Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries

Applying Financial Portfolio Theory to Model the Organization of the Self-Concept

Published in: Journal of Research in Personality, v. 41, no. 2, Apr. 2007, p. 346-373

Posted on on January 01, 2007

by Siddharth Chandra, William G. Shadel

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Portfolio theory (from the field of finance) provides an explicit means for understanding the relationship between individual components of a complex system and their relationship to the overall structure and behavior of that system over time. This paper models the self-concept as a portfolio (self-portfolio) composed of multiple self-schemas of differing degrees of evaluative valence. The self-schemas are organized according to their mean level of activation over time and their associated variability of activation over time. Using simulation data (Study 1) and also daily self-ratings provided by a sample of college students (n = 65) collected via the internet over a 60 day interval (Study 2), the organizational structure of the individual self-schemas and their mean levels of variability in activation over time are shown to give rise to the overall evaluative valence of the self-concept and the way in which it changes over time. Implications of applying models from outside of psychology to study phenomena of interest to scientific psychology are discussed.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.