When we think about the self, we often use the idea of the “self-concept”. The self-concept is the idea or mental model that we have about ourselves as individual people. American and European thinking tends to take the idea of a self-concept for granted. But it is interesting to note that the idea only began to emerge in the 17th century, with the work of Descartes, Locke and Hume, who all emphasised the idea of a “self” as the central part of consciousness. As European society moved out of mediaeval feudalism and into merchant-based economies, the idea became increasingly popular, until the concept of the independent individual rather than the individual-within-community became dominant in society. In early psychology, it was further developed by William James (1890), whose work largely established the assumptions about the self which psychologists used for most of the following century.