Pressing Obligations or Inspiring Potentials? The Influence of the Ought vs. Expected Selves on Task Performance


  • Waclaw Bak
  • Slawomir Ciastek
  • Malgorzata Michalczuk


This paper focuses on the effects of activating expected self as compared to the effects of activating the ought self. The expected self is a component of self-knowledge that pertains to the perception of one’s capabilities and potentials. Two experimental studies compared participants’ task performance after manipulating the momentary accessibility of the expected self vs. the ought self. In Study 1, contrary to expectations, the activation of the expected self resulted in poorer outcomes when the task required sustained attention. However, an interesting mood difference was revealed, which led us to hypothesise that activating the expected self results in slower (i.e., less hasty) work while performing the task. This hypothesis was confirmed in the second study.