Life scripts help to maintain autobiographical memories of highly positive, but not highly negative, events.
A representative sample of 1,307 respondents between the ages of 20 and 94 was asked how old they were when they felt most afraid, most proud, most jealous, most in love, and most angry. They were also asked when they had experienced their most important event and whether this event was positive or negative. In general, there was a reminiscence "bump" for positive but not negative events. To provide data on life scripts, 87 psychology students answered the same questions for a hypothetical 70-year-old. The undergraduates were more confident in dating positive than in dating negative events, and when they were confident, the distribution of responses predicted the survey data. The results support the idea of culturally shared life scripts for positive but not negative events, which structure retrieval processes and spaced practice.
- Rubin, DC; Berntsen, D
- January 2003