ABSTRACT The present article investigates whether there are motivational underpinnings for individual differences in level of private self-consciousness The findings provide preliminary evidence that there are underlying motivational components of need for self-knowledge and need for self-defense In the first two studies, high private self-conscious individuals (PRSCs) reported placing a higher value on accurate self-knowledge than did low PRSCs (Study 2), and acted according to that value (Study 1) In Study 3, the pattern of results supported the view that low PRSCs may have a desire to avoid unpleasant self-knowledge Our tentative conclusion is that high PRSCs may have a need for self-knowledge that is stronger than their need to protect their self-esteem, whereas low PRSCs may have a need for self-defense that outweighs self-knowledge needs Implications of these findings both for other approaches to self-consciousness and for a better understanding of the etiology of self-consciousness are discussed