The Psychological Self as Actor, Agent, and Author

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398 Scopus citations


The psychological self may be construed as a reflexive arrangement of the subjective "I" and the constructed "Me," evolving and expanding over the human life course. The psychological self begins life as a social actor, construed in terms of performance traits and social roles. By the end of childhood, the self has become a motivated agent, too, as personal goals, motives, values, and envisioned projects for the future become central features of how the I conceives of the Me. A third layer of selfhood begins to form in the adolescent and emerging adulthood years, when the self as autobiographical author aims to construct a story of the Me, to provide adult life with broad purpose and a dynamic sense of temporal continuity. An integrative theory that envisions the psychological self as a developing I-Me configuration of actor, agent, and author helps to synthesize a wide range of conceptions and findings on the self from social, personality, cognitive, cultural, and developmental psychology and from sociology and other social sciences. The actor-agent-author framework also sheds new light on studies of self-regulation, self-esteem, self-continuity, and the relationship between self and culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-295
Number of pages24
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • autobiographical memory
  • human development
  • narrative identity
  • self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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