1 BEING ME OVER TIME: THE SELF CONTINUITY FUNCTION OF AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY IN ADULTHOOD By H siao Wen L iao A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2017
2 2017 Hsiao Wen Liao
3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my advisor and mentor, Dr. Susan Bluck. I cannot say in words how much I appreciate the amount of time and energy she has devoted to advancing my professional development. I thank her for her constructive fee dback, genuine interest in exchanging research ideas, and effort made to look out for my best interests I thank her for her friendship. I would also like to thank Dr. Ching Ling Cheng who brought me into academia. I appreciate her warm support during some tough times in my life. I would also link to thank the members of my supervisory committee Drs. M. Jeffery Farrar, Tanya Koropeckyj Cox Greg J. Neimeyer I appreciate their service and comments on initial drafts of my dissertation project. I am also very grateful to have Dr s Julia Graber and Robin L. throughout my doctoral training Given the scope and analytic al approach of the project, I must also acknowledge the undergraduate resea rch assistants in the Life Story Lab W ithout them the timely completion of the dissertation would not be possible I would especially like to acknowledge the Maurice C. Holmes and Frances A. Holmes Endowed Dissertation Fellowship, Jacquelin Goldman Dissertation Fellowship and Madelyn Lockhart Dissertation Fellowship for funding this dissertation project
4 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 3 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 11 Maintaining Self continuity: One Function of Autobiographical Memory ................. 13 The RAM SC Model ................................ ................................ ......................... 13 Using Different Types of Autobiographical Reasoning to Forge Self Continuity ..... 16 Autobiographical R easoning: Self stability ................................ ....................... 17 Autobiographical Reasoning: Self change ................................ ........................ 18 Evidence that Autobiographical Reasoning Relates to Self continuity ............. 18 Unanswered Questions: Considerations for the Current Research .................. 20 Maintaining Self Continuity: A Lifespan Developmental Perspective ...................... 21 A Lifespan View of Experiencing Self continuity ................................ ............... 22 Age Differences in the Experience of Self continuity ................................ ........ 23 Age Differ ences in Autobiographical Reasoning ................................ .............. 24 Issues for Consideration in the Current Study ................................ .................. 27 Specific Aims and Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ............... 28 Aim 1: Test Adult Age Differences in Global Self continuity ............................. 28 Aim 2: Test Adult Age Differences in Autobiographical Reasoning .................. 29 Aim 3: Test Autobiographical Reasoning and Self Concept Clarity as Mediators between Age Group and Global Self Continuity ........................... 29 Aim 4: Explore Whether the Interaction between Age Group and Autobiographical Reasoning Predicts Global Self Continuity ........................ 30 2 METHOD ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 31 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 31 Procedures ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 32 Recruitment ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 32 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ 32 Autobiographical Memory Task ................................ ................................ ........ 34 Measures ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 37 Dementia Screening ................................ ................................ ......................... 37 Demographics ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 38 Cognitive Ability ................................ ................................ ................................ 38 Self concept Clarity ................................ ................................ .......................... 39
5 Global Self continuity ................................ ................................ ....................... 39 Manipu lation Checks ................................ ................................ ........................ 40 Memory Vividness ................................ ................................ ............................ 41 Autobiographical Reasoning: Self stability and Self change ............................ 41 3 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 45 Preliminary Analyses ................................ ................................ .............................. 45 Manipulation Checks ................................ ................................ ........................ 45 Administration Order ................................ ................................ ........................ 46 Potential Covariates ................................ ................................ ......................... 46 Major Analyses ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 48 Aim 1: Age Dif ferences in Global Self continuity ................................ .............. 48 Aim 2: Age Differences in Autobiographical Reasoning ................................ ... 49 Aim 3: The Mediating Role of Autobiographical Reasoning and Self concept Clarity ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 52 Aim 4: The Interaction of Age Group and Autobiographical Reasoning ........... 54 4 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 60 Experiencing Self continuity in Emerging and Older Adulthood .............................. 62 Accounting for Age Differences in Global Self continuity ................................ ........ 63 Self concept Clarity: A Mediating Path ................................ ............................. 64 Autobiographical Reasoning in Challenging Life Events: An Uncharted Path .. 66 The Life Phase Specific Role of Autobiograph ical Reasoning ................................ 67 Reasoning: Stability and Change Themes in Memories of Challenging Events ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 68 Reasoning: Stability and Change Themes in Emerging and Older Adulthood .. 70 Revisiting the RAM SC Model ................................ ................................ ................ 74 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 76 Assessing Age differential Motivations ................................ ............................. 76 Assessing Autobiographical Reasoning ................................ ........................... 77 Cross sectional Design ................................ ................................ .................... 78 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 79 APPENDIX A AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY TASK INSTRUCTIONS ................................ .... 82 B LIFE EXPERIENCES SURVEY ................................ ................................ .............. 85 C CODING MANUAL FOR AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL REASONING USING SELF STABILITY AND SELF CHANGE IN CHALLENGING AND NON CHALLENGING MEMORY NARRATIVES ................................ ............................. 87 D ORIENTATION MEMORY CONCENTRATION TEST ................................ ............ 91 E COGNITIVE ABILITY ................................ ................................ .............................. 92
6 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 94 BIOGRAPHICAL SKE TCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 102
7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Coding stability and change: examples from the narratives ............................... 43 3 1 Correlations among age, autobiographical reasoning, global self continuity, and potential covar iates ................................ ................................ ...................... 56 3 2 Correlations among age, self stability and self change in challenging memories, and two aspects of global sel f continuity ................................ ........... 56 3 3 Unstandardized coefficients and standard errors of variables of interest ........... 57 3 4 Summary of moderated mediation analyses ................................ ...................... 58
8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 Summary of multiple mediation analyses tested. ................................ ............... 57 3 2 Illustration of the moderated mediation models tested. ................................ ...... 58 3 3 Moderation effects of age on the relation between self change in challenging memories and core continuity ................................ ................................ ............. 59
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy BEING ME OVER TIME: THE SELF CONTINUITY FUNCTION OF AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY IN ADULTHOOD By Hsiao Wen Liao May 2017 Chair: Susan Bluck Major: Psychology Having a continuous sense of self over time is fundamental to the human experience. This experience of being me is implicit and often goes unnoticed b y the individual but involves complex processes that are not well delineated. The current study integrates the functional approach to autobiographical memory (e.g., Bluck & Liao, 2013) and lifespan developmental theory (e.g., Baltes, 1997) to examine the i nterrelations among age (i.e., emerging and older adults), autobiographical reasoning presented in life event narratives, self concept clarity, and having a global experience of self continuity. Participants are 187 emerging adults (N = 99; ages 18 23) an d older adults (N = 88; ages 61 92). They completed measures assessing global self continuity (i.e., point of view continuity and core continuity) and self concept clarity. They then completed the Autobiographical Memory Task, orally sharing events that oc curred in the last six years. Each shared two challenging life events and, for comparison, two non challenging life events. All memory narratives were reliably coded for autobiographical reasoning
10 (Habermas & Bluck, 2000) in terms of self stability and sel f change themes (Pasupathi et al., 2007). Findings show that older adults have a stronger sense of global self continuity (i.e., point of view continuity and core continuity) than emerging adults. Older adults also have greater self concept clarity and th is, in part, explains how they maintain greater self continuity than emerging adults. Levels of autobiographical reasoning were higher in challenging than non challenging autobiographical memory narratives, regardless of age. As compared to older adults, h owever, emerging adults show more self change in challenging but not non challenging memory narratives. Additionally, narrating self change in challenging memories is a liability for experiencing a sense of self continuity in older adulthood. Self change t hemes in challenging memories are related to lower core continuity, only for older adults. This study contributes to both the adult development and autobiographical memory literature. The findings help to articulate self and memory processes that foster a nd hinder the experience of self continuity at different points in adulthood. Findings are discussed in terms of a lifespan developmental perspective on motivation across adulthood.
11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Self continuity is a fundamental human experience It refers to the subjective sens e of being the same person over time regardless of change life circumstances (Bluck & Alea, 2008). The importance of having a continuous sense of se lf has been well documented : it helps individuals cop e with life difficulties ( Sadeh & Karniol, 2012) and acts as a pr otective factor f or mental health (Chandler & Proulx, 2008). This stud y examines the experience of self continuity in emerging and older adulthood. The central research question is : how do adults maintain a subjective sense of being the same person at different points in the lifespan and in particular wh e n facing challenging events? Note that self continuity is diachronic, referring to on The current research focus es solely on continuity between the present self and the personal past, the life already lived (Erikson, 19 8 0 ). Among various mechanisms that help individuals mainta in the experience of self continuity (for a review see Sani, 2008), researchers argue that self continuity is highly dependent on and indeed a function of (Bluck & Alea 200 2 ), autobiographical memory ( Prebble, Addis, & Tippett, 2013 ). O ur conceptual model Role of A utobiographical Memory in Self C ontinuity (RAM SC; Bluck & Liao, 2013) illustrates how a sense of self continuity is maintained by, on one level, chronological records experiences stored in personal memory and, at a second level, retrospective autobiographical reasoning (Habermas & Bluck, 2000) about those memories. Since these memory mechanisms are in place, a sense of self continuity is usually seamlessly experience d and is seldom consciously noticed in e veryday life. This
12 continuity however, can be disrupted by challenging life events (Habermas & Kber, 2015 b ) such as accident, illness or loss of a loved one. Researchers argue that w hen sense of self continuity is challenged autobiographical reasoning is required in order to re forge the sense of self continuity (Bluck & Liao, 2013 ; Habermas & Kber, 2015a ) Th is line of thinking and the RAM SC model provide a basis for the current research While the RAM SC model (Bluck & Lia o, 2013) delineates how autobiographical memory serves a self continuity function it does not explicitly take a developmental approach. The current study thus combines the functional approach to autobiographical memory with the lifespan perspective ( Balte s, 1987, 199 7 ) A cross adulthood development shifts from developing a sense of self to maintaining what has been developed (Atchley, 1999; Brandtstdter & Greve, 1994 ; McAdams & Olson, 2010 ). Given that developmental context plays a critical role in the functional use of autobiographical memory ( Bluck, Alea, & Demiray, 2010 ; should provide a distinct context for autobiographic al reasonin g to serve the func ti on of experiencing self continuity. The major contribution of the current study is test ing the interrelations between autobiograp hical reasoning in the face of challenge (i.e., life events that threaten sense of self ) self concept clarity, and the experience of self continuity in two adult age groups The relations between these factors have been theorized (Bluck & Liao, 2013; Pasupathi, Mansour, & Brubaker, 2007) but to date, research is sparse and has only tested th ese relations separately (e.g., Habermas & Kber, 2015a ; Ritchie Sedikides,
13 A rndt, & Gidron 2011 ) Thus, b oth theoretical and some empirical groundwork has been laid for examining the interrelation of all these constr ucts using more complex modeling procedures. Maintaining Self continuity: One Function of Autobiographical Memory S elf continuity has been theorized as a basic function of autobiographical memory for decades ( Baddeley, 1988; Bluck & Alea, 2002; Pillemer, 200 9) Only recently however, have researchers aiming to elucidate self continuity (e.g., Prebble et al., 2013 ) based their work explicitly on autobiographical memory theories (e.g., Conway & Pleydell Pearce, 2000 ; Conway Singer, & Tagini, 2004 ; Tulving 20 05 ). We have also addressed this in our Role of Autobiographical Memory in Self continuity model (RAM SC; Bluck & Liao, 2013). Th e model states that use of autobiographical memory and particularly autobiographical reasoning (Habermas & Bluck, 2000) is critical in maintaining a sense of self continuity in the face of challenging l ife events that disrupt the self. Autobiographical reasoning involves interpretative thinking or talking about personal life events. It allows individuals to reframe and make s ense of their past events in ways that create coheren ce with To provide a rationale for the current study aims the next section gives an overview of the RAM SC model (Bluck & Liao, 2013) and summarizes past res earch relating autobiographical reasoning to self continuity. The RAM SC Model T he RAM SC model (Bluck & Liao, 2013) theorizes that autobiographical memory plays a role in the two levels of experiential self continuity: chronological and retrospective. Th at is, the subjective sense of being the same person over time know that the person I remember being as
14 a child is who I am today chronological self continuity understand that I have been the same person over time despite all the time that has passed and all the events that have occurred in my life (i. e., retrospective self continuity ). These two types of self continuity occur in tandem. The two level conceptu alization of self continuity i s based on memory retrieval process outlined in the Self Memory System model (SMS; Conway et al., 2004) the most prominent model of the organization of autobiographical memory (Baddeley, 2012) According to the SMS model the retrieval of autobiographical memory involves interactions between the episodic memory system and the long term self. Based on this, the RAM SC model theorizes that differential involvement of the long term self during memory retrieval produces the two levels of experienc ed self conti nuity. Though both are described below, the focus of th e current research is on retrospective self continuity : how people understand themselves as continuous across events, even ones that challenge the self Chronological self continuity Supported by memo ry records (i.e., episodic memory), chronological self continuity provides a basic sense of being the same person over time. That is one knows that the person they were as a child is also, literally, the person they are today. The long term self is only m arginally involved in this retrieval process, and the force of correspondence with lived reality ( i.e., correspondence versus coherence; Conway et al., 2004) is dominant. The existence of own personal past as a child is effortlessly recognized with the support of memory records me At this level, s a sense of chronological self continuity. This is experienced as an effortless sense of knowing via autobiogra
15 Developmentally, basic self recognition in childhood (Howe & Courage, 1997 ; Harter, 2012 ) and normative development of an understanding of temporality in relation to the self (Friedman, Re ese, & Dai, 2011 ; Povinelli & Simon, 1998 ) may be the minimum requirements for experiencing chronological self continuity. The maintenance of a chronological sense of self is resilient even in the face of environmental threats and change. Retrospective sel f continuity Supported by both memory records and developed self knowledge (i.e., the long term self; Conway et al., 2004), retrospective self continuity enables a higher level understanding of being me over time. That is, the long term self is more fully involved in the memory retrieval process. The principle of memories are relevant to their personal motives (e.g., agency) those memories are structured in accord with the lo ng term self. A retrospective sense of self continuity is maintained as individuals constructively organ ize memories about the past in way s that fit their current self understanding In particular, the life story schema (Bluck & Habermas, 2000), the highes t level of autobiographical knowledge in the long term self (Conway et al., 2004), plays a larger role in maintaining retrospective self continuity. which selective life e vents are stored experiences (Bluck & Habermas, 2000). The schema guides how individuals remember their life experiences. Aside from the simple act of autobiographical remembering, the maintenance of retrospective self continuity also involve s higher level social cognitive processing that
16 is, autobiographical reasoning (Habermas & Bluck, 2000). Autobiographical reasoning refers to interpretative process 2013). It involves autobiographical recall but also reflective thinking about the personal past. This creates a rich individualized sense of continuity of the self over time It is a relatively effortful u connected life story that is experienced via both remembering and reasoning that links together events and experiences over time R etrospective self continuity is c onstructed and reconstructed through reasoning. Th is allows a flexible, dynamically evolving sense of continuity This flexibility also experience of self continuity can be subject to environmental threats and situational cha llenges Challenging life events (e.g., major illness loss of j ob ), for example, may disrupt the retrospective sense of self continuity. It is vital for adults of any age to be able to resolve a sense of personal dis continuity when it arises. As such, the current study focuses on the maintenance of retrospective sense of self continuity in the face of challenge in two adult age groups Specifically, this study examines retrospective sense of global self continuity, that is, an overall feeling of being the same person over long periods of time (see also, Hab erma s & Kber, 2015a ; Sedikides, Wildschut, Routledge, & Arndt 201 4 ) Using Different Types of Autobiographical Reasoning to Forg e Self Continuity that diminish established sel f continuity. I n the RAM SC model (Bluck & Liao, 2013), we claim that when the sense of continuity is disrupted autobiographical reasoning is required to re forge self continuity. Through reasoning, individuals make sense of experience s in their lives cr eat ing causal links or associations between the self and
17 those experiences. Across adulthood, individuals become increasingly skilled in using autobiographical reasoning to connect their life experiences into a coherent life story (McAdams, 2013 ) that bridg es the past and present self There are various aspects of autobiographical reasoning (for a review see McAdams & McLean, 2013). Among these, autobiographical reasoning that creates self event connections is theorized to play a critical role in maintaining self continuity ( Pasupathi et al., 2007 ). Self event c onnections foster continuity as they a re ways in which the individual explicitly tie s past events to the current self, either by explicitly recognizing how they have remained stable acro ss an event or series of events, or by explain ing how the self has change d through life experiences (Pasupathi et al., 2007) By creating these self event connections in their retrospective thinking about life individuals integrate even challenging life events into a coherent life story thereby creating the perception of a continuous trajectory of self over time. Autobiographical R easoning : S elf stabilit y This type of self event connection involves assimilating events into existing repr esentations of the self (Habermas, 2011) that is, describing a past event in terms of how it links to a stable self conception that has existed for some time (Pasupathi et al., 2007) This may be particularly important when one faces life events that shak e or challenge As Bauer and Bonanno (2001) suggested reasoning about challenging life events (e.g., death of a husband) that focuses on stable self conceptions is a transformative process It allow s individuals to carry forward valued aspects of the self across discrete and sometimes disturbing life events. Pasupathi et al. (2007 ) suggest that i ndividuals can maintain a sense o f self continuity through self stability reasoning by reasoning how the ev ent acts as an
18 endors ement of an already developed self conception (e.g., Yes, I have always been a very strong person) or by dismiss ing a non conforming aspect of the self from a past event In t heir established coding manual for self defining memories Singer and Blagov (2000 ) also suggest a type of autobiographical reasoning focused on stability In other words individuals can incorporate a past event into the current self by indicating ongoing significance of the event to the sel f (e.g., And to this day I have always been proud of how I dealt with that how I stood up for myself). Autobiographical R easoning : S elf change One can also bridge the past and present by explaining how a pa st event has le d to self change. Pasupathi et al. (2007 ) describe how discontinuity can be mended throu gh autobiographical reasoning that explain s how differently as a result of a past event, or how an unknown part of the self was revealed through reflection o f a n e xperience challenging life events, comprehend ing t he inf luence of those events on the self developing a story of what has happened and how one has changed, is critical. Iron ically, a sense of self continuity is forged when one resolves tensions (e.g., I realized that though I m basically a nice person I can also become quite vicious if I m really pushed) or can clearly trace changes (e.g., I was young and nave then but I see now that I need a more realistic view to get through life) between the personal past and present self (Habermas, 2011) Evidence that A utobiographical R easoning R elates to S elf continuity Though p rominent theories converge on the idea that auto biographical memory serves the function of maintain ing a sense of self continuity, d irect empirical research is
19 sparse (Prebble et al., 2013). T he two known studies are reviewed here Adopting qualitative method Bauer and Bonanno (2001) show the utility of autobiographical reasoning in forging self continuity in a sample (N = 36 ) of middle aged adults who had recently lost their spouse The y found that the reasoning process allow ed the bereaved to transform their view of self in the face of loss. A woman for example, re forg es continuity after the loss of her husband, who was among many things, her long standing golf partner. The woman gave up golf when her husband died At first, the participant felt that she had lost her old self and was just not a golfer any more However, she then realized that she indeed had continuity through reasoning that focused on self stability I that we did together, and I can do them well and enjoy them and have a good time. (Bauer & Bonanno, 2001, p. 139). Their f indings suggest that a sense of self continu ity can be maintained when one us es self event connections t o recognize the self has stable qualities before and after a loss T hough this work provides insights, t he purely qualitative design limits the generalizability of the findings. Using a lifespan s ample ( N = 150 ; 16 69 years), Habermas and Kber (201 5a ) conducted the first study testing this relationship with a mix methods design (i.e., content analysis and quantitative analysis). They found a positive association between autobiographical reasoning events and a global sense of self continuity. Note that this association only appeared in adults who had experienced extensive life changes in the past four years though suggesting that actively maintaining self continuity only becomes ne cessary under
20 significant distress. B oth findings are consistent with autobiographical memory literature (e.g., Bluck & Liao, 2013; Habermas & Kber, 2015 b ), su pporting the critical role of autobiographical reasoning in reinterpreting life challenges for regain ing a sense of self continuity. Unanswered Questions : C onsideration s for the C urrent R esearch 5a ) study leaves some questions unanswered. First, the majority of adults who had experienced life changes were young people (i.e., only two older adults in the extreme group) implying that the positive association between autobiographical reasoning and self continuity may apply to young but not ol der adults. T he study may have suffered from a mismatch in the differential timeframe measurement of autobiographical reasoning in events being recalled ( i.e., from across a lifetime) and self continuity ( i.e., o ver last four years). O lder adults are simply due to years lived, able to recall more distal events than the young. Their reasoning about those distal events may thus be less relevant to the ir recent (i.e., last four years) self continuity. Emerging adults in contrast, are likely to recall events that happened over the last four to ten years and their reasoning concerning those events is thereby likely to link more closely to their current self continuity T he current study addresses th ese issue s by recrui ting an age balanced sample fix ing the timeframe of events to be recalled and having the ratings of self continuity at six years in both age groups. All participants recall life events that happened in the past six years and rate thei r self continuity over the last six years. Secondly, though Habermas and Kber (201 5a ) findings (i.e., an association found only in those who experienced significant life changes) suggest th at autobiographical reasoning may be more critical to the sense of self continuity when
21 recall ing challenging life events, they did not test this assumption by comparing recall of significant and everyday (i.e., more mundane ) events. T he current study collects both challenging life events (i.e., negative events that challenged the self ) and non challenging life events (i.e., everyday life events produced in response to neutral cue words ). The inclusion of non challenging event s allows testing the claim that autobiographical reasoning is critical to self continuity par ticularly when one face s li fe challenges. T hough a positive association between autobiographical reasoning and a sen s e of self continuity is expected regardless of type of memory the link should be stronger for challenging memories than for non challengi ng autobiographical memories Third, past research (e.g., Habermas & Kber 2015a ) did not differentiate self stability from self change. Theories a rgue that both of these aspects of autobiographical reasoning foster a sense of self continuity (e.g., Habermas, 20 1 1 ; Pasupathi et al. 2007 ) This issue has not been empirically explored and t he view tha t using both self stability and self change equally foster s a sense of self continuity does not take into account the possibi lity of developmental shifts i n autobiographical reasoning S hifts in motivation from growth in younger adulthood to maintenance later in adult years (e.g., Baltes, 19 9 7; Brandtstdter & Greve 199 4 ) may necessitate differentially use of self change and self stability reasoning As such, t he present study examines the two aspects individually (i.e., self stability, self change) in relation to emerging and experience of self continuity. The study is thereby aligned with a lifespan developmental view of maintainin g self continuity. Maintaining Self Continuity : A Lifespan Developmental Perspective As Chandler and Proulx (2008) point out, the issue of self continuity emerges when individuals transit from one st age or circumstance to another. Across adulthood
22 i ndivid uals continue to make transitions and face life challenges. For example, young people in modern society experience prolonged transitional years in emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2000) before transitioning to adulthood I ndividuals in late adulthood experience developmental transitions as they encounter the task of preserving gains and preventing losses (Baltes, 19 9 7). As such, the maintenance of self continuity is theorized to be an important issue across adulthood in the RAM SC model (Bluck & Liao, 2013) Th e current study further delineates the model by using lifespan theories (i.e., continuity theory; Atchley, 1999; intentional self development; Brandtstdter, 1999) to make predict ions about how self continuity may be differentially maintained in emerging and older adults. To provide a rationale for study aims the next section integrates the functional approach to autobiographical memory with lifespan theories to elucidate how age m ight affect the experience of self continuity and also the use of aut obiographical reasoning to serve th e function of maintaining such continuity A Lifespan View of Experiencing Self continuity Movement across the adult lifespan entails motivational changes from striving for growth to focus ing on growth but also clearly o n maintenance and loss prevention (Baltes, 1987, 19 9 7). In the realm of self development, maintaining a sense of self continuity becomes increasingly important across adulthood. Brandtstdter (1999), for example, argues that self maintenance is an importan t form of self development in late adulthood. He contends that t he basic vectors of intentional self development shift from expansion or self actualization toward maintenance and defense of established self nuity Theory (Atchley, 1999) also supports this view. It argues that the established self can be viewed as an investment that people
23 have actively shaped across adulthood. The established self thus becomes a central investment that individuals are motivate d to keep secure in the second half of life. The need to hold a sense of self continuity is also important for emerging adults as identity (Habermas & Bluck, 2000) As compared to later in adult life, however, their need to maintain self continuity is likely less intense: they are more motivated to engage in self growth tasks such as id entity exploration (Arnett, 2000; Marcia, 1966 ) in tandem with self affirming sel f continuity (Atchley, 1999). Th ese life phase specif i c motivations also likely differentially prompt emerging and older adults to engage in autobiographical reasoning using self stability and self change. The RAM SC model (Bluck & Liao, 2013) argue s for the importance of using autobiographical reasoning to mend self continuity when it is challenged The model, however, does not indicate whether individuals in different adult life phases are likely to rely on different types of reasoning to make sense of l ife events. As t he functional approach to autobiographical memory indicates, human memory is not a static recorder but a dynamic changing system that allows individuals to respond to particular contextual demand s (Neisser 1997 ; Bluck et al., 2010 ) On s place in the lifespan is a unique ecological context (Bronfenbrenner, 1994) shaping the use of personal memories to maintain self continuity (e.g., Bluck & Alea ., 20 08 ). As such the current study examines whether there are age differences in using self stability versus self change to forge a sense of self continuity i n emerging and older adult hood. Age Differences in the Experience of Self continuity Lifespan theorists contend that individuals in later life are motivated to maintain high levels of self continuity. That is, c ompared to emerging adults, older adults should
24 experience a stronger sense of self continuity. Empirical research is limited but supports this claim. One rece nt study (Habermas & Kber, 2015a ) found that older adults held a stronger sense of continuity: they felt more connected with and familiar with their personal past than young people. Two other studies examining single adult groups suggest that older adults experience a continuous sense of self. One study assessed stability or change in personality in a large middle aged sample ( N = 2242 ; Herbst, McCrae, Jr. Costa, Feaganes, & Siegler, 2000 ). The majority of adults perceived t hat their overall personality had stayed about the same over the past six years, though some changes were identified Investigating the perceived continuity in adults over 85, Troll and Skaff ( N = 144; 1997) reported that 74% indicated they were the same p erson over time (i.e., no change). This pattern was replicated one year later in the same sample. In short, though older adults recognize changes in personality across time, they feel that at core they are the same person. In sum, t o provide additional em pirical evidence, the current study adopts two measures from past research ( i.e., Habermas & Kber, 201 5a ; S edikides et al., 2014) to examine age differences in a global, retrospective sense of self continuity in emerging and older adults Age Differences in A utobiographical Reasoning O ne potential contributor account ing continuity is the extent to which individuals are able to use autobiographical reasoning to structure past life events (Bluck & Liao, 2013; Habermas, 2011; McAdams, 2013; Pasupathi et al., 2007) Past studies generally show that older adults present more autobiographical reasoning in life narratives than emerging adults (e.g., integrativ e
25 meaning; Singer et al., 2007). T he use of self stability and self change have been theorized to be crucial to the experience of self continuity ( Pasupathi et al., 2007), even though empirical studies that specifically focus on autobiographical reasoning using self stabilit y and self chan ge are still limited The current study thus focuses on whether emerging and older adults differentially use self stability and self change to reason about their life experiences, and whether the se two aspects of autobiographica l reasoning account for the age differences in self continuity Three empirical studies directly examining age differences in overall self event connections or self stability and self change are reviewed Pasupathi and Mansour (2006) explicitly analyzed age dif ferences in self event connections in two lifespan samples but different patterns were found In the ir first study ( N = 63; 18 86 years ) they found a quadratic trend in memory narratives of personal crisis: m iddle aged adults produced more self event connections than young er adults, but a downward trend appeared in older adulthood. No age differences were found in memory narratives of turning points. In a second study ( N = 115; 18 89 years ) a linear age effec t was found : o lder adults more frequently create d self event connections than young er adults in personal memories of miscellaneous life events. McLean (2008) in contrast found no age differences in the overall production of self event connections in self defining memories between younger ( N = 85; 15 35 years) and older adults ( N = 49; 65 85 years) Instead, age differences were found when self stability and self change were separated from one another Compared to younger people older adults more frequently present autobiographical reasoning of self stability but less reasoning using self change
26 In a study that aimed to disentangle episodic memory characteristics from the search for meaning, a positive association was found bet ween age and autobiographical reasoning using self event connections (Sample B : N = 168; 8 65 years ; Habermas et al., 2013). Self event connections were assessed by levels of or emotions. T h eir findings show an increasing trend in narra ting self event connections P air wise comparisons showed that however, the only significant increase appeared across adolescence Production of this type of self event connection dropped from midlife (40 years) to older adu lthood (65 years). Habermas et al. did not directly test age differences between the older adult group (65 years) and emerging adults (20 years), but the d evelopmental pattern in their study suggests no age differences between the two age group s Past research presents mixed findings. It may be that t he operationalization of self event connections in past research has collapsed reasoning about self stability and self change (e.g., Habermas et al., 2013; Pasupathi & Mansour, 2006) A s shown in M cLean (2008) a ge differences were found when self stability statements (older adults showed more) were separate fro m self change statements (younger individuals showed more). With an aim to explain the differential experience in self continuity in emergin g and older adults, the current study examines autobiographical reasoning that explicitly narrate s self stability ( aspects of the self that remain similar) and self change (i.e., aspects of the self ha ve changed due to life events ) It is expected to replicate McLean (2008) findings but extend it to challenging and non challenging memories.
27 Issues for Consideration in the Current Study Three separate lines of past research suggest that autobiographical reasoning could be a potent ial path helping older adults maintain a stronger sense of self continuity than emerging adults. In one study, autobiographical reasoning was linked to a sense of self continuity (Habermas & K ber, 2015a ). Age differences in the experience of self continui ty and autobiographical reasoning have also been documented (Habermas & K b er, 2015a ; McLean, 2008). The current study thus tests whether autobiographical reasoning using self stability and self change is a mediating path between age group ( i.e emerging versus older adults) and the experience of self continuity. Based on past research, however, t wo issues must be considered. First a utobiographical reasoning using self stability or self change is theorized to foster a sense of self continuity (Pasupathi et al., 2007 ) Reasoning about stability as compared to reasoning about change may have different effects on self continuity. The age difference findings found in McLean (2008) suggest this possibility. That is, given older a dults mo re frequently use self stability but less frequently show self change when describing past life events, it is possible that t hrough narrating high stability and low change older adults are able to maintain a stronger sense of self continuity than emerging adults Second, a discussion of the relation of autobiographical reasoning to self continuity would be incomplete without some consideration of self concept clarity. Self sense of how clearly and coherently t heir self is defined (Campbell et al., 1996). Theoretically self concept clarity can be seen as part of in the long term self ( Conway et al., 2004 ) which should foster a sense of self continuity One study found a positive link betwe en self concept clarity and
28 continuity ( e.g., Ritchie et al., 2010) Older adults have been shown to have greater self concept clarity than emerging adults (Bluck & Al ea, 2008). Given r esearchers argue that (e.g., Habermas & Kber, 2015 b ) simply having a clear continuity in the face of life difficulties (e.g., Boelen, Keijsers, & van den Hout, 2012) t he current study addresses this issue. That i s, the study focuses on the relation of autobiographical reasoning (i.e., self stability and self change) to maintain self continuity in the face of challenge, but also ass esses self concept clarity as an additional means that may aid older adults in holdi ng a stronger sense of self continuity than their younger counterparts Specific Aims and Hypotheses Taken together, the current study tests interrelations among age, autobiographical reasoning, and self concept clarity to explain the differential experien ce of self continuity in emerging and older adults. Both autobiographical reasoning and self concept clarity are expected to be effective mediating paths helping older adults maintain a stronger sense of self continuity than emerging adults. Specific aims and hypotheses are presented Aim 1: Test A dult Age D ifferences in G lobal S elf continuity The first aim is to test age differences in the two aspects of global self continuity, point of view continuity and core continuity. Hypothesis 1 It is expected that older adults will score hi gher than emerging adults on both aspects of self continuity.
29 Aim 2: Test Adult Age Differences in A utobiographical R easoning The second aim is to test age differences in autobiographical reasoning (i.e., themes of self st ability and self change) in challenging a s compared to non challenging autobiographical memories Hypothesis 2 .1. For self stability, a main effect of age group is expected Older adults are exp ected to more frequently present self stability than emerging adults. An interaction of age group by memory type in self stability is expected Older adults are expected to show greater self stability than younger adults in challenging memories, more so than in non challenging memories. Hypothesis 2 .2. For self change, a main effect of age group is expected Older adults are expected to less frequently present self change than emerging adults. An interaction effect of age group by memory type is also expected Older adults are expected to show less self change than emerging adults in their challenging memories with no difference in non challenging memories. Aim 3: Test Autobiographical Reasoning a nd Self Concept Clarity as Mediators between Age Group a nd Global Self Continuity Based on expected age difference findings in global self continuity (Aim 1; older adults score higher) and autobiographical reasoning (Aim 2; older adults show more self stability and less self change in challenging memory narratives), the third aim is to examine the mediating role of autobiographical reasoning (i.e., self stability, self change) to explain the relation between age group and global self continuity. Hypothesis 3 .1. Self stability in challenging memories will partially mediate the relation between age group and g lobal self continuity. That is, more frequent production of self stability in challenging memory narratives is expected to be, in continuity than emerging adults. Hypothesis 3 .2. Self change in challenging memories will partially mediate the relation between age group and self continuity. That is, less frequent production of self sense of self continuity than emerging adults. Hypothesis 3.3 The mediation effects of autobiographical reasoning (i.e., self stability, self change) are expected to be robust with the inclusion of self concept clarity as an additional mediator. Self concept clarity is expected to be a mediator
30 that also partially explains higher levels of self continuity in older than emerging adults. Aim 4: Explore Whether the Interaction b etween Age Group a nd Autobiographical Reasoning Predicts Global Self Continuity It is also possible that autobiographical reasoning (i.e., self stability, self change) in challenging memories is a moderator. That is, autobiographical reasoning may interact with age to predict global self continuity (i.e., point of view continuity, core continuity). Hypothesi s 4.1. Producing greater self stability in narrating challenging memories may be related to greater global self continuity for older adults but not for emerging adults. Hypothesis 4.2. Producing less self change in narrating challenging memories may be related to greater global self continuity for older adults but not for emerging adults
31 CHAPTER 2 METHOD Participants The sample consists of 187 adults, including 99 emergi ng adults (men = 48, women = 51) and 88 older adults (men = 40, women = 48 ). Twelve participants were excluded This included three participants who r eported three or more inaccurate responses out of five foil items (one young and two older adults) one older adult who did not complete the session, and nine participants (three e merging and six older adult s ) who did not provide valid challenging life events. Emerging adults were college students who ranged from 18 to 23 years old ( M = 19.42, SD = 1.25). S tudents who signed up for the study were contacted via email to schedule an in person session. They received course credit s for participation. With regard to ethnicity, 53.5% were Caucasian, 20.2% were Hispanic, 15.2% were African American 7.1% were Asian, and 4% self identified as other. About one fifth of emerging adults were p art time employed. As compared to people their age, they rated their M = 1.87, SD = 0.82; 1 = very good 6 = very poor ) and their positive mood as moderate ( M = 3. 79, SD = 0.81) with negative mood on average as ( M = 1.7, SD = 0.86; 1 = not at all 5 = extremely ) O lder adults range d from 61 to 92 years old ( M = 71.73, SD = 6.79). They were recruited from a variety of sources in the Gainesville, Alachua, and Marion County community. They received fifteen dollars as compensation. For educational background, had an Associ ate degree, and 2.2% completed either High School or Grade School. The majority of older adults were retired (78.9%), 17.8% had a full time or part time job,
32 3.3% reported their status as unemployed. The majority of older participants were Caucasians (92.2 %). The remaining participants reported their ethnicity to be African American Asian, Hispanic, or other. As compared to people their age, they rated their good M = 1.68, SD = 0.79). They reported their positive mood as on average, quite a bit M = 4.07, SD = 0.73) and their negative mood as between a little to not at all M = 1.53, SD = 0.71). Procedure s Recruitment Emerging adults were from the participant pool in the psychology department. For older adults, a 5 minute phone interview for dementia screening was performed Healthy, community dwelling o lder adults who passed the screening were invited for an in person session. B efore the appointment, all participants were reminded of the scheduled appointment time, the location of the laboratory and parking. They were also reminded to have vision and hearing aids with them if needed. Data C ollection Before data collection, all procedures and measures were pilot tested on six emerging adults and one older adult. Feedback on the clarity of instructions, formatting issues and the amount of time needed to complete the material were used to refine the protocol. Pilot testing also served as training for the research assistants. After signing an informed consent, all participants completed q uestionnaires assessing Demographic and Cognitive Ability They also completed the measure of self concept clarity and the two measures of global self continuity The administration order for the measures of self concept clarity and self continuity was cou nterbalanced within each age group. After this, the Autobiographical Memory Task (i.e., to elicit narratives of
33 two non challenging and two challenging memories ) was conducted This was followed by manipulation checks and a questionnaire assessing memory v ividness The fixed order of administration of questionnaires and the Autobiographical Memory Task is to prevent the potential influence of memory recall (i.e., challenging memories ) on report questionnaires. In the Autobiog raphical Memory task, the administration of the two word cues (Corner and Bus) for eliciting non challenging memories was counterbalanced within age group. In sum, two forms for administering measures were created to avoid potential confounds due to order of administration (Form A: self concept clarity first, self continuity measure after, word cue corner first, and bus after, Form B: reverse sequence). Data collection was conducted individually in a quiet, comfortable room by a trained female research ass istant. Following a standard script, a research assistant administered online questionnaires using Qualtrics. The study questionnaires were divided into multiple pages with a small number of questions on each page and appeared in large font size. The procedure ensured that participants could easily comprehend the questionnair es. In addition to monitoring by the research assistant, five strongly agree this item) were embedded in the survey to ensure participants were paying attention to all items as th ey answered them. Research assistants also interviewed participants face to face, guiding them to complete the Autobiographical Memory Task which was audio recorded.
34 The data collection took approximately one and a half hours to two h ours. All participants took a 5 to 10 minute break between the administration of the self report measures and the Autobiographical Memory Task. Water was provided throughout the session. Juice and snacks were provided during the break. Older adults signed a receipt for receiving compensation. All sessions ended with debriefing. Assistants escorted older participants back to the parking lot. Autobiographical Memory Task The memory task was designed to collect autobiographical memories These were then conte nt coded and rated for autobiographical reasoning, including self stability and self change Participants orally share four events that happened in the past six years They first shared two non challenging memories and then two challenging memories. This d esign was chosen for several reasons. First, the inclusion of non challenging life events allows th e present study to examine the claim that autobiographical reasoning regarding challenging life events (i.e., not just any autobiographical memories) are par ticularly relevant to the maintenance of self continuity. Second, the fixed memory sharing order (i.e., non challenging memories and then challenging memories) ensured that recall of non challenging memories would not be contaminated by recall of challengi ng memories Third, the fixed time interval (i.e., events in the past six years) instead of using free recall of any challenging event from was used to control for potentially wide variation in selected events in the two age groups, simply due to older adults having lived longer. Also past research indicates that adolescence is likely the developmental period in which individuals first experience challenge s to self continuity (Chandler Lalonde, Sokol, & Hallett 2003). The youngest participants in the current study were 18 years old. The
35 fixed time interval allows that the oldest possible memory in the emerging adult group would be from age twelve, falling within the developmental period of adolescence. The 6 year time interval was also used in the measure of global self continuity to address Aim 3 testing the relation between autobiographical reasoning and self continuity. Throughout the task the assistant did not converse with the participant except to provid e instructions. The research assistant made only limited verbal responses (e.g., uh huh) but acted as an interested listener (see Appendix A for the standard script). Methods for eli citing non challenging and challenging memories are described next Non c hallenging memories. The word cue method was used to elicit two memory narratives of non challenging life events This method is one of the most widely used methods in autobiographical memory research (Rubin, 2000). The participants were presented with one word cue at a time. They were instructed to generate the first autobiographical memory that c ame to mind in reference to that cue. Based on past research (Bradley & Lang, 1999) Corner and B us were chosen as the cues. These two words have been rated to be emotionally neutral and low arousal and thus are appropriate for eliciting non challenging memories. Participants had up to two minutes to recall an autobiographical memory relate d to the cue They then had seven minutes to narrate the event aloud. I f the participants did not use up the provided time o ne prompt was given at the end of memory sharing to probe for further details (i.e., c an you remember anything else about where you were, what you were doing, thinking or feeling? ). After recall of two memor ies participants filled out manipulation checks and a questionnaire assessing memory vividness This procedure was designed to be parallel to the recall of life events that challenge the self
36 Challenging memories. C hallenging memory narratives assess a time of turmoil where self feels disrupted by a life event The Life Experiences Survey ( adapted from Sarason, Johnson, & Siegel, 1978; see Appendix B ) was used to facilitate the selection of two challenging memories. The 57 item Life Experiences Survey covers a wide range of life events that often require adjustment (e.g., loss of a close friend leaving home for the first time). Participants first reported whether they had experienced each specific life event over the pas t six years. As a backup, they were also asked to list at least two additional important life events that were not in the survey but that they had found challenging. Participants rated the extent to which each specific event disrupted their sense of self o n a 7 point Likert scale (1 = not at all ; 7 = extremely ). Both positive and negative life events were listed and organized into two sections. O nce complete, the research assistants highlighted all of the negative events that were rated as highly disruptive ( 3 on a 7 point scale ) and asked participants to select one of the highlighted events that they felt comfortable to share. Following the standard procedure used for the recall of non challenging life events, participants had two minutes to choose an ev ent and seven minutes to verbally share the memory. If participants did not use all seven minutes, one prompt was given for prob i ng further details (i.e., c an you remember anything else about where you were, what you were doing, thinking or feeling? ). The second challenging memory was collected using the same procedure. After recall of two memories participants filled out manipulation checks and a questionnaire assessing memory vividness. In closing, the research assistant asked participants to share lesso ns learned from their shared
37 challenging life events. This procedure ensured that the session ended with a positive tone life lessons was not included in the current study. Content coding preparation T he collected memory narratives were content coded by trained coders for autobiographical reasoning particularly for indications of self stability and self change Before content coding, several steps were performed to prepare for coding First, t he colle cted audio narratives were transcribed verbatim. Second, t o facilitate coding and control for length of narratives, transcribed narratives were divided into idea units based on Baker Brown et al. ( 1992) and paragraphing tips from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab A ll n arratives were also a ssigned a new identification number to avoid potential biases from knowing the age of the participants. Based on past literature (Bluck Alea, Baron Lee, & Davis, 2016; Habermas, 2011 ; Pasupathi et al., 2007; Singer & Blagov, 200 0 ), a comprehensive manual, Coding for Autobiographical Reasoning using Self stability and Self change in Challenging and Non challenging Memory Narratives, was developed. See Appendix C for details. Measures Dementia screening was administered by telephone for older adults as a screener for study participation. All other m easures were administered in the order in which they are presented below (Form A) Dementia Screening The six item Orientation Memory Concentration Test (Katzman, Brown, Fuld, Peck, Schechter & Schimmel, 1983) was used T he measure has shown to be reliable for detect ing dementia (Davous, Lamour, Debrand, & Rondot, 1987). Errors made on each item are weighted to yield a total possible error score of 28. Based on criteria set
38 by Carpenter et al ., ( 2011 ) individuals with a total error score higher than six were not invited (n = 9). For the complete measure, see Appendix D Demographics marital status, perceived health, and their current mood were collected For perceived health, participants rated their current health on a single 6 point scale (1 = very good, 6 = very poor ) compared with their same aged peers (Maddox, 1962). For current mood, participants rated on 5 point scales (1 = very slightly or not at all 5 = extremely ) to indicate the extent to which they feel positive and negative right now. Descriptive statistics for these measures appear in the Participants section Cognitive Ability As potential covariates of autobiographical reasoning ability, particularly of vocabulary and episodic memory w ere assessed A modified Nelson Denny Vocabulary Test (Brown, Fishco & Hanna, 1993 ) was used to assess vocabulary The original test consists of twenty five multiple choice items. After pilot testing, o ne item was excluded due to the ambiguity concerning the correct response. Participants selected the best alternative for a given word Composite scores were calculated with higher scores indicating better vocabulary The Rey Auditory Verbal L earning Test (RAVLT; Rey, 1941) was used to assess episodic memory. A trained research assistant read aloud a list of 15 words at the rate of about one word every two seconds. Right after, the participant recalled aloud to the assistant as many words as possible in any order in two minutes. The assistant wrote down answers on a piece of blank paper. A higher number of words recalled indicates better episodic memory. Measures of cognitive ability are presented in Appendix E.
39 Self concept Cla rity A 5 item Self concept Clarity Scale (modified from Campbell et al., 1996) was used to assess the extent to which participants perceive their self concept as clearly defined These five items were: in general, I have a clear sense of who I am and what I am; e ; my beliefs about myself often conflict with one another; I seldom experience conflict between the different aspects of my personality; sometimes I think I know other p eople better than I know myself (R); my beliefs about myself often conflict with one another (R). Participants rated agreement with each st atement on a 5 point scale (1 = strongly disagree 5 = strongly agree ). Three items are reverse scored. The reliabili ty of the measure is good ( Cronbach = .73 ) M ean score s were used with higher scores indicating a clearer self concept. Global Self continuity A g lobal sense of self continuity of being the same person over time. The measure consists of eight items adopted from two studies (Habermas & Kber, 2015a ; Sedikides et al., 2014). To match up with their memory recall, participants indicated the extent to which they feel connected with their past six years ago on 5 point scales (1 = strongly disagree ; 5 = strongly agree ). This six year time frame was used to map the autobiographical memory task in which participants were instructed to recall life events that happened within the past six years. Th e Global Self continuity measure was subjected to Principle Component Analysis and Varimax rotation and two factors emerged. The first factor, Point of View continuity, contains four items, taking regarding the extent to which their past is connected to the present. Items include: when I think back
40 to how I was six years ago, it feels a little unfamiliar (R); I feel connected with who I was ars ago; when I look at pictures of myself six years ago it feels a little unfamiliar (R). Two items were reverse scored. The second factor, core c o ntinuity, consists of three items indicating the extent to which individuals feel their core self has remain ed the same These items were: I feel that, at my core, I am the same person I was six years ago; there is continuity in who I have been as a person over the past six years; important aspects of my personality have remained the same over the past six years One item loaded on both factors and was therefore excluded The two subscale s explained 64. 7 % of the total var iance in global self continuity with f actor loadings ) indicate that the two subscales are reliable measures. Mean scores were calculated Higher scores indicat e holding a stronger sense of point of view continuity or core continuity, respectively The two subscales are positively correlated, r = .57, p < .001. As such, in later analysis (A im 1), these two variables were treated as related dependent variables (i.e., MANOVA was used ). Manipulation C hecks T wo items were used as manipulation checks immediately after each memory was shared Participants rated on a 5 point scale (1 = not at all ; 5 = extremely ) to indicate the extent to which the event challenged them. This item was used to ensure that challenging memories were rated as more challenging than non challenging memories. Participants also reported when the event happened This item was used to ensure that all memories fell within the six year timeframe.
41 Memory V ividness As a potential covariate of autobiographical reasoning memory vividness was assessed (Bluck Levine & Laulhere 1999) using the following four items : H ow vivid or clear in your mind is the memory you have for this event? As I remember the event, I feel as though I am reliving the original event; A s I remember the event, I can see it in my mind ; I can recall the setting where the event occurred Partici pa nts rated each item on a 5 point scale (1 = not at all ; 5 = extremely ). The measure shows great internal consistency for both non .84). Autobiographical Reasoning : Self stability and Self change This coding manual classifies how individuals narrate their life events using autobiographical reasoning that indicates (1) self stability: maintaining a stable sense of self even in the face of selected challenging or non challenging life event s, and (2) self change: described as due to the event For narrative examples, see Table 2 1. For each memory narrative, self stability was first coded. Coders first assigned a score of 1 or 0 for the presence or absence of self stability o ne idea unit by one idea unit After completing the coding for self stability for a memory narrative, coders went back from the beginning of the same narrative to assign a score of 1 or 0 for the presence or absence of self change one unit by one unit. After coding for s elf stability and self change was complete, coders moved to the next narrative and repeated the procedure. T h is coding procedure ensures s elf stability and self change to be mutually exclusive within one idea unit Self stab ility refers to autobiographica l reasoning that reflects on the self during or after the selected l ife event to characteristics that an individual already
42 had before the event Specifically, individuals describe longstanding, self qualities (e.g., traits, preferences) tha t are important to them (e.g., or how the selected event has been incorporated into an existing aspect of the self as an exemplar (e.g., I always recall this memory when I want to remind myself why I keep fighting for social justice ). In contrast, s elf change refers to autobiographical reasoning that is use d to connect the self to selected life events by narrating new self conceptions they discovered after the event. Individuals describe how some new aspects of the self have emerged (e.g., So that night I received him for myself into my heart. I became a Christian and a Christ follower ), or revealed due to the selected event (e.g., I realized at that point when I found out how angry he was that I took his friendship for granted and I ). Coding p rocedures. For each memory narrative, percentage score s of self stability and self change were calculated : total score received in an entire narrative d ivided by the number of idea units. This scoring procedure controls for narrative length and provides straightforward meaning. For example, a self stability score of 0 .13 indicates that autobio graphical reasoning regarding stability occurs in 13% of the id ea units in Coder training and inter rater reliability. T wo female undergraduate research assistants who were blind to the hypotheses were trained to be reliable coders in a period of twelve weeks. Practice coding narrati ves from pilot testing and past projects were used for coder training About 10% of the actual study memory narratives (n = 75) were used to obtain inter rat er reliabilities using the Intraclass Cor relation Coefficient
43 (ICC). Results indicate that self sta bility and self change were reliably coded (ICCs = 94, .90). T wo reliable coders then coded all remaining memory narratives in seven weeks. Disagreements were resolved through weekly discussion s Self stability shown in non challenging memories and challen ging memories was positively correlated r = .18, p < .05. Self change in non challenging memories was unrelated to self change in challenging memories, r = .02, p = .82. There were no associations between self stability and self change in non challenging ( r s = 05, .03, p s = .50, .73) and challenging memory narratives ( r = .07; p = .36). As such, in later analysis (Aim 2), autobiographical reasoning using self sta bility and self change were treated as two separate dependent variables (i.e., ANOVAs were used ). Table 2 1 Coding stability and change: examples from the narratives Coding Examples Self stability Challenging memory: Negative change in usual type of recreation Narrative: (1) So, Even, when I was challenged with breast cancer, in 2002. I never identified with that, as part of me, as a healthy perso n. It sounds odd, it happened to somebody else. Because, am. (2) And so, last year as a result of the breaking of my elbow, I was severely limited in the amount of outdoor exercise and recreation I could participate in And you know, that was very difficult. always, at the same time, had a healthy body image. Slim, fit, flat belly, you know just the whole, whole thing Which is, in retrospect, so shallow and vain, from the body image perspective. (3) But all of a Because, I had fallen. I was timid, all of a sudden, about just walking up the road and being afraid I would fall. And, further injure myself It really shook f, historically. (4) And even now, And, the elbow is stable. I can get out, or walk, at least So, yeah. I just. Who I am, in my mind, a healthy strong en my mantra when I go to sleep at night. So strong, and healthy, and So, that limitation was very, I
44 Table 2 1 Continued Self change Challenging memory: I ncrease in arguments with spouse Narrative: (1) In the recent past, you can say the last three months, three or four months, my wife has had some issues with dermatology because the wo circulation is. (2) She uptight about it. I get uptight about it. Her not able to do the things that she used to do. So I think that, and ch I it may have decreased my patience over time So we do seem to snap at one another more than we have in the past. (3) For years and years and years and years we got along famously. We hardly ever argued about anything, h ad disagreements with anything. But I think because of this event, series of events, I think than we have seen in the recent past. (4) things. That she req all. I think that because she has to have more, it has caused her some of the same difficulties that she was less able to do the things she wants No reasoning Non challenging memory (Cue word = Bus) Narrative: (1) Well, my first memory is that my friend rides the bus everywhere. And two, three, four years before 2010, I was riding the bus a lot too. So the next memory that occurred to me was on the trip to Per u where we traveled everywhere by bus. And most of the time, it was a bus outfitted for tourists. (2) But one particular trip, there was a strike among the drivers. And so we had to ride a bus that, well, common people would ride. And it was an experience. It was very crowded, it was even flush. And it was really, it was a hole. Very dirty. (3) So I guess that really gave us an insight into how the common people in Peru live. And f rom the windows of the bus, as we passed over the Alto Plano, I believe it is, high planes. There were plastic bags and plastic trash everywhere. So in Peru, sanitation is not a priority, except in the major cities and tourist areas. Note: Numbers within each narrative demonstrate how narratives were divided by idea units
45 CHAPTER 3 RESULTS The results are organized into two sections. The first section presents preliminary analyses. The second section presents analyses in relation to the specific aims, testing major hypotheses. Preliminary Analyses Three sets of preliminary analysis were conducted A manipulation check was first conducted to ensure that participants followed the instructions and reported valid data. The second analysis ensured that the order of administration did not have an effect on self report measures of self concept clarity or self continuity and content coding va riabl es of self stability and self change in non challenging memories (i.e., elicited by Corner and Bus) The final analysis identified potential covariates that should be included in major analyses. Manipulation Checks Two criteria age of event and participa the level of challenge of challenging memories after the recall w ere examined. Age of event was first examined to exclude memories that happened more than six years ago. D escriptive statistics show that there were nineteen memory narrati ves (11 non challenging and 8 challenging narratives) that happened more than six years ago. These memories were excluded from the current study. For the remaining memory narratives, non challenging and challenging life events happened 2.56 ( SD = 1.54) and 2.99 years ago ( SD = 2.74 ) respectively Independent t tests show that there were no age difference in the time that event occurred for non challenging memories, t (183) = 1.32, p challenging memories ( M = 3.23, SD = 1.64) were about nine months older than their
46 M = 2.23, SD = 1.41), t (184) = 4.1, p < .001. Age of challenging memories is further examined in the subsection on potential covariates. Second, t o ensure challenging memories posit a greater challenge to the self than non challenging ones, a paired sample t test was conducted. As expected, participants reported that non challenging memories challenged the self on average a little ( M = 2.1, SD = 0.95) whereas challenging memories were rated to be self challeng ing ( M = 3.9, SD = 0.93), t (162) = 18.94, p < .01. These results indicate that the two memory types were successfully collected Administration O rder Two MANOVAs w ere conducted to examine whether the order of administration ha d an effec As expected, the order of administration d id concept clarity, point of view continuity and core continu ity F (3 18 3) = 0 26 p = .85 The order of administration did stability and self change), F (4, 171) = 0.66, p = .62. Potential C ovariates s we re conducted to identify potential covariates (i.e., gender, vocabulary episodic memory, age of challenging memories, vividness of non challenging and challenging memories ) Following Miller and Chapman (2001), these variables would be included as covaria tes if they met the following criteria: (i) v ariables solely related to the main variables of interest (i.e., autobiographical reasoning or self continuity) were included in ANOVA type analyses as covariates, and (ii) variables associated with age were inc luded in regression type analyses, because those variables were sources of heterogeneity between age groups and thus were
47 inappropriate to include in ANOVA type analyses (Miller & Chapman, 2001). The inclusion of age related variables in regression type an alyses helps to identify whether those variables are predictors of the main variables of interest. Gender. As shown in Table 3 1, gender was unrelated to autobiographical reasoning and self continuity variables. It was therefore excluded from later analyses. Cognitive ability As expected, vocabulary and episodic memory were related to age. O lder adults ( M = 19.4 1 SD = 2.9 2 ) had higher vocabularies than the younger group ( M = 11.64 SD = 3.27), F (1, 18 5) = 291.91 p < .001. Emerging adul ts ( M = 8.03 SD = 1.75 ) had better episodic memory than older adults ( M = 6.67 SD = 1.85 ) F (1, 18 4) = 26.75 p < .001 As shown in Table 3 1, vocabulary was negatively related to autobiographical reasoning using self change in challenging memories and positively linked to point of view continuity and core continuity. Episodic memory was positively related to autobiographical reasoning using self change in challenging memories and negatively associ ated with the two aspects of self continuity. Based on the criteria presented earlier, vocabulary and episodic memory were thereby included as covariates in regression type analyses. Age of challenging memories and memory vividness How long ago a challe nging memory had occurred was associated As shown in Table 3 1, i t was also negatively associated with autobiographical reasoning using self stability in non challenging memories and positively related to the two aspects of self cont inuity. Memory vividness of non challenging memor ies was negatively related to age and core continuity As such, these two memory characteristics (i.e., age of
48 challenging memories and vividness of non challenging memories) were included as covariates in regression type analyses Major Analyses Results related to each specific aim are presented They were tested using a variety of analytical techniques including multiple regression, analyses of variance, and mediation and moderation analyses with appropri ate follow ups. The results of the first two aim s test ed served as foundations for forming the model that tested the mediation role of autobiographical reasoning between age and self continuity. R esults of the first three aims were used for forming a model testing the potential interaction effect of autobiographical reasoning by age group on self continuity. Aim 1: Age D ifferences in Global S elf continuity Older adults were expected to hold a stronger sense of self continuity than emerging adults. As the two aspects of self continuity were correlated, a Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was conducted with point of view continuity and core continuity as dependent variables and age group (0 = emerging adults, 1 = older adults) as the independent variable. variance covariance matrices between the two age group s was met F (6, 11114635.8 ) = 2.05, p = .11 was u sed for reporting the result of point of view continuity A main effect of age on self continuity was found = .6 6 F (2 18 4) = 47.93 p Follow up univariate ANOVAs were conducte d. for the assumption of homogeneity of variance was not met for core continuity, F (1, 185) = 9.82, p < .01, a robust Brown Forsythe F test was used for reporting age differences. As expected, o lder adults ( M = 4.29, SD = 0.80) scored high er than emerging adults on
49 point of view continuity ( M = 3.21 ; SD = 0.88) F (1, 185 ) = 76.03 p Older adults ( M = 4.46, SD = 0.79 ) also scored higher on core continuity than the younger group ( M = 3.43, SD = .1.01 ) Brown Forsythe F (1, 182.393) = 60.88, p < .001, To determine whether the effect of age remain ed robust after taking into account the identified covariates (i.e., vocabulary episodic memory, age of challenging memories vividness of non challenging memories), two f ollow up multiple regressions were conducted. A ge was entered as a predictor along with the four covariates. Point of view continuity and core continuity were dependent variables in the regression model, respectively. Results show that the positive effect of age on point of view continuity remained significant ( = .61, p < .001) T he four covariates showed no effect with s ranging from .11 to 11 ( p s = .08 .57) Age also positively predicted core continuity ( = 32 p < .0 1 ) when the four covariates were considered. The covariates showed no effect with s ranging from .09 to .19 ( p s = .08 .70) In conclusion, the hypothesis that older adults hold a stronger sense of global self continuity than emerging adults was confirmed. Aim 2: Age D ifferences in A utobiographical R easoning O lder adults were hypothesized to more frequently present self stability than emerging adults whereas emerging adults were expected to more frequently present self change in their memory narratives For memory type, it was h ypothesized that both s elf stability and self change would be more frequently shown in challenging than non challenging memory narratives. These main effects were expected to be modified by the interaction between age group and memory type. O lder adults we re expected to more frequently narrate self stability than emerging adults, particularly in challenging
50 memories. E merging adults were expected to more frequently narrate self change than older adults, particularly in their challenging memories T wo 2 (Age) X 2 (Memory Type) mixed ANOVAs were conducted to test age differences in the two facets of autobiographical reasoning. A ge group (i.e., 0 = emerging, 1= older adults) was the between subject independent variable. Memory type (i.e., non chal lenging, challenging memories ) was the within subject independent variable. A utobiographical reasoning using self stability and self change were dependent variables respectively. Self stability The expected main effect of age group on self stability was not found F (1, 186) = .17, p = .68. O lder adults did not more frequently present self stability in their narratives ( 4 .3 % ; M = 0.04 3 SD = 0.0 9) than emerging adults ( 3.7 % ; M = 0.0 37 SD = 0.0 6) As expected, the main effect for memory type was found, F (1, 186) = 7.46, p < .05, Regardless of age, self stability was more frequently shown in challenging (4%; M = 0.04, SD = 0.08) than in non challenging memories (2%; M = 0.02, SD = 0.06). There was no interaction effect between age and memory typ e, F (1, 186) = .06, p =.82. Self change As expected, t he main effect of age group was found, F (1, 186) 15.32, p < .001, overall presented more self change in their memory narratives overall (5.2%; M = 0.052, SD = 0.06) than did older adults (2.1 %; M = 0.02 1 SD = 0.04). Th e expected main effect of memory type was also found, F (1, 186) = 54.53, p < .001, Autobiographical reasoning using self change was more frequently shown in challenging (6.7%; M = 0.067, SD = 0.11) than non challenging memor i es (0.7%; M = 0.007, SD = 0.03).
51 These main effects were modified by the interaction between age and memory type, F (1, 186) = 16.47, p < .001, To decompose this interaction effect two follow up ANOVA s were conducted with age as an independent variable and self change in challenging and non challenging memory narratives as dependent variables was met for the dependent variable of self change in non cha llenging memor ies F (1, 186) = 0.04, p = .84. T he assumption was violated for the dependent variable of self change in challenging memories F (1, 186) = 24.66, p < .001. A robust Brown Forsythe F test was used for testing age differences in self change sho wn in challenging memory narratives Results indicate that older adults presented less reasoning about self change in their challenging memory narratives (4%; M = 0.04, SD = 0.08) than emerging adults in the same memory type (9.7%; M = 0.097, SD = 0.12) Brown Forsythe F (1, 164.96) = 18.68, p < .001 T here was no age difference in the presence of self change in non challenging m emories (0.6% and 0.7%; Ms = 0.006, 0.007, SDs = 0.04, 0.03) F (1, 186) = 0.02, p = .89. T here were almost no descriptions about s elf change in non challenging memories Taken together, the main effect of age (i.e., emerging adults showed more) was driven by the more frequent presence of self c hange in challenging but not in n on challenging memories A multiple regression was conduct ed to test whether the main effect of age on self change remain ed when vocabulary and episodic memory were taken into account Results show that age was a significant predictor of autobiographical reasoning using self change in challenging memories ( = .25 p < .05). Vocabulary and episodic memory were not predictors of this type of reasoning ( s = .0 2 .0 7 p s = 82 34 ).
52 In conclusion Aim 2 hypotheses were partially supported The expected main effect of memory type was confirmed: regardless of age i ndividuals more frequently present autobiographical reasoning using both self stability and self change in challenging memories more than in non challenging ones. The hypothesized main effect of age for autobiographical reasoning was confirmed for s elf change but not self stability. E merging adults presented more self change than older adults and as theorized, this age effect is due to emerging frequent narration of self change in challenging memories The hypothesized main effect of ag e and the interaction effect between age and memory type on self stability were not found Aim 3 : The Mediating Role of A utobiographical R easoning and Self concept Clarity According to the findings of Aim 2, there were no age differences in the presence of autobiographical reasoning of self correlations (see Table 3 2) also show that self stability was unrelated to self continuit y. These findings ruled out the possibility that narration of self stability in challenging memories is a mediator between age and self continuity. This aspect of reasoning was therefore not included in Aim 3 analysis. Based on findings of Aim 2 and corre lations shown in Table 3 2, the autobiographical reasoning of self change in challenging memories was associated with age and the two subscales of self continuity in negative directions. These initial patterns suggest a potential mediating role of self cha nge in challenging memories between age and self continuity. In addition to autobiographical reasoning using self change, a second mediating path, self concept clarity was also examined In line with past
53 research, self concept clarity positively links to age and global self continuity (see Table 3 2), suggesting a potential mediating role. As such, two multiple mediation model s were run using process macro with a non parametri c bootstrapping technique (N = 5 000 ). The 95% of bootstrap c onfidence intervals were used to interpret mediation effects. Th e bootstrapping technique solve s the potential issue of violation of the normality assumption (Preacher, Rucker, & Hayes, 2007) a common problem in studies with small sample sizes In the two models, point of view continuity and core continuity were the outcome variable, respectively. In both models, age group was included as a predictor, and both self change in challenging memories and self concept clarity were mediators. Unstandardized coefficients and standard errors were summarized in Table 3 3. For Model 1, the total effect of the overall model was significant, coefficient = 1.0777, SE = 0.1236, t = 8.72, p < .001. This total effect was driven by both the direct effect of age group t = 6.85, p < .001, and the indirect effect of self concept clarity (a 1 x b 2 ), coefficient = 0. 1464 SE = 0. 0535 95%CI = [0.059, 0.2747]. The expected indirect effect of self change (a 1 x b 1 ) was not found however coefficient = 0.0354, SE = 0. 0373, 95%CI = [ 0.0345, 0.1165]. Consistent with previous findings (Aim 2), age group negatively predicted the level of self change in challenging memories, t = 4.18, p < .001; self change in challenging memories did not relate to point of view continuity, t = 0.96, p = .34. Self concept cla rity, on the other hand, mediated the relation between age group and point of view continuity. Age positively predicted greater self concept clarity t = 4.67, p < .001; self co ncept clarity predicted greater point of view continuity, t
54 = 3.55, p < .001. Taken together, older adults maintained a stronger sense of point of view continuity in part, through the self process of self concept clarity For Model 2, the total effect of the overall model was significant, coefficient = 1.0278, SE = 0.1336, t = 7.70, p < .001. This total effect was driven by both the direct effect of age group coefficient = 0.8368, SE = 0.1421, t = 5.89, p < .001, and the indirect effect of self concept c larity (a 2 x b 2 ), coefficient = 0.1399, SE = 0.0532, 95%CI = [0.0508, 0.2652]. Consistent with Model 1, age positively predicted greater self concept clarity. Self concept clarity positively related to core continuity, t = 3.12, p < .01. Together, results indicate that the positive relation between age group and core continuity was partially explained by self concept clarity. Narration of self change in challenging memories was unrelated to core continuity, t = 1.27, p = .20. The expected indirect effect of self change (a 1 x b 1 ) was not found, coefficient = 0.0 510 SE = 0.0 459 95%CI = [ 0.03 34 0.1 493 ]. Taken together, as shown in Figure 3 1, the hypothesized mediation effect of autobiographical reasoning of self change in challe nging memories was not supported Instead, the findings suggest that self concept clarity is an underlying process explain ing the age differences in both point of view continuity and core continuity. Aim 4 : The Interaction of Age Group and Autobiographical R easoning Given that expected mediation effect for self change was not found, Aim 4 explored the possibility that age group interact s with autobiographical reasoning using self change in challenging memories to predict self continuity. Based on the findings of age differences in self change in challenging memories and the mediation paths found in Aim 3, two moderated mediation models were tested (see Figure 3 2 for a conceptual model). Following Aim 3 findings, self concept clarity was i ncluded as a mediator
55 between age and self continuity. The new parameter here was the specification of an interaction term between age and autobiographical reasoning using self change in challenging memories as a predictor of self continuity. These models were tested using parametri c bootstrapping technique (N = 5 000) The 95% of bootstrap confidence intervals were specified for testing the mediator and moderator effects. In each model, point of view continuity an d core continuity were outcome variables, respectively. Unstandardized coefficients and standard errors were presented in Table 3 4. C onsistent with previous findings, self concept clarity partially mediated the relation between age and point of view conti nuity, coefficient = 0.1462, SE = 0.0545, 95% C I = [0 .0598, 0 .2784 ], and core continuity, coefficient = 0.1383, SE = 0.0535, 95% C I = [0 .0528 0 .2675 ]. For moderation effects, the autobiographical reasoning of self change in challenging memories did not moderate the relation between age group and point of view continuity 95% CI = [ 2.8545, 2.393 0]. The reasoning of self change in challenging memories, however, moderated the relation between age group and core co ntinuity, 95% CI = [ 6.3270, 0 .7200 ] To decompose this interaction effect (see also Figure 3 3) were conducted within each age group to decompose the interaction effect A negative association was found between self change in challenging memories and core continuity i n older adults, r = .35, p < .01. That is, older adults who included more self change in challenging memories tended to show lower core continuity. No association was found in emerging adul ts, r = .01, p = .93. Taken together the hypothesized interaction effects between age group and self change in challenging memories were found in core continuity but not point of view continuity.
56 Table 3 1. Correlations among age, autobiographical re asoning, global self continuity, and potential covariates M SD Gender V ocab Episodic Age of CM Vivid of NM Vivid of CM Age 43.88 26.59 .03 .78 ** .37 ** .30 ** .18 .03 R easoning S tability NM 0.02 0.06 .03 .04 .11 .16 .00 .03 CM 0.03 0.08 .14 .04 .04 .10 01 .04 C hange NM 0.01 0.03 .09 .05 .08 .08 .03 .06 CM 0.07 0.11 .01 .24 ** .18 .03 .00 .05 Global s c ont. Point of view 3.72 1.00 .11 .37 ** .23 ** .19 ** .01 .05 Core 3.92 1.04 .09 .46 ** .24 ** .18 .16 .06 Note : R easoning = Autobiographical reasoning, s c ont. = Self continuity, NM = Non challenging memories, CM = Challenging memories. Vocab. = Vocabulary. Vivid. = Vividness p < .05. ** p < .01. Table 3 2. Correlations among age, self stability and self change in challenging memories, and two aspects of global self continuity 1 2 3 4 5 6 1. Age 2. Self stability .01 3. Self change .30 *** .07 4. Self concept clarity .32 *** .13 .18 5. Point of view continuity .54 *** .09 .23 ** .38 *** 6. Core continuity .52 *** .12 .24 ** .35 *** .57 *** Note : p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.
57 Table 3 3. Unstandardized coefficients and standard errors of variables of interest Antecedent Age (X) Self change in CM (M1) Self concept clarity (M2) Consequent Model 1 Self change (M1) Coefficient 0.0636 *** (a 1 ) SE 0.0152 Self concept clarity (M2) Coefficient 0.5573 *** (a 2 ) SE 0.1194 Point of view (Y) R 2 = .34 Coefficient 0.8959 *** 0.5567 (b 1 ) 0.2626 *** (b 2 ) p < .001 SE 0.1308 0.5798 0.074 Model 2 Self change (M1) Coefficient 0.0636 *** (a 1 ) SE 0.0152 Self concept clarity (M2) Coefficient 0.5573 *** (a 2 ) SE 0.1194 Core (Y) R 2 = .29 Coefficient 0.8368 *** 0.8021 (b 1 ) 0.251 *** (b 2 ) p < .001 SE 0.1421 0.6299 0.0804 Note: Y = outcome variable, X = predictor, M = mediator, CM = challenging memories. *** p < .001. Figure 3 1 Summary of multiple mediation analyses tested. a 2 = 0. 5573 *** a 1 = 0.0636 b 2 = 0.2626 *** ( 0.251 *** ) *** ( 0.8386 *** ) b 1 = n.s. Age group Self change in challenging memories Self concept clarity Point of view (Core continuity)
58 Figure 3 2 Illustration of the moderated mediation models tested Table 3 4 Summary of moderated mediation analyses Antecedent Age (X) Self concept clarity (M) Self change in CM (W) X by W Consequent Model 1 Self concept clarity (M) Coefficient 0.5573 *** SE 0.1194 Point of view continuity (Y) Coefficient 0.9075 *** 0.2624 *** 0.4982 0.2307 SE 0.1472 0.0742 0.6721 1.3298 Model 2 Self concept clarity (M) Coefficient 0.5573 *** SE 0.1194 Core continuity (Y) Coefficient 1.0139 *** 0.2482 *** 0.0916 3.5235 SE 0.1573 0. 0793 0.7182 1.4209 Note : Y = outcome variable, X = predictor, M = mediator, W = moderator, X by W = interaction, CM = challenging memories. p < .0 5. *** p < .001 Age g roup Self concept c larity Self change in challenging memories Global s elf continuity
59 F igure 3 3 Moderation effects of age on the relation between self change in challenging memories and core continuity Core continuity Self change in challenging memories Emerging adults Older adults
60 CHAPTER 4 DIS CU S SION Having a sense of self continuity is fundamental to human functioning: it allows us to orient in space and time and thereby coherently perform daily activities. This experience is important for all individuals but may be particularly crucial in older adult hood (Atchley, 1999). Intuitively it should be more difficult for older people to maintain a sense of self continuity simply because they have more years of life over which they need to maintain continuity. Despite this however, older adults often experi ence a stronger sense of self continuity than younger people ( Habermas & Kber, 2015a ) The current study addressed this seeming paradox. G rounded in the functional approach ( Baddley, 1988; Bluck et al., 2010; Pillemer, 2009) that suggests maintaining sel f continuity is a basic function of autobiographical memory t he study examine d the theoretical proposi tion (Bluck & Liao, 2013) that autobiographical reasoning about challenging life events is an effective means for maintaining self continuity. It first e xamine d whether there are age differences between emerging and older adults in their experience of self continuity (i.e., point of view continuity and core continuity). Having demonstrated such differences to what extent does autobiographical reasoning wh en sharing challenging memories (i.e., using self stability and self change themes), and self concept clarity account for those age differences? Findings show that older adults experience greater global self continuity, both point of view continuity and c ore continuity, than emerging adults. The important role of autobiographical reasoning in the face of challenging life events is reflected by the result that, regardless of age, individuals use more autobiographical reasoning (i.e., both self
61 stability and self change) when sharing challenging than non challenging memory narratives. There is little to no autobiographical reasoning involved in autobiographical memory narratives about everyday events (i.e., non challenging events). Older and emerging adults a lso differed on the extent of autobiographical reasoning in their narratives that concern self change (i.e., no effect for self stability). Older adults present less self change than emerging adults in their autobiographical memory narratives overall, and this is particularly pronounced when talking about challenging events. The extent of autobiographical reasoning in challenging memories, howe ver, does not explain the age difference in the experience of self continuity (i.e. it is not a continuity and core continuity are partially explained by their higher levels of self concept clarity. Th at is, through having clearer current self conceptions, older adults are able to experience a stronger sense of continuity in self over time (i.e., both core and point of view continuity) than emerging adults. The role of memory in relation to the experien ce of self continuity appears to be conditional. That is, a moderation effect was found : greater reasoning concerning self change in challenging memories is associated with lower core continuity in older adults but not in emerging adults. The discussion h as four sections: (1) experiencing self continuity in emerging continuity, (3) the l ife phase specific role of autobiographical reasoning and (4) revisiting the RAM SC model. Study limitations are discussed and conclusions are provided in the final section.
62 Experiencing Self continuity in Emerging and Older Adulthood The current research identifies two inter related aspects of global self continuity: point of view cont inuity and core continuity. Theoretically, these are types of retrospective self continuity (Bluck & Liao, 2013) that a person experiences through reflecting on their personal past. Point of view continuity refers to perspective taking on is connected to the present. Individuals experience a sense of point of view continuity through feeling familiar when specifically viewin g the past through the eyes of the present self. Core continuity forms a distinct factor that focuses on how individuals feel the y have an essential or core self that has remained continuous over Older adults were found to have a higher sense of both point of view continuity and core continuity. This finding extends past research (Habermas & Kber, 201 5a ). It reflects that individuals in late life have a more enduring sense of I ness ( Troll & Skaff, 1997 ). This experience of essential personhood comes from having a coherent way of thinking and a persi stent identity across time. self continuity in the current study is not due to the lack of challenging life experiences in the given time period (i.e., last six years). Assuming that young adults show less continuit y because they are facing more serious changes than older adults would be in line with a societal stereotype, but not actually correct. I ndividuals at any stage face bo th gains and losses (Baltes, 199 7). In this study, both o lder adults and emerging adult s experienced at least one serious negative life event that disrupted their sense of self within the past six years. For example, older adults shared experiences such as loss of a significant other (e.g., spouse, adult children, close friends), serious per sonal illness (e.g., cancer),
63 relationship conflicts (e.g., breaking up with a romantic partner), and negative changes in the amount of time they are able to participate in valued leisure pursuits such as recreation or church activities. Emerging adults al so faced challenging life events. These included such things as relationship conflicts, personal injury, serious illness of a significant other, death of a grandparent, and failing an important exam. In sum b oth age groups shared memories of events that brought about a feeling of self disruption while older adults are more able to maintain a sense of self continuity regardless of these challenges. This finding is c onsistent with past research on the aging self (e.g., Baltes, L indenberger, & S taudinger, 2006; N ygren Alx, Jonsn, Gustafso, Norberg, & Lundman, 2005), suggest ing that individuals in later adulthood often have a more resilient self system. Older adults are better at managing a self disruptive situa tion to maintain a continuous sense of self than emerging adults A focus of this research, as shown next, was to understand how older adults, compared to their younger counterparts, maintain this continuity. Accounting for Age Differences in Global Self continuity Given the age difference findings in the experience of self continuity, h ow do older adults maintain a stronger sense of self continuity regardless of the life challenges they face? The study identif ies self concept clarity as a mediating path between age group and point of view continuity, and age group and core continuity. Autobiographical reasoning in challenging life events was not, as had been predicted, a mediator between age and global self continuity. The findings are discussed in t erms of a lifespan perspective (e.g., Atchley 1999; Baltes, 1997 ) and the framework of the Self Memory System model (SMS; Conway et al., 2004).
64 Self concept Clarity: A Mediating Path There have been debates reg ar ding what the most effective means are fo r maintaining a sense of self continuity in the face of inevitable life challenges that shake b ; Sani, 2008). The current findings show that self concept clarity is a bridge: older adults ha ve higher self concept clarity and this is responsible for their higher level of both point of view continuity and core continuity. One might be concerned that self concept clarity and self continuity are the same thing s and the mediation effect only co mes from the similarity in these constructs. Note however that self continuity and self concept clarity are moderately related but distinct constructs. The experience of self continuity involves a global feeling about the self as being continuous over ti me. The psychological process involves explicit temporal comparisons and temporal connections between the present self and the personal past (e.g., t here is continuity in who I have been as a person over the past six years ). Alternately, self concept clarity is present self conception. Self and confidently defined (e.g., I seldom experience conflict betwee n the different aspects of my personality ). Having high self concept clarity is important to the experience of self continuity : it acts as a strong reference point, allowing individuals to make past present comparisons. A salient sense of who I am now (i.e ., self concept clarity) likely aids individuals to see a clearer thread of who I have always been (i.e., self continuity). Without a clear present focused sense of self, temporal comparisons lose the anchor for constructing a past present trajectory of th e self.
65 P revious research has shown that self concept clarity links to positive self outcomes (e.g. higher self esteem, lower neuroticism; Campbell, Assanand, & Di Paula, 2003) and can act as a resource in manag ing life difficulties (e.g., Ritchie et al., 2010). The current finding is consistent with such literature further suggesting that perceiving a s clearly defined helps promote an extended self (Neiss er, 1988) : a retrospective sense of being me across long periods of time. The role of self concept clarity here also fits well with delineations of the conceptual self in the SMS model (Conway et al., 2004). Though the SMS model (Conway et al., 2004) does not explicitly state how a sense of self continuity is forged the importance of h aving a clear, well organized self representation for maintaining a biographical identity (i.e., through autobiographical memory) is central to the model. From a lifespan perspective, self concept clarity has been forged and refined over time and is highly resilient by the time an individual reaches late adulthood (cf. Lodi Smith & Roberts 2010 ). Research has shown that emerging adults are in the life phase of self exploration, whereas older adults have established clearer self conceptions. As compared to young individuals, older adults have created a more stable self structure (i.e., lower self concept incoherence; Diehl & Hay, 2010; higher self concept clarity; Bluck & Alea, 2008). Older adults are also more assured about who they are and consistent acros s different self domains (i.e., high self concept clarity, average self differentiation; Diehl & Hay, 2011). Older adults utilize their developed sc hematized patterns of personal beliefs to manage life challenges ( Atchley 1999) In sum, interpreted through past research, the current finding suggests that older adults may have a more resilient self structure to rely on in maintaining high self
66 continuity in the face of challenge than emerging adults. That is, as compared to their y ounger counterparts, older adults are more able to utilize their clearly defined current self concepts to establish a reference point for temporal comparisons, enabl ing the experience of greater self continuity regardless of life challenge s Autobiographi cal Reasoning in Challenging Life Events: An Uncharted Path Level of s elf concept clarity does not fully account for the age differences in global self continuity (i.e., point of view continuity and core continuity). Other factors, uncharted in this study are likely at play in the creation of self continuity. Autobiographical reasoning to forge continuity in the narration of life challenging events was postulated as one such factor (Bluck & Liao, 2013) Findings in the current study do not support that pr ediction. Instead, autobiographical reasoning interacted with age (i.e., was a moderator). That relationship is described in the next section. What might account for the non significant findings of autobiographical reasoning as a mediator? How might futur e research capture the role of autobiographical memory in maintaining self continuity? The type of memory selected for study may be the issue. In the SMS model (Conway et al., 2004) autobiographical memory is coherently linked to the long term self. As su ch, memories that are stored as part of the long term self, particularly in the life story schema (Bluck & Habermas, 2000 ; McAdams, 2001) may be critical for forging self continuity. The current study did not examine those memories but focused on memories for recent challenging life events (see also Rice & Pasupathi, 2010 ) Autobiographical reasoning within recent challenging memories may not be an avenue to self continuity and thereby in the current study, did not explain age differences in self continuity.
67 Instead, it may be that when facing self disruptions individuals rely on anchoring the self through recall and narration of other, well rehearsed and highly important memories to forge self continuity. In other words it may be that centr al memories in the life story (McAdams, 2001) are drawn on as personal landmarks when individuals face uncertainty about the self due to challenging life circumstances. Self defining memories (Singer & Salovey 1993), for example, could be the type of memo ry that invidi ou s rely on They are memories stored in the life story schema that a person uses to define the self (Conway et al., 2004). A recent review (Prebble et al., 2013) is in line with this view, suggesting that highly schematized autobiographical memories may be more critical to the maintenance of self continuity. Empirical research also suggests this possibility. Habermas and Kber (2015a ) found that a higher level of autobiographical reasoning in personally significant life events linked to a gre ater sense of self continuity after life challenges. Another recent study (Liao, Bluck, & Westerhof, under review ) also suggests autobiographical reasoning in self defining memories is important to another reasoning in self defining memories predicted their sense of self esteem one year later. As such, future research aiming to continuity in terms of autobiographical reasoning may need to focus on personally significant, self defining memories that act as landmarks in the life story. The Life Phase Specific Role of Autobiographical Reasoning Though autobiographical reasoning did not explain age differences in emerging xperience of self continuity, it did have a role to play. Both older and younger people more frequently use autobiographical reasoning (i.e., self stability and self change) when narrating challenging memories than when narrating everyday non
68 challenging ones There were, in addition life phase specific findings: (1) emerging adults use more themes of self change than older adults overall but this effect is particularly strong in challenging memories, and (2) reasoning using self change in challenging memories can be a liab continuity. The role of autobiographical reasoning as an important resource for adults in narrating challenging life events is first discussed Next, a lifespan development al perspective is adopted to discuss the two age difference findings. Reasoning: Stability and Change Themes in Memories of Challenging Events Autobiographical reasoning has long been theorized as an important social cognitive tool by which individuals mak e sense of personal life events, particularly challenging ones (Blu ck & Liao, 2013; McAdams & Bowman 2001). The current study supports this. That is, autobiographical memories of challenging events contain more autobiographical reasoning both in terms of reflecting on who I have always been (i.e., self stability) and on how I have changed (i.e., self change) than non challenging memories (i.e., elicited by neutral cue words). Given the rich narratives in this dataset, a few examples are given to illustrate autobiograp h ical reasoning in narrating events that presented challenges to their sense of self. One participant recalled a negative living situation with her roommate and remembered the event in a way that shows self It started probably about four months ago with my roommate. World War III, basically And of person who just lets things roll off me I usually am really optimistic about the situation, and I tend t o be confrontational with the issue at kind of had a similar personality so we butt heads a lot really work for me. I found
69 Usually, very independent, and I deal with it on my own Now I realize I think it is because In recalling this time of difficulty, th e participant draws on who she has always been: a to ugh, independent person who knows how to manage her life well. She notes who she is not: a person who calls her mom in tears. Through her self analysis, she reaffirms who she has always been regardless of challenge An example of self change when narratin g memories of challenging events is also provided That is, one participant recalled a time when she had to manage her distress when her son had a major injury. She indicated how she changed because of Okay this was probably th happened in my life found out it was his fault And it really ch anged how I looked at the world. And fr om that time, I became a person that was a different person... And that lasted for quite a long time ... It gave me a whole different outlook on life ... S uddenly life took on a whole different meaning. But the good thi .. This affected every single aspect of my life. The participant remembered the event in terms of how it changed her. She notes that she became a different person, with a different worldview. As shown in these two examples, autobiographical reasoning is used to create self event connections that bind a discordant autobiographical reasoning is likely part of the early organization of an autobiographical memor y, such that it can eventually be made meaning of (McLean Pasupathi, & Pals, 2007; Pasupathi et al., 2007). Meaning making eventually leads to better coping with
70 the event (e.g., Pals, 2006). Depending on how coherently memories are organized for storage in the long term self (Conway et a., 2004) and also on the context of remembering (e.g., life phases; Bluck et al., 2010), challenging memories that contain reasoning are more likely to be further rehearsed and recalled and become life story (Habermas & Bluck, 2000). W ith very little to no reasoning everyday memories (e.g., the non challenging memor ies in this study) are much less likely to be recalled or rehearsed (Gl ck & Bluck & 2007; Pillemer, 2001) and are more likely to be eventually fo rgotten. Reasoning: Stability and Change Themes in Emerging and Older Adulthood Findings concerning age differences in autobiographical reasoning using self event connections (i.e., self stability and self change) are mixed (e.g., Pasupathi & Mansour, 2 006). The current study contributes to the literature by identifying age difference in self change (see also McLean, 2008) in challenging memories and by providing new evidence on life phase specific effects of autobiographical reasoning using self change on core continuity. Age differences in reasoning: self change themes Across the lifespan, individuals become more skilled in using reasoning to connect their life experiences to make a coherent life story (McAdams, 2013). These gains have been documented between adolescence and emerging adulthood ( Habermas & de Silveira, 2008 ) and between young and middle aged adults (Habermas et al., 2013; Singer et al., 2007; Pasupathi & Mansour, 2006). It is not always clear, however, whether older adults (i.e., older than 60 years) produce more self event connections than emerging adults (McLean, 2008; Pasupathi & Mansour, 2006). The current findings suggest the importance of differentiating types of autobiographical reasoning when considering self
71 stability and self c hange themes. Emerging adults showed greater self change themes overall and particularly when narrating challenging life events, than did older adults. There were no age differences in narrating self stability however. This differentiation thus provides a deeper understanding of how young and older individuals reason about different types of life events. preserving gains and preventing losses (Baltes, 19 9 7). This has also been observed in the development of the self across adulthood where younger individuals strive for self exploration and older individuals value self maintenance (Brandtstdter & Greve, 1994). These life phase contexts may thus affect the extent to which e merging and older adults use self stability and self change to narrate their life events. That is, autobiographical reasoning reflects not only the increasing skill that older adults may have for creating a coherent life story but also reflects underlying life phase specific tasks that adult individuals hold at different points in the lifespan (Erikson, 1980). In particular, emerging adults are in a life phase of rapid growth and identity exploration (Arnett, 2000 ; Erikson, 1980 ) where being on a trajector y of change is adaptive and the norm ( Staudinger, Bluck, & Herzberg, 2003) The developmental task in later adulthood focuse s on life review (Butler, 1963) in which forming a sense of integr i ty is the goal (Conway & Holmes, 2004 ; Erikson, 1980 ). The produc tion of more self efforts to forge a personal identity as characteris ti c of emerging adulthood. Consistent with the current findings, McLean (2008) also found more chang e statements in younger 35 years) self Contra r y to
72 McLean (2008) however, the current study did not find that older adults showed more self stability themes in their narratives. This may be th at individuals in the two age groups were looking for stability in the face of challenge. That is, finding a stable sense of self to hold on to in the midst of rupture may be equally important for individuals in different life phases. The challenging conte xt likely demands emerging adults to act more like older adults, i.e., to look for stability. Age differences in relation of self change to global self continuity As just discussed, emerging adults are more likely than older adults to include self change themes overall and particularly when narrating an autobiographical memory of a challenging event. Regardless, older adults also do sometimes include self change statements in their challenging memory narratives In older adults only greater inclusion of self change themes in their challen g ing event narratives was related to lower global self continuity particularly core continuity. developmental goals. In late life, having a sense of integrity about the self and the life lived is an important psychosocial task (Conway & Holmes, 2004). A sense of integrit y own life cycle as meaningful and complete (Erikson, 1980) Core continuity, a sense that there is a continuous thread of who I have always been, may implicitly reflect the construct of integrity. When older adults provide reasoning about how they have changed in the last six years as a result of challenges, this may work against their implicit goal of achieving integrity. Lower core continuity is therefore observed For example, a 70 year old participant reflects on how he r religious beliefs changed in relation to experiencing a life challenge. The participant reflects on
73 how she transitioned from a person who was deeply aff i liated with a religious group and held a set of beliefs for more than 30 years to a person who decid ed not to endorse her long standing beliefs. She stated: to any one religion. I have come to realize that even though religions profess some wonderful things, the way they is generally a kind of attitu de which is known as right and everybody else is wrong. So you know, my m are things that turned me off be connected to. change in her religious beliefs may relate to her diminished sense of core continuity and, theoretically, make it more difficult for her to find a sense of wholeness in the life lived. ion of self change is related to lower self continuity, narrating self change is not problematic in this way for emerging adults. This finding can be interpreted in terms of phase where embracing change and developing new insights are positively related to development (McLean & Pratt, 2006). Their reflection on self change in challenging memories likely reflects normative growth and development of the emerg ing adult identity. Self change is thereby not troublesome for their experience of a sense of self as continuous. For example, this 20 year old participant reflected on how she changed but does so through narrating personal growth. She stated, I think it made me realize that if I really put mysel f to it I could do something else. If I put myself out there. I think it pushed me more out of my comfort zone too because it was individual, but then more
74 like a team. I think it made me feel more confident in myself to do it to more fully rea lize her potential and became a more confident person. This reflection is clearly linked to her emergent personal identity. In sum, narration of change in challenging memory narratives may have different meanings in different life phases. Emerging adults a re in a life phase where they are normatively looking forward ( Staudinger et al., 2003) and striving for growth and change ( Baltes, 199 7) When they reflect on past events, they do so to better develop their own identity (Webster & McCall 1999; Bluck & Al ea, 2008). In o lder adult hood, individuals reflect on life so as to provide integration of the life lived ( Staudinger 2001) As such, narrating self change is life phase consistent for emerging adults but for older adults narrating self change puts them at risk for mai n taining self continuity. Revisiting the RAM SC Model The present study is based on our recent conceptual work, the Role of Autobiographical Memory in Self Continuity model (RAM SC; Bluck & Liao, 2013). Find ings are thus discussed in relation to major tenets of that model. The RAM SC model lays out: (1) the experience of self continuity, (2) the level of self continuity that may be subject to environmental and situational threats (i.e., retrospective self con tinuity), (3) how retrospective self continuity is maintained in everyday life, and (4) how it is re forged after disruptions. The present findings provide some insights reg ar ding m odel. With regard to the assumption that individuals do experience a sense of self continuity, the current study shows that individuals are aware of their experience of self continuity and can report on it. Those reports show that the retrospective sense of self
75 continuity is variable: it is stronger in older than emerging adults. The assumption that retrospective self continuity is sub ject to environmental threats was also supported It appears that retrospective sense of self continuity is subject to life event challenges in both emerging and older adulthood. Given the variety of events in the collected challenging memory narratives, the content of this disruption is highly individualized as theorized When the seamless feeling of being me is disrup ted both emerging and older adults are aware of it and aim to repair it. This is shown in part by their more frequent autobiographical reasoning in challenging than non challenging event narratives. The present findings also suggest modifications to the RAM SC model in relation to assumptions concerning how a sense of self continuity is maintained and how it is re forged. That is, the model currently states that the often unnoticed experience of self continuity is maintained via having a coherent life sto ry (i.e., life story schema as part of the long term self; Conway et al., 2004). It is argued that the self plays a larger role than memory in maintaining retrospective self continuity. When self continuity is challenged autobiographical reasoning is requ ired to forge continuity. The current findings suggest that the relative importan ce of the role of the self, relative to autobiographical memories, should be more seriously considered when conceptualizing how individuals respond in the face of challenge. That is, as discussed earlier, specific types of autobiographical reasoning that one uses in different life phases, and different types of memory may play di stinct roles. Using various types of autobiographical reasoning (e.g., self stability and self chan ge in this study) likely reflects different goals of the self (Conway et al., 2004 ; Conway & Jo bson 20 12 ) that
76 may normatively differ across adulthood, affecting the preferred types of reasoning selected to reframe and narrate a life experience Different types of autobiographical memory (e.g., mundane, self defining, high point, turning point) likely also reflect differential involvement of the self. For maintenance of self continuity, memories that one uses to represent the self should be relevant to ma day and challenging contexts. It is the established invariant part of the self that may best act as now). This idea best resource in the face of challenge is also compatible with the strong relation between self concept clarity and self continuity. Both are aspects of the long term self (Conway et al. 2004). In sum, t he present study highlights the importance of more fully integrating lifespan theoretical constructs to refine the RAM SC model in order to understand the role of autobiographical memory in the essential human experience of self continuit y. Limitations The study has several limitations. These relate to the lack of direct assessment of age differential motivations, the method of assessing autobiographical reasoning, and the cross sectional design. Assessing Age differential Motivations Based on lifes pan developmental theories ( Baltes 1997; Baltes et al., 2006; Brandtstdter, 1999) the age differences in autobiographical reasoning (i.e., self change higher in emerging adults than older adults) were interpreted in terms of age differenti al motivations (i.e., goals that emphasize growth in emerging adulthood vs.
77 maintenance in later life). Similar to past research (e.g., McLean, 2008), however argument is in line with lifespan theoretical principles, this study does not provide age differences in the relation of self change themes in narratives to global self continuity. F orientations (e.g., Ebner, Freud, & Baltes, 2006 ; Wrosch, Schulz & Carver, 2003 ) to clarify this issue. Assessing Autobiographical Reasoning It has long been theorized that autobio graphical reasoning is a critical means for maintaining self continuity, particularly in the face of challenge ( e.g., Bluck & Liao, 2013; Habermas & Kber, 2015 b ; Pasupathi et al., 2007 ) The current study, however, found limited support for this claim Tw o factors may be responsible. Selection of memory type. Participants in the current study reported two memory types: challenging and non challenging memories. A strength of the current research, as compared to past studies, is that it included a compariso n event (i.e., non challenging memories). Autobiographical reasoning across these two memory types, however, shows a weak to no association with global self continuity. As discussed earlier, it is possible that autobiographical reasoning in memories is imp ortant to maintaining self continuity, but not in the selected memory types. Autobiographical reasoning in personally meaningful memories, such as self defining memories (Singer & Blagov, 2004), which have been stored in the autobiographical knowledge based in term self (Conway et al., 2004) may provide an avenue for future research. Individuals report using autobiographical memories to maintain self continuity (Bluck &
78 Alea, 2011; Habermas & K b er, 2015a ) but future research needs to clearly examine the type, content, and valence of the memories that people draw on to serve this function. Valence of autobiographical reasoning. do not benefit and, in fact, their self continuity is diminished when they narrate recent challenging events in terms of self change. Though autobiographical reasoning was assessed in an in depth fashion through reliable content coding, the focus of the coding was on identifying insta nce of self stability versus self change in the memory narratives. This was done without regard to valence of the self change that was narrated As such, the reason that self change is linked to lower self continuity only for older adults may be that olde r adults provided more negative instances of self change than emerging adults. To clari f y this issue, future research might take into account whether self change and self stability in memory narratives are represented as positive or negative. Cross section al Design The current study employed a cross sectional design. C onvenience sample s of college students and older adults were used. Findings from the mediation and moderated mediation analyses should be interpreted with caution. That is, it is possible of self continuity leads to their higher self concept clarity, instead of the reverse direction that was interpret ed in the discussion section. Similarly, older adults showed a relation between self change in their nar ratives and lower core continuity. This relation is also not clearly directional and is likely reciprocal (McLean et al., 2007 ; Wilson & Ross, 2003 ) A longitudinal design (e.g., Troll & Skaff 1997) with multiple data collection points would more clearly identify potential directionality between autobiographical reasoning, self concept clarity, and
79 experience of self continuity. Such a design, if using multiple age cohorts, could also rule out cohort effects. Conclusion A 66 year flection in her challenging memory narrative perfectly captures the focus of this study, i.e., capturing the notion of self continuity. Reflecting on a recent geographical move, she says: fundamentally, I am who I am. So, if I am me in Florida, I can be me in M ontreal R emember ing and shar ing significant moments from our lives helps us maintain biographical identity (Erikson, 1980), to know who we are across space and over time. Th automatic but the conscious experience of being oneself involves complex self and memory processes. There have been debates (Habermas & K ber, 2015 b ) regarding how individuals can maintain a sense of self continuity not only in the face of long periods of time but also when life presents challenging events. A recent review (Prebble et al., 2013) thus calls for empirical studies that assess the experience of self continuity independently from the use of autobiographical memory. Past research assumed the pre sence of autobiographical reasoning, using self stability and self change was itself an indicator of self continuity (e.g., McLean, 2008; Pasupathi et al., 2007) and did not provide such independent assessments. Autobiographical reasoning, however, is a n arrative process linked to thinking and telling about specific events. It is not a valid measure of feelings of self continuity. The current study synthesizes a life span perspective on self development (e.g., Brandtstdter, 1999 ) and the functional appro ach to autobiographical memory (e.g., Baddeley, 1988; Bluck et al., 2010) to address this issue. It contributes to the field by
80 life span (i.e., emerging vs. older adulthood), self and memory processes (i.e., self concept clarity, autobiographical reasoning), and the independently assessed experience of self continuity. The study findings fit well with classic lifespan theories that state the importance of self maintenance in l ate life ( Atchley 1999 ; Brandtstdter & Greve, 1994; Troll & Skaff, 1997). That is, older adults hold a stronger sense of self continuity than emerging adults. In addition the process of maintain ing a sense of self continuity are delineated: through hav ing greater self concept clarity, older adults are able to hold a stronger sense of self continuity than emerging adults. Consistent with past research on the aging self (e.g., Diehl & Hay, 2010, 2011 ; Nygren et al., 2005), older adults appear to have form ed a clearer sense of who they are. They have a well developed long term conceptual self (Conway et al., 2004) that aids them in maintaining self continuity (cf. Habermas & K ber, 2015 b ). Emerging adults are in a life phase where they have not yet fully ac complished the task of creating a clear sense of self and fully understanding the self over time. The study also articulate s the use of autobiographical reasoning in relation to continuity, though partly by revealing unexpected eff ects regarding the role of memory. Autobiographical reasoning using self change was shown continuity. As compared to emerging adults, older adults less frequently engage in using self change to describe the ir challenging memories but when they do, their self continuity is lower. This result could be interpreted in a stereotypical way, imply ing that older adults should no longer pursue
81 change or even growth. Further findings suggest otherwise. A sense that there is continuity in who I have been as a person in part, reflects a sense of integrity, a psychosocial goal that individuals in late life pursue (Erikson, 1980). The finding echoes we cannot live the afternoon of li fe according to the what was great in the morning will be little at evening and Every morning when we wake up, we know immediately who we a re I am me and have always been. You are you and will always be. An essential experience of being human is our sense of self that persists across time as life unfolds. Despite its limitations, the present study contributes to understanding more about this fundamental aspect of human psychology, how individuals make sense of challenging life events to know who they are, and how they maintain a sense of self even in the face of inevitable life changes and challenges.
82 APPENDIX A AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY TASK INSTRUCTIONS Memory Narratives of Non challenging Life Events going to ask you to share 4 memories with me. Most people think of some events when they hear or see som ething such as a picture or a word. So, for the first two memories, I will show you a word and use that word to stimulate a memory about something that happened in the past 6 years. Then once you come up with a memory, I will give you about 7 minutes to share that memory with me. started. Here is the first word (Bus or Corner). We are interested in hearing about a SPECIFIC episode in your life that stands out when you see the word. This can be any type of event. Please choose an event that happened to you in the past six years When you describe the event, please tell EVERYTHING that you can remember about this event. Now, take up one or two minutes to think of one event that is relevant to this word. Let me know when you think of one. Ready? Did this event happen in the past 6 years ? (If no: please think of another one). Please use up to 7 minutes to share the memory with s (say RESEARCH ASST NAME) recording from participant number (say PARTICIPANT NUMBER) for Memory 1 (or Memory 2) may begin. Prompt Question: Can you remember anything else about where you were, what you were doing, thinking or feeling? Ending: Thank you for sharing your story. Memory Narratives of Self challenging Life Events Now I am going to ask you to fill out a survey, and the survey will be used to stimulate the next two memories. This survey asks your overall life experiences. [RA: show the survey to the participants but do not give it to them until you finish your instructions.] This survey lists a number of sometimes bring about change for them events that require some adjustment. Please report those events which you have experienced in the past by circling YES. For each event, first indicate whether the event happened in 2008 or before, circle YES or NO. Then move to the second column to indicate whether the event happened since 2 009 by circling YES or NO.
83 [RA: Show the survey to Ps, point to the boxes that they need to fill in]. After you say you. [RA: pause] So for each event that happened since 2010, that is, you circled YES in the second column, please indicate how much the event challenged your sense of who you are, even for a short time. People have such events happen often in their lives that somehow affect how they feel about who they are F or example, i n everyday life you hear people say things like: Somehow when that happened After that happened, I just felt like a different person. really the person I had always thought I was. So think about that as you make your ratings. For each event, if your sense of self was not self was extremely ee to use all the points on the scale. At the end of the survey, there are blank boxes for you to fill in. Please write down at least two additional events that are not listed but challeng ed your sense of who you are. [RA: turn to the final page, show the P those blank boxes. We want to encourage the P to fill it out] Okay, do you have any questions about filling that in ? please hand it back to me. After getting the survey from the pa rticipant of your events now, and after that, I will give instructions for you to share a third memory [ RA : u se highlighters to mark events that score over 2 (i.e., scores 3 7 ) in SECTION B. ] Okay, now I would like you to share a third memory with me. I will give you a couple minutes to think of a specific event, and you will have about 7 minutes to share the memory with me. Okay? Alright. For the third memory, we are interested in hearing about a SPECIFIC episo de in your life that stands out: A time when you experienced that your sense of who you are was challenged yourself made you felt like a different person, [RA pause] or made you felt that ma ybe really the person you had always thought you were, even for a short time.
84 So please use Section B of the Life Experiences Survey that you just filled out to choose a highlighted event like this from your own life. The event should have hap pened in the past six years. Now please review your answers and pick one specific highlighted event from the checklist. Let me know when you have chosen an event. Okay, please let me know which event you are referring to from the survey. Did this event happen in the past six years ? Okay. When you describe the event, please tell EVERYTHING that you can remember about this event. Before you start, please identify which event you are referring to from the survey. SEARCH ASST NAME) recording from participant number (say PARTICIPANT NUMBER) for Memory 3 (or Memory 4) may begin. Prompt Question: Can you remember anything else about where you were, what you were doing, thinking or feeling? Ending: Sometimes it can be difficult to share memories like this. Thank you for sharing your story with me
85 APPENDIX B LIFE EXPERIENCES SURVEY Section A 1. Marriage 2. Engagement 3. Outstanding personal achievement 4. New job 5. Gaining a new family member (through birth, adoption, etc .) 6. Marital reconciliation with mate 7. Reconciliation with boyfriend or girlfriend 8. Son or daughter leaving home (due to marriage, college, etc.) 9. Ending of formal schooling 10. Beginning a new school experience at a higher academic level (college, graduate school professional school, etc.) 11. Changing a major 12. Joining a fraternity or sorority Section B 13. Detention in jail or comparable institution 14. Death of spouse 15. Death of close family member including a. mother b. father c. brother d. sister e. grandmother f. grandfather g. other: _____ 16. Death of a close friend 17. Serious illness or injury of close family member including: a. mother b. father c. brother d. sister e. grandmother f. grandfather g. spouse h. other: _______ 18. 19. Fe male: unwanted pregnancy 20. Being fired from job 21. Changed work situation in a negative way 22. Trouble with employer (in danger of losing job, being suspended, demoted, etc.) 23. Trouble with in laws 24. Major negative change in closeness of family members (decreased clos eness) 25. Sexual difficulties
86 26. Divorce 27. Marital separation from mate (due to conflict) 28. Unwanted separation from mate (due to work, travel, etc.) 29. Major increase in number of arguments with spouse 30. 31. Breaking up with boyfriend or girlfriend 32. Major negative change in church activities 33. Major negative change in usual type and/or amount of recreation 34. Major negative change in financial statu s 35. Borrowing more than $10,000 (buying home, business, etc.) 36. Borrowing less than $10,000 (buying TV, car, getting school loan) 37. Financial problems concerning school (in danger of not having sufficient money to continue) 38. Forced retirement from work 39. Female: ab ortion 40. Major personal illness or injury 41. Major negative change in eating habits 42. Major negative change in sleeping habits 43. Major negative change in social activities 44. Major negative change in living conditions of family 45. Serious injury or illness of close frie nd 46. Homesickness (e.g., leaving home for the first time; moving away from home) 47. Negative change of residence 48. Changing to a new school at same academic level (undergraduate, graduate, etc.) 49. Academic probation 50. Being dismissed from dormitory or other residenc e 51. Failing an important exam 52. Failing a course 53. Other life challenges which have had negative impact on you. List below:
87 APPENDIX C CODING MANUAL FOR AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL REASONING USING SELF STABILITY AND SELF CHANGE IN CHALLENGING AND NON CHALLENGING MEMORY NARRATIVES Overview This coding scheme asses se s how individuals explicitly narrate the self in relation to the targeted life event that they personally experienced. This coding construct consists of two types. The pers on expresses o r indicates that: (1) the self remains stable despit e the challenging life events (s elf stability), or (2) the self has changed due to the challenging life events ( s elf change). That is, coders should concern questions regarding: Does the person indica te aspects of the self in their autobiographical narratives ? about Defining the s elf Broadly, the self is defined as the total of all that I can call mine. Longstanding investment and the identification of importance are critical criteria to descrip tions involv ing the following should be counted : Personality, attitudes/values, personal preferences, or goals. Dispositional statements about the self should be counted People may feel a range of positive and negative emotions ; these emotions can be counted only when they directly link to self and identity. Emotional states due to an event (i.e., situational) should not be counted (i.e., I was sad when I got hurt). The indication of self conscious emotions (e.g., pride, guilt) may more often reflect own attributes or actions) and is likely telling something about themselves. But coders should still review the text carefully. They should not be automatically counted Determine a t arget e vent A target eve nt is a specific event with clear boundaries. It contains specific information about when, where, or what (e.g., I went to a Christian summer camp in Atlanta when I was in 7th grade) If the participants did not describe a specific event, then a general event (experience) will be counted as the target event (e.g., I t ake bus es wherever I go)
88 Use time points to determine stability or change To assess either change or stability be explicitly stated Most of the time, two time points would be T1 during the event and T2 after the event. Knowing only one time point (e.g., during the event only) does not allow us to know if the narrator was that way before, or continued to be that way after th e event (i.e., stability, change). times outside the critical event. For example, I am shy. menti oning long standing (that is, over time) characteristics. Either of these are okay. But anyhow, two time points (at least) must be mentioned or do not code either stability or change. Self stability : Illustrate and Incorporate Individuals expressed a stable sense of self when narrating challenging life events. That is, the narration shows/demonstrates/explains who I am, who I have always been, or who I will always be. This includes two subtypes: the event ( 1 ) illustrates some tr aits, longstanding qualities that I possess, and/or ( 2 ) is incorporated to be part of me under the umbrella of the existing self. Coders should always specify which subcategory (SS Illustrate or SS Incorporate) is assigned This facilitate s our later discussion. SS i llustrate Events show/demonstrate longstanding traits, qualities, values, habits, possesses. You should give a code of SS illustrate when you see an idea unit contains any of the following three types of expressions: Illustrate: express who I am. 1) Explicit, firm statements about the self being the same. When the person expresses s/he is the same person, assign a n SS illustrate code. For 2) possesses (Pasupathi & Mansour, 2 006). The event happened the way it did because I (am this type of person, have this type of goal or skill). Or, this experience shows that I am this kind of person, possess this type of goal, personality, attitudes, beliefs, personal background, etc. 3) Imp ortant factual or subjective details about me (Bluck et al., 2016). Ethnicity and cultural background should be counted as they are often Cuban American ; in
89 out me that indicate general life (e.g., I have talent in music; I like to enjoy the moment; my life has been a struggle). Discount: explain who I am not. A code of SS illustrate should also be given when a person discounts certain self descriptions in order to as a bad person when describing the target event (Pasupathi & Mansour, 2006). am not a failure; I am not a screw the person failed to submit a paper on time or was caught when committing petty crimes. SS incorporate. SS incorporate is another way of expressing stability of the self. In narratives, events are in cluded as an exemplar that reflect qualities For example, the person indicates the meaning or ongoing Blagov, 2000). Since the event happened, some aspects of the event are transformed to be part of the existing self system. But, the existing self system remains stable. Self change : Induce and Reveal The persons express the self as changed because of the target event. That is, the experience made me a certain type of person, provided me with a certain skill, induced a certain goal, or revealed who I am. The event causes the self description. This includes two subtypes: the self ( 1 ) is induced by the event and/or ( 2 ) the self is revealed by the event Coders should always specify which subcategory (SC Induce or SC Reveal) is assigned This facilitates our later discussion. SC Induce The following two expressions should be counted. E xplicit, firm statements of self change due to the event When the person does not tell which aspects of the self ha ve been changed but explicitly state that s/he changed, assign a SC me. Since the n R eflect a self conception that was induced by the event. The event causes the self description. For example, one narrative recounts the experience of becoming a believer in God as a little boy, during a transformational conversation with t he conversation (Pasupathi & Mansour, 2006).
90 SC Reveal. The following expressions should be counted Narrators r eflect a self conception that is a revelation from experience. That is, more envious than I had previously realized (Pasupathi & Mansour, 2006). For me where, I realized how, I guess, shy and embarrassed I could be or how hard it was for me to actually get up the guts to Tips : on of the self.
91 APPENDIX D ORIENTATION MEMORY CONCENTRATION TEST Now I would like to ask you some questions to check your memory and concentration. Some of them may be easy and some of them may be hard. 1. Wha t year is it now? Score: Correct = 0, Incorrect = 4 2. What month is this? Score: Correct = 0, Incorrect = 3 Please repeat this name and address after me: Jane Smith, 37 Elm Street, Chicago Good. Now remember that name and address for a few minutes 3. Without looking at your watch or c lock, tell me what time it is. (If response is vague, prompt for specific response within 1 hour) Score: Correct = 0, Incorrect = 3 4. Count aloud backwards from 20 to 1 (mark correctly sequenced numerals if subject starts counting forward or forgets the task, repeat instructions and score one error) Score = # of errors x 2; Max errors =2; Correct = 0, Incorrect = 2 4 5. Say the months of the year in reverse order. Dec Nov Oct Sept Aug Jul Jun May Apr Mar Feb Jan If the tester needs to prompt with the last name of the month of the year to begin with, one error should be scored mark correctly sequenced months. Score = # of errors x 2, Max errors = 2; Correct = 0, Incorrect = 2 4 6. Repeat the name and address you were asked to remember ( Jane Smith, 37 Elm St reet, Chicago ) Score = # of errors x 2, Max errors =5; Correct = 0, Incorrect = 2 10 Total Error Score: __/ 28 Cut off for participation = 6
92 APPENDIX E COGNITIVE ABILITY Vocabulary Instructions: We are interested in your knowledge of the meanings of words. Please complete each of the following items with the alternative that best fits the sentence. For instance, consider the example below: A linguist is trained in: a. art b. law c. language d. writing e. history For this question, you would have chosen c above. That is, a linguist is trained in language. There are 24 more items for you to work on Please begin whenever you are ready. Click the best answer for each item. 1. Uniform objects are: a. similar b. decorated c. manufactured d. complet e e. new 2. To gain eminence means to gain: a. wealth b. health c. distinction d. happiness e. knowledge 3. An acrid taste is: a. cloying b. milky c. soothing d. bitter e. neutral 4. A casualty is an: a. expedition b. accident c. effect d. insurance e. acc usation 5. Feverish activity is: a. rapid b. dangerous c. medical d. childish e. useless 6. Idolatry involves: a. worship b. masonry c. laziness d. thieving e. preaching 7. To show clemency is to show: a. wisdom b. fear c. leniency d. revenge e. tolerance 8. To feign is to: a. fret b. faint c. molest d. pretend e. portend 9. A variegated article is: a. green b. obscure c. parti colored d. ill fitting e. dirty 10. A heinous act is: a. timely b. altruistic c. impulsive d. sincere e. outrageous 11. A garrulous person is: a. talkative b. homely c. sedate d poor e. huge 12. A parable is a: a. dialogue b. fable c. playlet d. doctrine e. miracle 13. Rampant means: a. uncouth b. unearthly c. intense d. unrestrained e. riotous 14. A deplorable act is: a. unfortunate b. revealing c. fatal d. destructive e. insane 15. Omnipotent means: a. all wise b. forgiving c. tolerant d. avenging e. all powerful
93 16. Ethereal means: a. rugged b. idling c. inhospitable d. airy e. alternate 17. To extol is to: a. exalt b. compare c. r e tell d. complain e. ponder 18. A prosaic person is: a. witty b. intelligent c. dull d. abusive e. poetic 19. A presumptuous person is: a. humble b. designing c. audacious d. witty e. subtle 20 Homeopathy is a branch of: a. domestic science b. physics c. geology d. religion e. medicine 2 1 A lewd person is: a. shallow b. stingy c. sanctimonious d. depraved e. shrewd 22 An incumbent burden is: a. obligatory b. hateful c. annoying d. bulky e. bearable 2 3 A troglodyte is a: a. singer b. deposit c. surveyor 2 4 An officious person is: a. thoughtful b. meddlesome c. queer d. faithful e. democratic Episodic Memory Instructions: You will hear a series of words at the rate of approximately one word every 2 seconds. When you hear the beep at the end of the word list orally recall as many of the words as you can remember. You can tell them to the assistant in any order. Words to remember: desk, ranger, bird, shoe, stove, mountain, glasses, towel, cloud, silver, lamb, gun, p encil, church, fish
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102 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Hsiao Wen Liao was born in Taipei Taiwan. She grew up in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and E ducational Psychology and C ounseling at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) She was one of the first students to be accepted by the dual an innovative collaboration between NTNU and the University of Missouri Columbia. During her graduate training she became interested in researc h She worked as Dr. Ching time research assistant. When she took a seminar course taught by Dr. Cheng, a paper written by Conway and Pleydell Pearce in 2000 inspired her She decided to understand more about the interplay between the sel f and autobiographical memory S he examining self defining memor ies of a turning point in relation to identity development. Working as a full time research assistant for Dr. Cheng for two years after receiving h er Hsiao Wen was prepared to pursue her doctoral degree in the USA. S he met her advisor and mentor, Dr. Susan Bluck at the University of Florida Hsiao Wen feels she has been very fo rtunate to be able to have great mentors throughout her graduate training and work on topics she is very passionate about In the future, she hopes to establish her program of research that fully incorporates a lifespan developmental perspective to delineate the bi directional relation between the self and auto biographical memory across adulthood and in late life.