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Two versions of life: emotionally negative and positive life events have different roles in the organization of life story and identity.

dc.contributor.author Berntsen, Dorthe
dc.contributor.author Rubin, David C
dc.contributor.author Siegler, Ilene C
dc.coverage.spatial United States
dc.date.accessioned 2015-05-12T14:54:50Z
dc.date.issued 2011-10
dc.identifier http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875191
dc.identifier 2011-19041-001
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9783
dc.description.abstract Over 2,000 adults in their sixties completed the Centrality of Event Scale (CES) for the traumatic or negative event that now troubled them the most and for their most positive life event, as well as measures of current PTSD symptoms, depression, well-being, and personality. Consistent with the notion of a positivity bias in old age, the positive events were judged to be markedly more central to life story and identity than were the negative events. The centrality of positive events was unrelated to measures of PTSD symptoms and emotional distress, whereas the centrality of the negative event showed clear positive correlations with these measures. The centrality of the positive events increased with increasing time since the events, whereas the centrality of the negative events decreased. The life distribution of the positive events showed a marked peak in young adulthood whereas the life distribution for the negative events peaked at the participants' present age. The positive events were mostly events from the cultural life script-that is, culturally shared representations of the timing of major transitional events. Overall, our findings show that positive and negative autobiographical events relate markedly differently to life story and identity. Positive events become central to life story and identity primarily through their correspondence with cultural norms. Negative events become central through mechanisms associated with emotional distress.
dc.language eng
dc.publisher American Psychological Association (APA)
dc.relation.ispartof Emotion
dc.relation.isversionof 10.1037/a0024940
dc.subject Adaptation, Psychological
dc.subject Emotions
dc.subject Female
dc.subject Humans
dc.subject Life Change Events
dc.subject Male
dc.subject Memory, Episodic
dc.subject Middle Aged
dc.subject Personality Inventory
dc.subject Psychological Tests
dc.subject Self Concept
dc.title Two versions of life: emotionally negative and positive life events have different roles in the organization of life story and identity.
dc.type Journal article
duke.contributor.id Rubin, David C|0096042
duke.contributor.id Siegler, Ilene C|0097025
pubs.author-url http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875191
pubs.begin-page 1190
pubs.end-page 1201
pubs.issue 5
pubs.organisational-group Clinical Science Departments
pubs.organisational-group Duke
pubs.organisational-group Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
pubs.organisational-group Institutes and Provost's Academic Units
pubs.organisational-group Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
pubs.organisational-group Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Behavioral Medicine
pubs.organisational-group Psychology and Neuroscience
pubs.organisational-group School of Medicine
pubs.organisational-group Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
pubs.organisational-group University Institutes and Centers
pubs.publication-status Published
pubs.volume 11
dc.identifier.eissn 1931-1516


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