Date of Graduation

Spring 2021


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Christie Cathey


People have higher ratings of meaning in life when they feel like they know their true self. This study examines whether one’s thoughts about their true self and meaning in life are consistent with a high-level construal. According to Construal Level Theory (CLT), the type of mental construal (i.e., low-level versus high-level) used depends upon how much psychological distance there is between the self and the object one is mentally representing. Objects perceived as far from the self use a high-level construal, which is more abstract, simple, and schematic. Objects perceived as close to the self use a low-level construal, which is more concrete, detailed descriptions. Research has demonstrated that the true self is thought about in abstract ways; it is believed to be derived from innate essences, and it is thought to be tied more closely to mental states. Two online studies were conducted to test the effects of construal level on meaning in life and the true self. Participants in Study 1 completed a task that primed either a high- or low-level construal and then completed a measure of meaning in life. Participants in Study 2 also completed the construal priming task followed by a writing task designed to prime and then measure either their true or actual self-knowledge. Two ANCOVAs found nonsignificant differences between construal groups on measures of meaning in life and true self-knowledge. Findings suggest that larger sample sizes and different experimental designs should be used in future research.


meaning in life, true self, Construal Level Theory, psychological distance, actual self, concretization, abstraction

Subject Categories

Other Psychology | Social Psychology | Theory and Philosophy


© Lydia M. Needy

Open Access