This work documents important distinctions between thinking clearly and thinking frequently about one's future self. In Study 1, responses from 648 college students on a scale assessing future self thoughts revealed two factors, Clarity and Frequency, which differentially predicted measures of psychological functioning. Greater clarity predicted higher levels of positive states and attributes such as optimism and lower levels of negative states and attributes such as anxiety, whereas greater frequency predicted more anxiety and negative affect. Study 2 explored the roles of clarity and frequency in possible selves. Clarity predicted endorsing fewer negative possible future outcomes and greater psychological closeness to the hoped-for self. Frequency predicted listing more feared possible selves, feeling less capable of preventing the feared self, and thinking more frequently about possible selves. Implications for further understanding of self-system processes are discussed.
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