The Fallacy of the Private‐Public Self‐Focus Distinction

Robert A. Wicklund, Peter M. Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ABSTRACT Taking the distinction between Aristotelian and Galilean modes of thought (Lewin, 1931) as a background, the bifurcation of the self‐focus concept into “private” and “public” types of self‐focus is discussed critically A theoretical connection between the private‐public distinction and other central concepts within the self‐awareness literature is found to be lacking Further, it is found that (a) the relation between the theoretical definitions of “private” and “public” and their respective empirical definitions is not explicated, that (b) the public half of the dichotomy does not involve a focus of attention toward or away from the self, and perhaps most important, that (c) the conceptual work surrounding the private‐public distinction illustrates how an Aristotelian approach to theorizing prevents the raising of pertinent questions

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-523
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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