Annu Rev Psychol. 2023 Jan 18;74:333-361. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-032420-032236. Epub 2022 Aug 12.


Self-continuity is the subjective sense of connection between one's past and present selves (past-present self-continuity), between one's present and future selves (present-future self-continuity), or among one's past, present, and future selves (global self-continuity). We consider the motivational character of the three forms of self-continuity, their regulatory properties, and the internal or external factors that consolidate them. We also review their consequences for attitudes and judgments or decisions, motivation, intentions and behavior, and psychological and physical health. We further detail the psychological and behavioral benefits of self-discontinuity (i.e., a sense of disconnect among temporal selves). We next turn to the brain regions that are activated synchronously with self-continuity. We consider developmental perspectives on self-continuity, discuss collective self-continuity (along with its consequences and regulatory properties), and elaborate on cultural differences in self-continuity. This inaugural Annual Reviews chapter demonstrates the breadth, excitement, and sense of synergy among self-continuity researchers and points to promising research directions.

Keywords: attitudes; behavior; collective self; culture; psychological health; self-continuity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Self Concept*