Children's Theories of the Self


This article provides a theoretical review of the developmental origins of children’s “folk theories” about the nature of the self, linking theoretical developments in philosophy with empirical discoveries from develop- mental psychology. The article first reviews children’s views about the material nature of the self, outlining evidence that children naturally think about the self as distinct from the body. It then discusses children’s understanding of the persistence of the self over time and, finally, explores children’s views about conflict within the self. Together, these findings suggest that preschoolers possess stable, coherent, and predictive the- ories about the nature of the self that are stable across individuals, early emerging, and in some cases undergo interesting developmental change.

Starmans, C. (2017). Children's theories of the self. Child Development, 88, 6, 1774-1785.


  • Christina Starmans