Date of Award

10-19-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Scoboria, Alan

Keywords

Affect, Autobiographical Memory, Mental Focus, Self-Concept, Transitional Impact

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

This study investigated how focusing on the concrete details (experience focus) versus broader life significance (coherence focus) of valenced transitions influences appraisals of event impact, self-relevance, and present affect. Participants selected a past event characterized by positive versus negative personal change and rated aspects of emotion during recall (valence, intensity, and reference point). They described the event using an experience or coherence focus and provided ratings on affect, impact, self-relevance, and memory characteristics. Cognitive emotion regulation and preference for abstraction were explored. A coherence (vs. experience) focus produced ratings of lower negative affect and higher psychological impact and self-change for negative, but not positive, events. The negative-coherence group shifted the most toward positive emotion. Positive (vs. negative) events incited appraisals of greater positive affect, material impact, centrality/importance, self-blame, and lower need for acceptance. A coherence focus is thought to facilitate adaptive self-reflection via the reconciliation of personally salient negative transitions.

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