Postmodernism and the Self: How Social Saturation Influences Who We Think We Are
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The current research examined the role that social saturation plays in people’s beliefs about the self. Specifically, the current studies examined whether “social saturation” predicts the belief that people have multiple selves (as opposed to one single true self). It was hypothesized that greater social saturation would lead to greater belief in multiple selves and that this relationship would be mediated by reduced self-reflection and increased perceived stress. A preliminary survey study (Study 1) using an adult noncollege student sample supported these predictions, showing that individual differences in social saturation positively predicted belief in multiple selves and that this relationship was mediated by self-reflection and perceived stress. However, exploratory analyses revealed that the relationship between social saturation and belief in multiple selves became nonsignificant when controlling for perceived stress, suggesting that perceived stress was driving this relationship. Two experimental studies (Studies 2 and 3) using college students directly manipulated the objective context (high social saturation vs. low social saturation), and revealed that the objective context of saturation did not result in the subjective experience of saturation (i.e., overload). Trends in the data revealed that participants in the high social saturation (vs. low social saturation) condition actually reported less belief in multiple selves (Study 2), less self-alienation and more selfconcept clarity (Study 3). Exploratory analyses revealed that both experimental studies showed a similar pattern to the analyses in Study 1, such that greater perceived stress was related to greater belief in multiple selves. Implications of both social saturation and stress for self-beliefs are discussed.
Hirsch, Kelly Anne (2014). Postmodernism and the Self: How Social Saturation Influences Who We Think We Are. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from