Possible selves as behavioral standards in self-regulation


Journal Article

We investigated a potential mechanism by which possible selves affect behavior by considering them in the context of control-process models of self-regulation. After a hoped-for or feared self in the health domain was made salient, participants were provided with opportunities to behave in ways that would address any unwanted discrepancy between the salient possible self and the current self. In order to ensure that behavior was in the service of self-regulation, we compromised the self-regulatory capacity of some participants and, after the opportunity to behaviorally regulate, assessed negative affect. We expected evidence of behavioral self-regulation only for participants with adequate self-regulatory capacity and heightened negative affect in participants who did not behaviorally self-regulate. The results generally supported our hypotheses when a feared self in the health domain was made salient. We attribute the failure to find effects for a salient hoped-for self to the general lack of discrepancy between hoped-for and current selves in the health domain for university students. These findings extend past research on the role of possible selves in self-regulation by conceptualizing possible selves as a component in control-process models of behavioral self-regulation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • van Dellen, M; Hoyle, RH

Published Date

  • May 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 295 - 304

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-8876

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1529-8868

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/15298860701641108

Citation Source

  • Scopus