Scientific article

Self-defining future projections: exploring the identity function of thinking about the future

Published inMemory, vol. 20, no. 2, p. 110-120
Publication date2012

The act of projecting oneself into meaningful future events may significantly contribute to a person's sense of self and identity. Yet if the role of memories, in particular self-defining memories (SDMs), in grounding the self is now well established, the identity function of anticipated future events has received comparatively little attention. This article introduces the construct of self-defining future projection (SDFP) to address this issue. Two studies show that people can readily identify significant future events that they frequently think about and that convey core information about who they are as individuals. Furthermore, a person's particular style of constructing SDMs is similarly manifested in SDFPs, suggesting that both types of events can be used to ground the self. Notably, people who display a stronger tendency to extract meaning from their past experiences also reflect more about the potential implications of imagined future events. The results further demonstrate that SDMs and SDFPs both give rise to a strong sense of personal continuity over time and are meaningfully related to self-esteem. Together these findings lend support to the idea that a person's sense of self and identity is in part nourished by the anticipation of significant future events.

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept
  • Thinking
Citation (ISO format)
D’ARGEMBEAU, Arnaud, LARDI ROBYN, Claudia, VAN DER LINDEN, Martial. Self-defining future projections: exploring the identity function of thinking about the future. In: Memory, 2012, vol. 20, n° 2, p. 110–120. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2011.647697
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0965-8211

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