Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 18, Iss. 4, October, 2014, pp. 349-369
@2014 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Fractal Dynamics in Self-Evaluation Reveal Self-Concept Clarity

Alexander E. Wong, Florida Atlantic University
Robin R. Vallacher, Florida Atlantic University
Andrzej Nowak, Florida Atlantic University

Abstract: The structural account of self-esteem and self-evaluation maintains that they are distinct constructs. Trait self-esteem is stable and is expressed over macro timescales, whereas state self-evaluation is unstable and experienced on micro timescales. We compared predictions based on the structural account with those derived from a dynamical systems perspective on the self, which maintains that self-esteem and self-evaluation are hierarchically related and share basic dynamic properties. Participants recorded a 3-minute narrative about themselves, then used the mouse paradigm (Vallacher, Nowak, Froehlich, & Rockloff, 2002) to track the momentary self-evaluation in their narrative. Multiple methods converged to reveal fractal patterns in the resultant temporal patterns, indicative of nested timescales that link micro and macro selfevaluation and thus supportive of the dynamical account. The fractal dynamics were associated with participants” self-concept clarity, suggesting that the hierarchical relation between macro self-evaluation (self-esteem) and momentary self-evaluation is predicted by the coherence of self-concept organization.

Keywords: self-esteem, self-organization, time series, nonlinear dynamical systems, individual differences, 1/f noise