Chapter Summary

Chapter 23

In this chapter we have tried to address poor Alice’s dilemma in answering the question – who are you? The earliest psychologists thought that it was a fundamental matter for psychology to investigate and devise theories that answered questions in their own terms and not those of the philosophers or playwrights (though Shakespeare did a good job). We have considered the main ways that, over the last 60 years or so, approaches have been successful, but have in turn raised further issues: of methodology, ontology, levels of explanation and real-world usefulness. We have also shown that recent studies have moved away from the traditional understanding of self as a fixed ‘thing’ that is ‘real’ or ‘true’, towards self as being produced through interactions that take place in specific cultural, political, social, temporal, geographic and, increasingly, virtual contexts or digital spaces. We see that psychological research can be interdisciplinary and provide useful understandings for people about ourselves in an increasingly technological world.