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Compartmentalization and Integration: The Evaluative Organization of Contextualized Selves


concerning this article may be sent to Carolin J. Showers, Department of Psychology, University of Oklahoma, 455 W. Lindsey Street, #705, Norman, OK 73019. E-mail:


ABSTRACT This article reviews research on the evaluative organization (compartmentalized or integrative) of contextualized selves. Evaluatively compartmentalized self-structures consist of multiple selves, each of which is either mostly positive or mostly negative. Evaluatively integrative self-structures represent each self with a mixture of positive and negative attributes. These different styles of organizing self-knowledge have been linked to current mood and self-esteem. More recently, studies of evaluative organization have examined self-esteem stability, coping styles (e.g., self-enhancement or resilience), change in self-organization, as well as psychopathology and psychological treatment. Findings suggest that compartmentalized self-structures, typically associated with the highest levels of self-esteem, may be vulnerable to instability. In contrast, the more moderate self-views of individuals with integrative self-structures may offer greater stability, increased resilience, and a means of coping with extreme stress.