Self-standards and self-discrepancies. A structural model of self-knowledge

A model of self-knowledge is proposed which summarizes and integrates a few distinctions concerning self-standards and related self-discrepancies. Four types of self-standards are distinguished (i.e. ideal, ought, undesired and forbidden selves) and a hierarchical organization of these standards is postulated. There is a basic contrast between positive and negative standards at the higher level of the hierarchy, whereas Higgins’ distinction between ideals and oughts is found at the lower level. Every self-standard is analyzed in terms of two types of self-discrepancies. Many previous studies explored discrepancies between self-standards and the actual self, i.e. the perceived actualization of standards. The present study proposed that discrepancies between self-standards and the can self are a second type of discrepancy that should be included in structural models of self-knowledge. The can self consists of self-beliefs referring to capabilities and potentials; thus, this additional type of discrepancy reflects the perceived attainability of standards. Consequently, the present study explored a set of eight self-discrepancies, i.e. both the perceived actualization and the attainability of four self-standards. In order to assess the intercorrelations among these eight self-discrepancies, participants (N=404) completed a newly developed online measure. CFA modeling confirmed the postulated two-level hierarchy of self-standards. The reasonability of including discrepancies between self-standards and the can self in the structural model of self-knowledge was also confirmed.
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