Being oneself through time: Bases of self-continuity across 55 cultures

Becker M., Vignoles V. L., Owe E., Easterbrook M. J., Brown R., Smith P. B., ...More

SELF AND IDENTITY, vol.17, no.3, pp.276-293, 2018 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/15298868.2017.1330222
  • Journal Name: SELF AND IDENTITY
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.276-293
  • Keywords: Identity, culture, self-continuity, mutability, personhood beliefs, mindset, IMPLICIT THEORIES, IDENTITY, FUTURE, INDIVIDUALISM, ESSENTIALISM, BELIEFS, MOTIVES
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


Self-continuity - the sense that one's past, present, and future are meaningfully connected - is considered a defining feature of personal identity. However, bases of self-continuity may depend on cultural beliefs about personhood. In multilevel analyses of data from 7287 adults from 55 cultural groups in 33 nations, we tested a new tripartite theoretical model of bases of self-continuity. As expected, perceptions of stability, sense of narrative, and associative links to one's past each contributed to predicting the extent to which people derived a sense of self-continuity from different aspects of their identities. Ways of constructing self-continuity were moderated by cultural and individual differences in mutable (vs. immutable) personhood beliefs - the belief that human attributes are malleable. Individuals with lower mutability beliefs based self-continuity more on stability; members of cultures where mutability beliefs were higher based self-continuity more on narrative. Bases of self-continuity were also moderated by cultural variation in contextualized (vs. decontextualized) personhood beliefs, indicating a link to cultural individualism-collectivism. Our results illustrate the cultural flexibility of the motive for self-continuity.