PhD defence L.W.P. (Renske) van der Cruijsen

Exploring Me in a World of We; A multidimensional perspective on self-concept development in adolescence
Prof.dr. E.A.M. Crone
Dr. S. Peters
Friday 25 Feb 2022, 13:00 - 14:30
PhD defence
Senate Hall
Erasmus Building
Campus Woudestein
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On 25 February 2022, L.W.P. van der Cruijsen will defend her PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Exploring Me in a World of We; A multidimensional perspective on self-concept development in adolescence’.

Adolescents are sometimes described as being egocentric or (too) self-focused, which is not surprising since this is an important phase in which young people need to get to know themselves. In my dissertation I investigated how adolescents think about themselves: their self-concept. I did this by asking adolescents to indicate to what extent certain character traits in different domains (academic, “I am smart”; physical appearance, “I am attractive”; prosocial, “I’m helpful to others”) fit them while they lay in an MRI scanner. This way, I could not only measure how positive adolescents were about themselves, but I could also see which brain regions are involved in thinking about the self.

In my studies, I followed 160 adolescents between 10 and 24 years old for three years to see how their self-concept changed with age. Additionally, I studied self-concept in a group of 40 boys diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, aged 12-16 years.

The studies in my dissertation showed that ‘self’ and ‘other’ are strongly intertwined. How we think about ourselves largely resembles how we think others may evaluate us, and brain activation underlying these considerations largely overlaps. Additionally, this dissertation shows that self-concept is temporarily less positive in mid-adolescence (around age 15-17). This is especially the case for academic self-concept. Last, adolescents with autism or with more reported autism-characteristics are relatively vulnerable to develop lower self-esteem (general feeling of self-worth), and more negative self-concept in the physical appearance and prosocial domains.

The PhD defences will not take place publicly in the usual way. A live stream link has been provided to candidate. The ceremony will begin exactly at 13.00.

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