looking out from a cave

Self-Concept Clarity

Self-concept clarity (Campbell et al., 1996) is a judgment not of the content of personality, as represented by trait ratings or narratives, but of the consistency of the self. That is, self-concept clarity is concerned with the degree to which individuals have a clear, well-defined, and stable perception of who they are on a day-to-day basis. My work on this construct demonstrates that while it is concerned with self-consistency; self-concept clarity is itself a meaningful developmental construct that can facilitate a better understanding of the trajectories of personality content across the lifespan (Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2010; Lodi-Smith, Spain, Cologgi, & Roberts, 2017).

Specifically, in two independent cross-sectional samples, I demonstrate that self-concept clarity has a curvilinear relationship with age such that it is at its peak in midlife while being lower for young and older adults (Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2010). My recent work with a longitudinal subset of these samples indicates that self-concept clarity shows substantive patterns of intraindividual variability over time in both individual differences in change and stability (Lodi-Smith et al., 2017). My research suggests that these individual differences in self-concept clarity are, at least in part, contingent on psychosocial phenomenon such as socioeconomic status (Na, Chan, Lodi-Smith, & Park, 2016) and role limitations due to poor health (Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2010; Lodi-Smith et al., 2017). Further, my work on self-concept clarity suggests self-concept clarity is a central mechanism in trait maturation across adulthood and particularly in late life (Lodi-Smith et al., 2017).

One of the most rewarding parts of my work with self-concept clarity has been helping maintain research into the construct. Research on self-concept clarity was at risk in the years after the innovator of the construct, Jennifer Campbell, retired. However, my work and the work of my colleagues maintained the vitality of the idea of self-concept clarity and its importance for understanding personality, development, social relationships, and psychological well-being. My forthcoming edited volume on self-concept clarity, co-edited with my colleague Ken DeMarree, illustrates this vitality (Lodi-Smith & DeMarree, forthcoming).

Relevant publications:

  • Lodi-Smith, J, & DeMarree, K.M. (Eds.). (2018). Self-Concept Clarity. New York: Springer.
  • Na, J., Chan, M.Y., Lodi-Smith, J., & Park, D.C. (2016). Social-class differences in self-concept clarity and their implications for well-being. In press at The Journal of Health Psychology.
  • Lodi-Smith, J., Cologgi, K., Spain, S.M., & Roberts, B.W. (2017). Development of identity clarity and content in adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 155, 755-768.
  • Lodi-Smith, J. & Roberts, B.W. (2010). Getting to know me: Social role experiences mediate the relationship between self-concept clarity and age during adulthood. Journal of Personality, 78, 1383-1410.