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

Maja Becker*, Vivian L. Vignoles, Ellinor Owe, Matthew J. Easterbrook, Rupert Brown, Peter B. Smith, Sami Abuhamdeh, Boris Cendales Ayala, Ragna B. Garðarsdóttir, Ana Torres, Leoncio Camino, Michael Harris Bond, George Nizharadze, Benjamin Amponsah, Inge Schweiger Gallo, Paula Prieto Gil, Raquel Lorente Clemares, Gabriella Campara, Agustín Espinosa, Masaki YukiXiao Zhang, Jianxin Zhang, Martina Zinkeng, Juan A. Villamar, Ersin Kusdil, Selinay Çağlar, Camillo Regalia, Claudia Manzi, Maria Brambilla, David Bourguignon, Bettina Möller, Márta Fülöp, Ma Elizabeth J. Macapagal, Tom Pyszczynski, Phatthanakit Chobthamkit, Nicolay Gausel, Pelin Kesebir, Ginette Herman, Marie Courtois, Charles Harb, Baland Jalal, Alexander Tatarko, Said Aldhafri, Robert Kreuzbauer, Silvia H. Koller, Kassahun Habtamu Mekonnen, Ronald Fischer, Taciano L. Milfont, Sabrina E. Des Rosiers, Jas Laile Jaafar, Mariana Martin, Peter Baguma, Shaobo Lv, Seth J. Schwartz, Alin Gavreliuc, Immo Fritsche, Roberto González, Nicolas Didier, Diego Carrasco, Siugmin Lay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-293
Number of pages18
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 4 2018


  • Identity
  • culture
  • mindset
  • mutability
  • personhood beliefs
  • self-continuity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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