What Does It Mean to Be in Touch With Oneself? Testing a Social Character Model of Self-congruence

Kennon M. Sheldon, Alexander Gunz, Todd R. Schachtman

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What does it mean to be in or out of touch with oneself? Using undergraduate samples we tested a new conception and measure of self-congruence, based on the social character that people inhabit in their interpersonal lives. The measure quantifies whether the Big Five traits of a person's typical social character are consistent with the traits of his/her unguarded self. Study 1 (N = 135) showed that the non-discrepant character measure predicted subjective well-being (SWB), independently of the traits (i.e., low neuroticism, high extraversion) comprising the measure. The association with SWB was also independent of Goldman and Kernis's (2002) Likert-based measure of authenticity. Study 2 (N = 170) replicated these effects and also showed that the new measure was associated with self-concept differentiation (SCD; Donahue, Robins, Roberts, & John, 1993) and, in fact, accounted for SCD's effects. Study 2 demonstrated that psychological need-satisfaction mediated the link between having a non-discrepant social character and SWB. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-70
Number of pages19
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Authenticity
  • Psychological needs
  • Self-concept differentiation
  • Self-congruence


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