Ideal selves and self-esteem in people with independent or interdependent self-construal

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Abstract

Not living up to one's ideal self has been shown to coincide with decreased self-esteem. In the present paper, this notion is applied to the differentiation between people with independent versus interdependent self-construal. We suggest that the ideal self of independents differs in two respects from the one of interdependents: with respect to its contents (autonomous versus social self-knowledge) and with respect to the degree of context-dependency of the encoded knowledge (context-independent versus context-dependent self-knowledge). In three studies, via a priming we either manipulated contents or degree of context-dependency of what participants considered themselves to actually be like. On both explicit and implicit measures, participants with independent construal indicated higher self-esteem after priming of autonomous and context-independent knowledge than after priming of social and context-dependent knowledge. The opposite pattern was observed in participants with interdependent construal. Results suggest that independent and interdependent construals mirror different ideals which are applied as a comparison standard when evaluating the self. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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