The true self: A psychological concept distinct from the self

Perspectives on Psychological Science (forthcoming)
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Abstract

A long tradition of psychological research has explored the distinction between characteristics that are part of the self and those that lie outside of it. Recently, a surge of research has begun examining a further distinction. Even among characteristics that are internal to the self, people pick out a subset as belonging to the true self. These factors are judged as making people who they really are, deep down. In this paper, we introduce the concept of the true self and identify features that distinguish people’s understanding of the true self from their understanding of the self more generally. In particular, we consider recent findings that the true self is perceived as positive and moral, and that this tendency is actor-observer invariant and cross-culturally stable. We then explore possible explanations for these findings and discuss their implications for a variety of issues in psychology.

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Citations of this work

Personal Identity.David Shoemaker & Kevin P. Tobia - 2022 - In Manuel Vargas & John Doris (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.
Truly, Madly, Deeply: Moral Beauty & the Self.Ryan P. Doran - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
Teleological Essentialism: Generalized.David Rose & Shaun Nichols - 2020 - Cognitive Science 44 (3):e12818.

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References found in this work

Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart.Gerd Gigerenzer, Peter M. Todd & A. B. C. Research Group - 1999 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press USA. Edited by Peter M. Todd.
A theory of human motivation.A. H. Maslow - 1943 - Psychological Review 50 (4):370-396.

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