Definition of social mirrors

Written by travis wampler
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Social interaction is driven by the perception of peers, and how one sees himself as perceived. If a joke is told and no one laughs, then the person telling the joke will perceive that he is unfunny, or that no one gets his humour. In simple terms, the social mirror is what you think other people think of you.

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As proposed by Charles Whitehead, Social Mirror Theory states that people are not capable of self-reflection without taking into consideration a peer's interpretation of the experience. In other words, people define and resolve their internal musings through other's viewpoints.


Social Mirror Theory was derived during the 1800s from concepts related to the study of public opinion and social interaction by Wilhelm Dilthey, the German philosopher and sociologist.

Modern Social Mirror Theory

In 1934, George Herbert Mead, an iconic social psychologist, formulated that if an individual places herself in the shoes of another, then she will truly see himself as the world sees her.

Social Mirror in Early Development

Infants and toddlers learn from mocking observed behaviours. Learnt behaviours and thought are reflections generated from social interaction.

Therapist as a Social Mirror

A psychologist or therapist is often viewed as a social mirror. In this setting, as a person shares his story, feedback is given and internal reflection begins.

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