The multiple self and the unity of identity: An experiential-analytical approach

Ewa Trzebińska, Tamara Miś, Izabela Rutczyńska

Abstract


The research addresses the issue of the pluralism of the Self. It has sought to answer the question how in the circumstances of having different Selves it is possible to preserve the unity of identity. Three experiments have been conducted to verify the hypothesis that a representation of one's own person, either as a collection of separate structures or a collection of closely linked structures, may effectively buffer stress (Linvilles, 1985), if this organization appears in an appropriate area of self-knowledge. Students from various universities took part in these experiments, in total 440 subjects. Each experiment was designed to manipulate with the kind and organization of self-knowledge: the experiential or analytical self-image (Trzebińska, 1998) was activated in the form of separate or closely linked cognitive units. The subjects were exposed to various challenges and difficulties, and then their psychic stability was measured. The findings have shown that experiential knowledge organized as separate cognitive units and analytical knowledge, being a coherent whole, may effectively buffer stress, e. g. risk associated with the decision-making process and threat for self-evaluation (experiment 1), suffering attendant on failure (experiment 2), and fear of death (experiment 3). Thus it has been proved that the organization of each of the areas of self-knowledge is different, and it is interpreted as a natural property of the representation of one's own person. Thereby it is possible to have at the same time a multiple and coherent identity.


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References


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