The events and experiences related in the study were wide-ranging. Negative events included losing possessions, failing a course, physical assault, and death of a loved one. Positive events included saving money for a purchase and falling in love. Regardless of how outsiders may rate the events, self-defining memories are significant to the person and are emotionally complex. The authors explain, "When people report that an event has had a big impact on them, it probably indicates that they have thought a lot about the event, tried to make sense of the event, and attempted to fit that life event into their own personal history." To understand the event, individuals may examine it in terms of how it contributes positively to their lives while downplaying the negative.
This article is published in the June issue of the Journal of Personality. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Journal of Personality publishes scientific investigations in the field of personality. It focuses particularly on personality and behavior dynamics, personality development, and individual differences in the cognitive, affective, and interpersonal domains.
Wendy-Jo Wood is a clinical psychologist (candidate register) working at the Nova Scotia Hospital in Halifax. She works with clients who are challenged with both a developmental disability and a mental illness. This research was part of Dr. Wood's doctoral dissertation. Dr. Wood is available for media questions and interviews.
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