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Title:The organization and retrieval of life events by happy and unhappy persons
Author(s):Seidlitz, Larry Michael
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Diener, Edward F.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Psychology, Personality
Abstract:Three studies examined the relation of subjective well-being to the organization and retrieval of valenced life events. In Study 1, Ss (N = 152) reviewed six positive and six negative life events they previously had indicated occurred. After a 40 min distractor task, they received a surprise recall test of the events. Only a weak and unreliable relation of long-term well-being to the relative accessibility of the positive versus negative events was obtained. In Study 2, Ss (N = 157) completed a diary for 43 days describing their best event and worst event of each day, and rating the intensity and duration of their reaction to each of the events. A surprise recall test of the events followed on the 44th day. No relations between well-being and recall of positive versus negative events were obtained. However, happy Ss had more intense reactions to their positive events and less enduring reactions to their negative events than unhappy Ss, suggesting the reactions might have affected well-being by becoming conditioned to general self-related concepts. In Study 3, Ss (N = 171) recalled 33 events that systematically varied with respect to both their valence and the domain of life in which they occurred (parents versus school). Positive and negative events occurring in the same domain as the immediately preceding event were recalled faster if the preceding event was positive, suggesting that life events are organized in memory according to the domain in which they occur, and that Ss perseverated on the positive events. Events having the same valence as the preceding event, however, were recalled no faster than those having an opposite valence, suggesting that life events are not organized according to their valence. It was concluded that neither the organization nor the retrieval of life events contributed to differences in subjective well-being, but that emotional reactions to valenced life events might affect well-being by becoming associated with general self-related concepts activated at the time the events occur.
Issue Date:1993
Rights Information:Copyright 1993 Seidlitz, Larry Michael
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9411778
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9411778

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