Confusion or Clarity? Examining a Possible Tradeoff Between Self-Expansion and Self-Concept Clarity

Lydia F. Emery*, Erin K. Hughes, Wendi L. Gardner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Most people are motivated to self-expand, collecting new attributes and experiences in a process that boosts well-being, but people with low self-concept clarity resist it. Perhaps, then, there is a tradeoff between self-expansion and self-concept clarity. Across a 2-week daily dairy, we found no evidence for such a tradeoff—self-expanding was not associated with lower self-concept clarity, either that day, the next day, or the period as a whole. In fact, self-expansion was associated with higher self-concept clarity, but especially for people with lower initial self-concept clarity. Although they were less likely to self-expand on a daily basis, when they did self-expand, they reported higher self-concept clarity and, in turn, greater satisfaction with life. These findings suggest that self-expansion in daily life does not come at the cost of a coherent self-concept and that despite their reluctance, people with lower self-concept clarity may experience associated benefits from self-expanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • romantic relationships
  • self-concept
  • self-concept clarity
  • self-expansion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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