Thinking about Change in the Self and Others: The Role of Self-Discovery Metaphors and the True Self


People change over the course of their lives, yet little is known about how people think about these changes. We expected that evaluative judgments of changes would relate to the type of metaphors people use to describe those changes. Specifically, we predicted that the more positively a change is evaluated, the more likely it is to be perceived as a self “discovery” (i.e., a change driven by discovering something within the self). Study 1 established a correlational relationship between perceived positivity and self-discovery in changes in both the self and a close other. Study 2 manipulated the valance of the change and found that positive changes were more likely to be endorsed as self-discoveries than negative changes. These findings highlight the importance of self-discovery metaphors in understanding how people make sense of changes in the self and close others. Implications for meaning making, well-being, and narrative research are discussed.

Social Cognition