Self-Complexity and Well-Being: A Review and Research Synthesis

Eshkol Rafaeli-Mor, Jennifer Steinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


We reviewed the extant literature examining Linville's (1985, 1987) self-complexity (SC) model. SC is a structural feature of people's self-knowledge. Linville (1987) proposed that SC serves as a cognitive buffer against extreme affective reactions to life events. We report results of two procedures: a classic meta-analysis and a more primitive vote-counting procedure. Overall, SC was negatively, but weakly, related to well-being, a relationship qualified by strong heterogeneity among studies. We found little support for SC as a stress buffer, but more support as a moderator of uplifting events. Several methodological and substantive variables (e.g., the type of well-being studied, the valence of SC, and characteristics of the samples and designs used) were associated with effect magnitude. We discuss implications for competing theories of self-structure and comment on the use of information theory in studying the self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-58
Number of pages28
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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