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To Discover or to Create: Metaphors and the True Self


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rebecca Schlegel, Psychology Department, Texas A&M University, 4235 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4235. Email:


Three studies examined how endorsement of self-discovery and self-creation metaphors influences belief in the true self and its use as meaning source. It was hypothesized that discovery metaphors contribute to belief in the true self and bolster the relationship between true self-knowledge and meaning. Study 1 supported the hypothesis that discovery is positively associated with belief in the true self among a sample of college students (N = 311). Studies 2 and 3 extended the analysis by showing that the discovery metaphor also facilitates perceptions of meaning and the use of the true self specifically as a source of meaning in a second sample of college students (N = 75) as well as an adult sample of university employees (N = 173). Implications for understanding what enables the true self to infuse life with meaning, as well as an individual differences approach to metaphoric cognition, are discussed.