We discuss findings on evaluative conditioning (EC) that are problematic for the account of learning, namely, dissociations between conscious beliefs and acquired (dis)liking. We next argue that, both for EC and for Pavlovian learning in general, conditioned responding cannot rationally be inferred from propositional knowledge type and that, therefore, performance cannot be explained.
In order to explain trauma resilience, previous research has been investigating possible risk and protective factors, both on an individual and a contextual level. In this experimental study, we examined narrative coherence and social support in relation to trauma resilience. Participants were asked to write about a turning point memory, after which they did the Maastricht Acute Stress Test, our lab analog of a traumatic event. Following, half of the participants received social support, whereas the other half did not. Afterwards, (...) all participants wrote a narrative on the traumatic event. Moment-to-moment fluctuations in psychological and physiological well-being throughout the experiment were investigated with state anxiety questionnaires and cortisol measures. Results showed that narratives of traumatic experiences were less coherent than narratives of turning point memories. However, contrary to our predictions, coherence, and, in particular, thematic coherence, related positively to anxiety levels. Possibly, particular types of thematic coherence are a non-adaptive form of coping, which reflect unfinished attempts at meaning-making and are more similar to continuous rumination than to arriving at a resolution. Furthermore, coherence at baseline could not buffer against the impact of trauma on anxiety levels in this study. Contrary to our hypotheses, social support did not have the intended beneficial effects on coherence, neither on well-being. Multiple explanations as to why our support manipulation remained ineffective are suggested. Remarkably, lower cortisol levels at baseline and after writing about the turning point memory predicted higher coherence in the trauma narratives. This may suggest that the ability to remain calm in difficult situations does relate to the ability to cope adaptively with future difficult experiences. Clinical and social implications of the present findings are discussed, and future research recommendations on the relations between narrative coherence, social support, and trauma resilience are addressed. (shrink)
Individuals develop a narrative identity through constructing and internalizing an evolving life story composed of significant autobiographical memories. The ability to narrate these memories in a coherent manner has been related to well-being, identity functioning, and personality pathology. Previous studies have particularly focused on coherence of life story narratives, overlooking coherence of single event memories that make up the life story. The present study addressed this gap by examining associations between narrative coherence of single turning point memories and psychological well-being, (...) identity functioning, and personality disorder symptoms among 333 Belgian emerging adults. In addition, the present study tested whether narrative coherence could predict unique variance in PD symptoms above and beyond identity and interpersonal functioning, both considered key components of personality pathology. The findings showed that narrative coherence was not significantly related to psychological well-being, but yielded significant negative associations with disturbed identity functioning and antisocial PD symptoms. Furthermore, narrative coherence predicted unique variance in antisocial PD symptoms above and beyond identity functioning, but did not predict unique variance in borderline and antisocial PD symptoms above and beyond both identity and interpersonal functioning. Collectively, these findings suggest that narrative incoherence within single event memories might be characteristic for disturbed identity functioning and antisocial personality pathology. (shrink)
Recent empirical work indicates that reduced autobiographical memory specificity can act as an avoidant processing style. By truncating the memory search before specific elements of traumatic memories are accessed, one can ward off the affective impact of negative reminiscences. This avoidant processing style can be viewed as an instance of what Erdelyi describes as the “subtractive” class of repressive processes.
The coherence of autobiographical memories plays an important role in psychological well-being, as borne out by recent studies. This study aimed to advance this understanding by assessing whether coherence predicted depressive symptoms over time in adults. Further, it aimed to specify mediators through which this association might occur, namely psychological resources of self-esteem self-efficacy, meaning in life, and optimism. A sample of 160 participants completed surveys at three time-points spaced 1 week apart. The surveys contained measures of the perceived coherence (...) of life stories and autobiographical memories, psychological resources, and depressive symptoms. The results of a path analysis model, controlling for depressive symptoms at baseline, indicated that perceived causal coherence was the only unique predictor of later depressive symptoms, and that this occurred through positive self-concept, represented by self-esteem and self-efficacy. Limitations of the study include no examination of cultural background as a moderating factor and the short time-intervals. Overall, the findings provide further evidence that the perception of how events have unfolded and impacted on one's life and sense of self is particularly important in mitigating depressive symptoms. It extends on our understanding by showing this occurs through changes in self-concept. (shrink)
Research QuestionsIn a first research question, we examined whether the relations that are generally observed between the coherence of written autobiographical narratives and outcomes of mental health and social support, can be replicated for the coherence of oral narratives. Second, we studied whether the coherence of oral narratives is related to the coherence of written narratives.MethodsPearson correlations and t-tests were calculated on data of two separate studies to examine the research questions.ResultsFirst, only thematic coherence of oral narratives was significantly, although (...) moderately, negatively associated to symptoms of depression, anxiety and negative social interactions. Second, the coherence of oral narratives was higher than the coherence of written narratives. Only the thematic coherence of oral narratives was positively associated with thematic and total coherence of written narratives. Furthermore, correlations between written and oral narratives were stronger for negative narratives as compared to positive narratives.DiscussionThe ability to elaborate emotionally and make meaning out of important life events in oral narratives is, to a certain extent, related to better mental health and more social support. Furthermore, thematic coherence may be a relatively stable feature of individuals’ narrative styles that is reflected in narratives of different modalities. Nonetheless, these topics need to be further researched to overcome present limitations. (shrink)