Distinguishing Positive and Negative Self-Evaluations in Age Differences in Possible Selves


  • Adrian Morawiak
  • Joanna Gutral
  • Marzena Cypryańska
  • John Nezlek Orcid


Participants in the present study (82 high school students and 60 seniors) used a version of the Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI) to describe their past (10 years ago), present, and future (10 years from the present) selves. From the TIPI we derived measures of positive and negative self-evaluation. We analyzed these data with 2 (young-old) x 3 (past, present, and future) ANOVAs. Consistent with previous research, for positive self-evaluations, we found that younger people thought they were better now than they had been in the past and would be better in the future than they were now, and older people thought that had been better in the past than they were now, and that they were better now than they would be in the future. In contrast, and inconsistent with previous research, for negative self-evaluations, we found few differences among ratings of the three selves. We provide a tentative explanation of these results based on possible differences in how positive and negative age related stereotypes are incorporated into self-evaluations. Previous research has not distinguished positive and negative self-evaluations when examining differences among possible selves, and we believe the present results suggest that this might be a fruitful area of inquiry.