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Oleg Urminsky and Daniel Bartels

How do people think about whether the person they will be in the future is substantially the same person they will be today, or substantially different, and how does this affect consumer decisions and behavior? This chapter discusses several perspectives about which changes over time matter for these judgments and downstream behaviors, including the identity verification principle: people’s willful change in the direction of an identity that they hope to fulfill. The authors’ read of the literature on the self-concept suggests that what defines a person (to themselves) is multifaceted and in almost constant flux, but that understanding how personal changes relate to one’s own perceptions of personal continuity, including understanding the distinction between changes that are consistent or inconsistent with people’s expectations for their own development, can help us to understand people’s subjective sense of self and the decisions and behaviors that follow from it.