The dynamic interplay between perceived true self-knowledge and decision satisfaction

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Abstract

The present research used multiple methods to examine the hypothesis that perceived true self-knowledge and decision satisfaction are inextricably linked together by a widely held “true-self-as-guide” lay theory of decision making. Consistent with this proposition, Study 1 found that participants rated using the true self as a guide as more important for achieving personal satisfaction than a variety of other potential decision-making strategies. After establishing the prevalence of this lay theory, the remaining studies then focused on examining the proposed consequent relationship between perceived true self-knowledge and decision satisfaction. Consistent with hypotheses, 2 cross-sectional correlational studies (Studies 2 and 3) found a positive relationship between perceived true self-knowledge and decision satisfaction for different types of major decisions. Study 4 used daily diary methods to demonstrate that fluctuations in perceived true self-knowledge reliably covary with fluctuations in decision satisfaction. Finally, 2 studies directly examined the causal direction of this relationship through experimental manipulation and revealed that the relationship is truly bidirectional. More specifically, Study 5 showed that manipulating perceived knowledge of the true self (but not other self-concepts) directly affects decision satisfaction. Study 6 showed that this effect also works in reverse by manipulating feelings of decision satisfaction, which directly affected perceived knowledge of the true self (but not other self-concepts). Taken together, these studies suggest that people believe the true self should be used as a guide when making major life decisions and that this belief has observable consequences for the self and decision making.

Publication
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

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