The Divided Self: Concurrent and Longitudinal Effects of Psychological Adjustment and Social Roles on Self-Concept Differentiation

Eileen M. Donahue, Richard W. Robins, Brent W. Roberts, Oliver P. John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The relation between self-concept differentiation (SCD), the tendency to see oneself as having different personality characteristics in different social roles, and psychological adjustment was examined in a sample of college students and a sample of middle-aged women. In both studies, Ss with high levels of SCD showed poor emotional adjustment (e.g., depression) and tended to reject social norms and conventions (e.g., low socialization). Longitudinal analyses demonstrated that these same characteristics measured at age 21 predicted SCD measured more than 30 years later in middle age. These findings provide strong evidence that SCD is a sign of fragmentation of the self rather than specialization of role identities. The social context was also an important determinant of SCD; both dissatisfaction with role performance and frequent role changes in relationships and jobs predicted SCD measured 9 years later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-846
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume64
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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