Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 63, Issue 7, pp 568-579

First online:

What Will I Be? Exploring Gender Differences in Near and Distant Possible Selves

  • Elizabeth R. BrownAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Miami University Email author 
  • , Amanda B. DiekmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Miami University

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We investigated whether the possible selves of men and women align with the gender-differentiated social roles that are projected to vary across the lifespan. Across two studies (Study 1: N = 211 and Study 2: N = 314) of college students in the Midwestern U.S., we found that gender differences in possible selves were larger when projected into the distant future (e.g., 10–15 years) than the near future (1 year). In addition, the relationship between career and family possible selves varied depending on gender and temporal distance, with a tradeoff between career and family observed primarily among women and for distant possible selves (Study 1). Supporting role congruity theory, both genders hoped for role-congruent selves but feared role-incongruent selves (Study 2).


Social roles Possible selves Gender differences