On using what we know about ourselves in thinking about others: Not so fast


We argue that the frequently assumed privileged role of the self as a habitual reference point in social judgments is often hindered by the fact that, unlike other persons, the self is typically represented primarily in terms of internal, unobservable characteristics. This idiosyncratic feature of self-representations may render them incompatible with many other social representations. Yet, such limitations are not universal. In particular, incompatibility is less of a problem when (1) the judgment target is someone psychologically close; (2) accessible self-representations involve distant (rather than recent) self-memories; (3) accessible self-representations are relatively abstract, (semanticized) rather than event-specific; or, (4) social judgements concern not a specific other person but more abstract social concepts such as traits.

Self and Identity