The Temporally Extended Self: The Relation of Past and Future Selves to Current Identity, Motivation, and Goal Pursuit



People's current identity is constructed not only in the present moment but also by looking back to past selves and forward to future selves. In this article, we review research on the temporally extended self, with a focus on recent work informed by temporal self-appraisal theory. People often recall the past and imagine the future in ways that contribute to a favorable current identity. Subjective temporal distance (how near or distant a point in time feels) plays a powerful role in determining temporal self-appraisals. In turn, people's judgments of subjective distance can shift when considering temporal selves with good or bad implications for current identity. We will describe research exploring the complex interconnections between past, present, and future identity. In addition, we consider some of the unique implications that people's constructions of future selves might have for their plans and goals, and how predicted selves might influence goal-pursuit motivation and behavior.