Introduces the concept of possible selves (PSs) to complement current conceptions of self-knowledge. PSs represent individuals’ ideas of what they might become, what they would like to become, and what they are afraid of becoming, and thus provide a conceptual link beteen cognition and motivation. PSs are the cognitive components of hopes, fears, goals, and threats; they give the specific self-relevant form, meaning, organization, and direction to these dynamics. It is suggested that PSs function as incentives for future behavior and to provide an evaluative and interpretive context for the current view of self. The nature and function of PSs and their role in addressing several persistent problems (e.g., the stability and malleability of the self, the unity of the self, self-distortion, the relationship between the self-concept and behavior) are discussed.
Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American psychologist, 41(9), 954-969.