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A Decision Theoretic and Prototype Conceptualization of Possible Selves: Implications for the Prediction of Risk Behavior


  • This research was supported by Grant R01AA1226901 from the National Institute of Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse.

  • Shannon Quinlan, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany; Jim Jaccard, Department of Psychology, Florida International University; Hart Blanton, Department of Psychology, Texas A & M University.

concerning this article should be addressed to Jim Jaccard, Department of Psychology, Florida International University, University Park, Miami, FL 33199; E-mail:, or Hart Blanton, Department of Psychology, 4235 Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77843-4235; E-mail:


ABSTRACT The present study explores a new framework for conceptualizing possible selves for the prediction of behavior. The framework uses decision theory, attitude theory, and classic expectancy-value models. The focus is on using possible-self constructs that (a) correspond to behavioral alternatives, (b) focus on self dimensions directly tied to the behavioral criterion, and (c) use expectancy-value constructs to assess the core features of a given possible self-dimension. A study of 305 college students was undertaken to predict alcohol use from possible self constructs using the framework. Results affirmed the utility of the approach, showing that possible-self constructs predicted behavior over and above current self-image and constructs in the Theory of Planned Behavior. Possible-self constructs associated with negative attributes of both binge drinkers and nonbinge drinkers were predictive of behavior.