Thine own self: true self-concept accessibility and meaning in life. Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.

published proceedings

  • J Pers Soc Psychol

altmetric score

  • 59.42

author list (cited authors)

  • Schlegel, R. J., Hicks, J. A., Arndt, J., & King, L. A.

citation count

  • 220

complete list of authors

  • Schlegel, Rebecca J||Hicks, Joshua A||Arndt, Jamie||King, Laura A

publication date

  • February 2009