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Coping with Identity Conflict: Perceptions of Self as Flexible versus Fixed Moderate the Effect of Identity Conflict on Well-being

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In four experimental studies, we explored the moderating role of perceptions of one’s self as flexible vs. fixed on the relationship between identity conflict, well-being, and self-esteem. Across different contexts, it was demonstrated that representations of self as stable vs. changeable moderated the effect of conflicting identities on well-being and self-esteem. Specifically, the activation of conflicting identities led to a decrease in well-being and self-esteem among those who construed their self as stable, but not among those who adopted flexible representations of self. The results suggest that the net effect of multiple identities depends not only on their compatibility and importance, but also on the way in which one’s self-concept is construed.
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Keywords: Identity conflict; Multiple identities; Perceptions of self

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Psychology, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

Publication date: March 3, 2016

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