of adjusting to this structure (Ramos-Álvarez, Moreno-Fernández, Valdés-Conroy, and Catena, 2008).

One study that had a considerable impact was the review carried out by L’Ecuyer (1978) of the different notions of self-concept in psychological studies which featured the Personal self alongside four other structures: the Material self, the Adaptive self, the Social self and the Self-non self. The term Personal self-concept also appears in the different versions of the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale by Roid and Fitts (1991), which has been widely used in the Spanish language (Garanto, 1984). However, psychological research has focused mainly on two dimensions of personal self-perception: moral selfconcept and emotional self-concept (Goñi, 2009).

The fact that Ethical-moral self-concept is a basic constituent of self-concept seems to have been accepted with no apparent discussion. There are many questionnaires which offer moral self-concept indexes, albeit sometimes under different names, such as honesty or values self-concept: the Self-Concept Factor Scale by Tamayo (1981); the Self-Perception Profile for College Students by Neeman and Harter (1986); the Self Description Questionnaire III (Marsh, 1992); the Offer Self-Image Questionnaire Revised by Offer, Ostrov, Howard and Dolan (1992); and the Adult Source of Self-Concept Inventory by Man, Tam and Li (2003).

Int J Clin Health Psychol, Vol. 11. Nº 3 GOÑI et al. Personal Self-Concept Questionnaire For its part, in models such as the one proposed by Shavelson, Hubner and Stanton (1976), emotional self-concept is considered one of the four main domains of self-concept (alongside social, academic and physical). Emotional self-concept is understood as the subject’s perception of their emotional status and their responses to specific situations, with a certain degree of commitment and involvement in their everyday lives (García and Musitu, 2001). Under either this name, or that of affective self-concept, this dimension appears in questionnaires which measure affection (the Multidimensional Self-Concept Scale by Bracken, 1992), emotionality or emotional stability (the Escala Multidimensional de Autoconcepto by De La Rosa and Díaz, 1991; the Self-Description Questionnaire III by Marsh, 1992; the AF5 by García and Musitu, 2001) or emotional tone (the Offer Self-Image Questionnaire, by Offer et al., 1992). However, it has yet to be clarified what relationships exist between ethical and emotional self-concept, whether they contribute to configuring the same domain (i.e., personal) of self-concept and whether both dimensions are sufficiently able, alone, to explain self-perception within personal development. In this sense, it makes sense to return to the two following questions: 1) What are the basic dimensions of personal development?; and 2) How do people perceive themselves in each of these basic dimensions of personal development?

Personal development, in the broadest sense of the term, encompasses all those aspects related to the person, both individually and socially, including all the different aspects of human psychological development (Madariaga and Goñi, 2009). However, in a more restricted sense, the term personal, as opposed to social, refers to those more specific, individual or private aspects of this development. What are these aspects?

Psychological theories have been explaining individual psychological development for decades; and an overview of these theories (Goñi, 2000) would lead us to consider at least the four following dimensions: self-fulfillment, autonomy, honesty and emotional adjustment. Consequently, it is logical to assume that these four dimensions of personal development structure self-perception, or in other words, that personal self-concept consists of the following four components: affective-emotional self-concept (how a person sees themselves in relation to emotional adjustment or regulation); ethical/moral self-concept (the extent to which a person considers themselves to be honest and decent); self-concept of autonomy (the perception of the extent to which each person makes decisions about their life in accordance with their own criteria); and self-concept of self-fulfillment (how a person sees themselves in relation to achieving the aims and objectives of their life). The term personal self-concept is preferred over other labels (such as emotional self-concept or moral self-concept, etc.) since it is more comprehensive and includes all the others: the personal domain of self-concept refers, in short, to the way in which a person sees themselves as an individual. This theoretical model served as a reference for the design and development of the Personal Self-concept (PSC) Questionnaire, the first version of which consisted of 22 items, and the final version of 18 (see Table 1).

–  –  –

Note. SF: Self-fulfillment; AU: Autonomy; ESC: Emotional adjustment; HON: Honesty. ªItems eliminated from the definitive version of the questionnaire.

Based on the conceptualization outlined above, and bearing in mind the questionnaires cited previously, an initial group of 38 items was established. Next, using a table of specifications, a group of experts selected the 22 items which, in their opinion, best represented the four dimensions, in order to guarantee the validity of the questionnaire’s content (Verdugo, Arias, Gómez, and Schalock, 2010).

Two studies were carried out using this experimental questionnaire. When administered to 506 subjects aged between 12 and 36 (Goñi and Fernández, 2007), the questionnaire was found to have a Cronbach’s alpha reliability index of.85, as well as an acceptable four-factor solution in the exploratory analysis which explained 52.56% of the variance. However, four items (numbers 2, 13, 16 and 22) failed to reach the required saturation level in their established factor. In the second study (Goñi, 2009), the same analyses were carried out with a broader sample group (1,135 people). Subjects were aged between 15 and 65 and were randomly divided into two sub-groups. Among the analyses carried out with the first half of the group, the Cronbach’s alpha of the instrument was.83 and that of the scales was around the required.70 (Carretero-Dios and Pérez, 2007). The KMO index (.86) was adequate and Bartlett’s test of sphericity indicated that the relationship between scores was significant; consequently, an explanatory factorial analysis was performed using the oblique factorial rotation method, Int J Clin Health Psychol, Vol. 11. Nº 3 GOÑI et al. Personal Self-Concept Questionnaire given the existence of a certain relationship between the scales (Pardo and Ruiz, 2002).

The percentage of variance explained by the four hypothesized factors was 49.57%, although the communality of two of the items (num. 2 and 22) was lower than.30 and the saturation of three of them (numbers 13, 16 and 22) was lower than.40 or crossed in more than one factor. In all cases, responses to the PSC correlated with those given to questionnaires with similar objectives, specifically with the personal self scale which is included in the translated Spanish version of the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (Garanto, 1984; r =.18; p.001). Also, significant positive relationships were found

between personal self-concept and other variables theoretically related to the construct:

a) life satisfaction (r =.44; p.001), measured on the Satisfaction With Life Scale in the Spanish version translated by Atienza, Pons, Balaguer, and García-Merita (2000); and

b) psychological wellbeing (r =.71; p.001), measured on the Spanish version of Ryff’s Psychological Wellbeing Scale (Díaz et al., 2006).

This verified that the experimental PSC had appropriate psychometric characteristics, but that these four items failed to comply with the established requisites (Carretero-Dios and Pérez, 2005, 2007). They were therefore eliminated. One of them (number 2, which aimed to measure autonomy) included a comparative element with others, which may have prompted doubts in the respondents’ minds regarding the degree of autonomy perceived by others; in the case of items 13 and 16 (measuring honesty) and item 22 (measuring emotions), their elimination resulted in a higher level of reliability for both scales and a greater discriminatory capacity. Therefore, the reading of this measurement errors is based on the item and the construct characteristics (Herrero, 2010).

What remained to be determined, however, was whether this version of the PSC, consisting of 18 items, could be accepted as definitive and representative of the fourdimensional model of personal self-concept. To this end, the confirmatory factorial analysis offers a precise method (cf., for example, Escartín, Rodríguez-Carballeira, GómezBenito, and Zapf, 2010; Frutos, Ruiz, and San Martin, 1998; Tomás and Oliver, 2004) for correcting the limitations of psychometric analyses carried out using exploratory techniques. Indeed, the aim of this instrumental study (Montero and León, 2007) is precisely to determine whether, using the appropriate confirmatory factorial analyses, the structure of the Personal Self-Concept (PSC) Questionnaire, consisting of the selffulfillment, autonomy, honesty and emotional adjustment scales, can be confirmed.

In order to analyze the dimensionality of the PSC, the following three models were compared. The first one (M1), which had four interrelated factors, assumed that the four hypothesized factors are different, although correlated; this approach supports the theory of the multidimensional nature of self-concept. The single-dimension model (M2) assumed the existence of a single component underlying all the items; this approach supports the more global and historical notions of self-concept. The third model (M3), consisting of four dimensions and a second-order (latent) factor, supports the theory that the four scales of the PSC not only measure respective independent dimensions, but that together, they configure a second-order factor which could be identified as the personal domain of self-concept.

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