Self-Discrepancy

Author of Tool: 

Higgins, E. T.

Key references: 

Higgins, E. T., Shah, J., & Friedman, R. (1997). Emotional responses to goal attainment: Strength of regulatory focus as moderator. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 515-525.
 
Higgins, E. T., Klein, R., & Strauman, T. (1985). Self-concept discrepancy theory: A psychological model for distinguishing among different aspects of depression and anxiety. Social Cognition, 3, 51-76

Primary use / Purpose: 

A means of measuring of the discrepancy between ideal and actual self and the ought self according to the Sevles questionnaire

Background: 

In the Self-Discrepancy measurement, you will be asked to list the attributes of the type of person you think you actually, ideally, and ought to be: 
Actual self: Your beliefs concerning the attributes you think you actually possess. 
Ideal self: Your beliefs concerning the attributes you would like ideally to possess; your ultimate goals for yourself. 
Ought self: Your beliefs concerning the attributes you believe you should or ought to possess; your normative rules or prescriptions for yourself.
 
It is proposed that different types of self-discrepancies represent different types of negative psychological situations that are associated with different kinds of discomfort. Discrepancies between the actual/own self-state (i.e., the self-concept) and ideal self-states (i.e., representations of an individual's beliefs about his or her own or a significant other's hopes, wishes, or aspirations for the individual) signify the absence of positive outcomes, which is associated with dejection-related emotions (e.g., disappointment, dissatisfaction, sadness). In contrast, discrepancies between the actual/own self-state and ought self-states (i.e., representations of an individual's beliefs about his or her own or a significant other's beliefs about the individual's duties, responsibilities, or obligations) 
signify the presence of negative outcomes, which is associated with agitation-related emotions (e.g., fear, threat, restlessness). Differences in both the relative magnitude and the accessibility of individuals' available types of self-discrepancies are predicted to be related to differences in the kinds of discomfort people are likely to experience. Correlational and experimental evidence supports the predictions of the model.

Psychometrics: 

For more information on this measure, see Higgins, E. T., Klein, R., & Strauman, T. (1985). Self-concept discrepancy theory: A psychological model for distinguishing among different aspects of depression and anxiety. Social Cognition, 3, 51-76.

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