Do You Have a True Self?


Chances are you have lots of beliefs about yourself and other people. You use these beliefs to help predict why people do what they do. If someone yells at you, you might forgive them because you know they are under a lot of strain. Or, you might mistrust them because you think that this person is always angry at you. Or, you might even think that—deep down—they are an angry person who should be avoided.

That is, there are times when you believe that a person’s actions reflect the situation they are in or their current mental state. But, you also have times when you think that a person’s actions are a reflection of their true self.

Psychologists have been interested in capturing the qualities that people think are part of someone’s true self and also in understanding how the idea of a true self affects people’s actions and their relationships with others. This research was summarized in a fascinating review by Nina Strohminger, Joshua Knobe, and George Newman in a recent paper published by Perspectives on Psychological Science. To read more from ART MARKMAN, click here.