The Immutable Likeness of "Being": Experiencing the Self as Timeless

Christopher T. Burris, Fabio Sani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Three studies explored the structure and correlates of the Immutable Self (IS) scale, intended to measure individual differences in the propensity for experiences typified by a sense that the conscious self is timeless, predating conception and surviving death, and therefore not contingent upon being incarnate. IS was linked to aversion to the spatial and temporal limitations of physical existence, a propensity for self-transcendence, and interest in activities framed as facilitating the latter. Higher versus lower IS scorers perceived death to be mysterious but rejected the idea that it heralds complete annihilation of the self. Higher IS was linked to a greater willingness to self-identify with a religious group and to embrace a spiritual/religious motivation to transcend boundaries (immanence orientation). When the salience of the body was increased via incidental mirror exposure, higher IS scores predicted less condemnation of an individual who made a decision that shortened his life. A propensity for IS experiences may therefore have a profound impact on how people deal with the limitations inherent in physical existence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-103
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal for the Psychology of Religion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • General Psychology


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