Self and Identity in Personality Psychology


  • Dan P. McAdams
  • Kali Trzesniewski
  • Jennifer Lilgendahl
  • Veronica Benet-Martinez
  • Richard W. Robins


Research on self and identity has greatly enhanced personality science by directing inquiry more deeply into the person’s conscious mind and more expansively outward into the social environments that contextualize individual differences in behavior, thought, and feeling. After delineating key concepts and offering reasons why personality psychologists should care about self and identity processes, we highlight important empirical discoveries that are of special relevance to personality science in the areas of (1) self-insight, (2) self-conscious emotions, (3) self-esteem, (4) narrative identity, and (5) the role of culture in shaping self, identity, and the integration of personality. We anticipate that future research will also move vigorously to (1) develop more comprehensive and precise accounts of how life experiences influence the development of self and identity, (2) explore more fully how the brain builds a sense of self, and (3) harness what we know about self and identity to improve people’s lives and promote personality development.