Representations of the Self in the Near and Distant Future

Cheryl J. Wakslak*, Shiri Nussbaum, Nira Liberman, Yaacov Trope

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seven studies provide evidence that representations of the self at a distant-future time point are more abstract and structured than are representations of the self at a near-future time point and that distant-future behaviors are more strongly related to general self-conceptions. Distant-future self-representations incorporate broader, more superordinate identities than do near-future self-representations (Study 1) and are characterized by less complexity (Study 2), more cross-situational consistency (Study 3), and a greater degree of schematicity (Study 4). Furthermore, people's behavioral predictions of their distant-future (vs. near-future) behavior are more strongly related to their general self-characteristics (Study 5), distant-future behaviors are seen as more self-expressive (Study 6), and distant-future behaviors that do not match up with acknowledged self-characteristics are more strongly rejected as reflections of the self (Study 7). Implications for understanding both the nature of the self-concept and the way in which distance may influence a range of self-processes are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-773
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Mental HealthR01MH059030


    • construal
    • distance
    • self-concept
    • self-structure
    • time


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