Inferences about Authentic Self: When do Actions Say More Than Mental States?


The article examines the perceived relevance of mental states versus observable actions in an attempt to reveal the ‘true self.’ The theoretical question or issue of the research is determining how mental states and observable actions reveal a person’s nature. The study begins with a hypothesis that the nature of people can be revealed from their observable actions more that the mental states in an effort to reveal the true self. The study approach targeted to test the hypothesis based on the research findings. The study was aimed at examining the importance of actions that are observable compared with mental states. The study explores a psychological issue in observing human behaviors. The approach is effective to explain how it can be possible to understand human nature based on mental state and observable actions.


To achieve the intended results, the researchers used to approaches or methods for this study. The research method targeted undergraduate students to examine their observations and perceptions regarding human behaviors and nature. The basic experimental test adopted two approaches. The first study used a ‘verb type’ to determine the responds from the targeted persons. This was adopted to generate attributions and dispositions. The second study relied on counterbalancing for the congruence across the identified verb types. This approach was necessary towards reflective of human deductive reasoning. The two studies were done to support each other and help to come up with useful findings for the discussions.

Results and Conclusions

From the results, it was observed and suggested that, when people are presented with some form of limited ideas and information concerning an individual, they strongly believe that an actions tends to be diagnostic and depictive of a person’s self. This is the case compared with the mental state of the individual when compared with behavioral patterns. From the study, it is notable that when the participants had some knowledge about the dispositional and chronic tendencies, it was observed that the chronic mental conditions tends to be more diagnostic of the person’s true self than the mental state. These findings have related effectively with the hypothesis stated in the introduction.

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My Reactions

After reading this article, I have acquainted myself with past studies about the psychological implications of human behaviors and depiction of true self. I believe that the work is informative because it presents to the reader some useful information about the issue of authentic self. The results and discussions from the study have indicated that people tend to conceptualize their personal true self through their observable actions.

In overall, the article is very interesting because the authors have relied on an effective approach and study design. This has also been similar about the psychological studies and topics we have covered in class. This helps the reader to understand how our observational actions are relevant in understanding more about people rather than concentrating on their mental state. The article also examines something greater about human behavioral changes and perceptions and how the self can be clearly understood about different persons.


Johnson, J., Mitchell, E. & Robison, M. (2004). Inferences About Authentic Self: When do Actions Say More Than Mental States? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(5), 615-630.

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