The self consists of three temporal dimensions: who we were in the past (past self), who we are presently (current self), and who we will be in the future (future self). Correspondingly, temporal identity (TI) can be characterized as the constellation of self-associations with, and interrelationships among, the past, current and future selves. Considering TI through the lens of the identity association principle, the author proposes that the disparate TI phenomena documented in the consumer behavior and psychology literatures are a key source of positive self-esteem that consumers transfer to self-associated stimuli. Specifically, consumers self-enhance by perceiving themselves as improving and selectively attending to desirable aspects of their past and future selves. In turn, this self-enhancement powers identity association effects. In addition to discussing the implications for both consumers and brands, the author identifies key priorities for future research.
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