How Does “Being Real” Feel? The Experience of State Authenticity

Alison Lenton, Martin Bruder, Letitia Slabu, Constantine Sedikides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We propose that the experience of state authenticity—the subjective sense of being one's true self—ought to be considered separately from trait authenticity as well as from prescriptions regarding what should make people feel authentic.

In Study 1 (N = 104), online participants rated the frequency of and motivation for experiences of authenticity and inauthenticity. Studies 2 (N = 268) and 3 (N = 93) asked (local or online, respectively) participants to describe their experiences of authenticity or inauthenticity. Participants in Studies 1 and 2 also completed measures of trait authenticity, and participants in Study 3 rated their experience with respect to several phenomenological dimensions.

Study 1 demonstrated that people are motivated to experience state authenticity and avoid inauthenticity and that such experiences are common, regardless of one's degree of trait authenticity. Coding of Study 2's narratives identified the emotions accompanying and needs fulfilled in each state. Trait authenticity generally did not qualify the nature of (in)authentic experiences. Study 3 corroborated the results of Study 2 and further revealed positive mood and nostalgia as consequences of reflecting on experiences of authenticity.

We discuss implications of these findings for conceptualizations of authenticity and the self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-289
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number3
Early online date21 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • state authenticity
  • need satisfaction
  • affect and emotion
  • autobiographical narratives
  • self


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