The emerging self: the convergence of mind, personality and thinking styles


Andreas Demetriou , Department of Educational Sciences, University of Cyprus, PO Box 20537, CY-1678, Nicosia, Cyprus;e-mail:


This paper aims to integrate research and theorizing about problem solving, self and personality into a comprehensive theory. With this purpose, the paper attempts to answer three questions: how do humans become aware of themselves and how do the products of self-awareness interrelate to produce an integrated self-system, which includes the domains of cognition and personality? How do persons know and influence each other? How do these processes change with development? The answers given to these questions by self, personality and cognitive developmental psychology are critically examined. It is concluded that an overarching model would have to assume a multilevel and multidimensional architecture. This would involve three main levels: the first includes general-purpose processes and functions, such as processing efficiency and working memory, which define current cognitive potentials; the second includes several domain-specific systems directed to different aspects of the environment; the third includes self-oriented processes that register, represent and regulate processes at the other two levels. Each person’s self-concepts result from the application of the third level on the other two and they differentially reflect their condition. Personality reflects the interaction between these self-concepts and dispositions to act in particular ways. Because humans share this architecture they can negotiate and affect each other’s self- and reflected representations. Thus, the formation of mind, self and personality results from a continuous flow of interactions between the levels and domains of mind within and across persons. The article summarizes a series of studies lending support to this general model.