Thine Own Self: True Self-Concept Accessibility and Meaning in Life
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A number of philosophical and psychological theories suggest the true self is an important contributor to well-being. The present research examined whether the cognitive accessibility of the true self-concept would predict the experience of meaning in life. To ensure that any observed effects were due to the true self-concept rather than to the self-concept more generally, the authors used actual self-concept accessibility as a control variable in all studies. True and actual self-concepts were defined as including those traits that are enacted around close others vs. most others (Studies 1 through 3) or as traits that refer to "who you really are" vs. "who you are during most of your activities" (Studies 4 and 5), respectively. Studies 1, 2, and 4 showed that individual differences in true self-concept accessibility, but not differences in actual self-concept accessibility, predicted meaning in life. Studies 3 and 5 showed that priming traits related to the true self-concept enhanced perceptions of meaning in life. Implications for the study of the true self-concept and authenticity are discussed.
author list (cited authors)
Schlegel, R. J., Hicks, J. A., Arndt, J., & King, L. A.