Multiple identity enactments and multiple personality disorder: a sociocognitive perspective

Psychol Bull. 1994 Jul;116(1):143-65. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.116.1.143.


People who enact multiple identities behave as if they possess 2 or more selves, each with its own characteristic moods, memories, and behavioral repertoire. Under different names, this phenomenon occurs in many cultures; in North American culture, it is frequently labeled multiple personality disorder (MPD). This article reviews experimental, cross-cultural, historical, and clinical findings concerning multiplicity and examines the implications of these findings for an understanding of MPD. Multiplicity is viewed from a sociocognitive perspective, and it is concluded that MPD, like other forms of multiplicity, is socially constructed. It is context bounded, goal-directed, social behavior geared to the expectations of significant others, and its characteristics have changed over time to meet changing expectations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / psychology
  • Consciousness
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Social Behavior