Restoring Meaning: Self-uncertainty Increases Subjective Distance Between the Past and Present Self

Qing Yang, Oscar Ybarra, Yufang Zhao, Xiting Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Based on the meaning maintenance model and temporal self-appraisal theory, we conducted 2 experiments with Chinese college students to test how self-uncertainty salience affected the subjective distance between the past and present self. We manipulated uncertainty salience and asked participants to explicitly (Study 1) or implicitly (Study 2) indicate their subjective distance. Participants in both studies increased the subjective distance when uncertainty was made salient. In addition, this effect was moderated by dispositional self-esteem in Study 2, with participants with low self-esteem reporting greater subjective distance than did high self-esteem participants after uncertainty-salience priming. These findings suggest that the process of appraising the past self may help individuals deal with feelings of uncertainty about the present self.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere8823
JournalSocial Behavior and Personality
Volume48
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Autobiographical memory
  • Meaning
  • Past self
  • Present self
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-uncertainty
  • Subjective distance
  • Temporal self-appraisal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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