Definition of the Actual Self
The term actual self was introduced by Tory Higgins in 1987, as part of his self-discrepancy theory. From this perspective, the actual self is a cognitive structure (cognitive schemata, or representation) that contains all attributes that a person believes that are self-descriptive. These self-descriptive attributes are not necessarily issued by the owner of the actual self; they also can be issued by other people. For example, if I believe that I am a punctual person, then punctuality is part of my actual self. Similarly, if my colleagues describe me as being punctual and I am aware of this description, then punctuality is an attribute contained in my actual self. In conclusion, the actual self is a cognitive structure (or schemata, or representation) that includes all self-describing attributes that a person is aware of, regardless whether these characteristics resulted from self-evaluations or evaluations provided by others.
Similar Terms: the True Self
KeywordsCognitive Structure Negative Information Individualistic Culture Online Interaction External Contingency
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