Four dimensions of self-defining memories (specificity, meaning, content, and affect) and their relationships to self-restraint, distress, and repressive defensiveness.J Pers. 2004 Jun; 72(3):481-511.JP
This study examines four dimensions of self-defining memory (specificity, meaning, content, and affect) and their relationship to self-restraint, distress, and defensiveness. The development and validation of a protocol for measuring specificity, meaning, and affect in self-defining memories is discussed. Specificity is operationalized as the temporal and detailed specificity of the narrative. Meaning refers to the participant's stepping back from the narrative to derive higher personal meaning or a life lesson. Affect reflects subjective emotion upon recall. Agreement between two raters scoring 1040 memories was kappa=.83 for specificity and kappa=.72 for meaning. The protocol is compatible with Thorne and McLean's scoring system for content (the types of events in memories). The current study compared individual differences in the four dimensions of 10 self-defining memories collected from 103 undergraduates to scores of self-restraint, distress, and repressive defensiveness, as measured by the Weinberger Adjustment Inventory. Memory specificity was inversely related to repressive defensiveness, while greater memory meaning was linked to moderate and high levels of self-restraint. Memory content and affect predicted individuals' degree of subjective distress. Based on these findings, the authors discuss the place of self-defining memories in Conway and Pleydell-Pearce's Self-Memory System model of autobiographical memory and personality, more generally.