Is self-complexity linked to better coping? A review of the literature

J Pers. 2004 Aug;72(4):727-60. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-3506.2004.00278.x.


Initial theorizing depicted self-complexity as the number of nonoverlapping self-aspects, such as traits, roles, and behaviors, and proposed that greater self-complexity is linked to better coping in response to stress and negative events. A review of the literature, however, finds inconsistent results. The inconsistency apparently arises from variation in the measurement of self-complexity. The different measures stem from disagreement over the definition of self-complexity, and the various definitions apparently result from theoretical disagreement about how to conceptualize the structure of self-knowledge. The present paper reviews the self-complexity literature and suggests directions for future research. The present paper suggests a positive, moderating relationship between self-complexity and coping, and additional research that includes careful measurement and definition of self-complexity may provide stronger support for this relationship.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Awareness*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Internal-External Control
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Self Concept*