Objects and Self-Identity

Objects and Self-Identity

By
S. Christian Wheeler, Christopher J. Bechler
Current Opinion in Psychology. June
2021, Vol. 39, Pages 6–11

This article reviews how objects can serve as indicators of one’s identity and signals of important life events. Objects carry both personal and social meaning, and ownership or usage increases the linkage between the object and the self. Owned objects are valued more due to their linkage with the (positively viewed) self. Similarly, self-views can assimilate to the associations of the owned or used object. We rely on the insights of consistency theories (e.g. Balance Theory) to provide a unifying umbrella for the literature, and we review how the acquisition and abandonment of objects can shape self-views, affect task performance, and serve as inward and outward signals of group membership.