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See detailSelf-defining future projections: exploring the identity function of thinking about the future
D'Argembeau, Arnaud ULg; Lardi, Claudia; Van der Linden, Martial ULg

in Memory (2012), 20

The act of projecting oneself into meaningful future events may significantly contribute to a person’s sense of self and identity. Yet, if the role of memories, in particular self-defining memories (SDMs ... [more ▼]

The act of projecting oneself into meaningful future events may significantly contribute to a person’s sense of self and identity. Yet, if the role of memories, in particular self-defining memories (SDMs), in grounding the self is now well established, the identity function of anticipated future events has received comparatively little attention. This article introduces the construct of self-defining future projection (SDFP) to address this issue. Two studies show that people can readily identify significant future events that they frequently think about and that convey core information about who they are as individuals. Furthermore, a person’s particular style of constructing SDMs is similarly manifested in SDFPs, suggesting that both types of events can be used to ground the self. Notably, people who display a stronger tendency to extract meaning from their past experiences also reflect more about the potential implications of imagined future events. The results further demonstrate that SDMs and SDFPs both give rise to a strong sense of personal continuity over time and are meaningfully related to self-esteem. Together, these findings lend support to the idea that a person’s sense of self and identity is in part nourished by the anticipation of significant future events. [less ▲]

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See detailNarrative identity in schizophrenia.
Raffard, Stephane; D'Argembeau, Arnaud ULg; Lardi, Claudia et al

in Consciousness & Cognition (2010), 19(1), 328-40

This study examined narrative identity in a group of 81 patients with schizophrenia and 50 healthy controls through the recall of self-defining memories. The results indicated that patients' narratives ... [more ▼]

This study examined narrative identity in a group of 81 patients with schizophrenia and 50 healthy controls through the recall of self-defining memories. The results indicated that patients' narratives were less coherent and elaborate than those of controls. Schizophrenia patients were severely impaired in the ability to make connections with the self and extract meaning from their memories, which significantly correlated with illness duration. In agreement with earlier research, patients exhibited an early reminiscence bump. Moreover, the period of the reminiscence bump, which is highly relevant for identity development, was characterized by fewer achievements and more life-threatening event experiences, compared with controls. A negative correlation was found between negative symptoms, number of self-event connections and specificity of narratives. Our results suggest that schizophrenia patients have difficulties to organize and extract meaning from their past experiences in order to create coherent personal narratives. [less ▲]

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See detailFurther characterisation of self-defining memories in young adults: a study of a Swiss sample.
Lardi, Claudia; D'Argembeau, Arnaud ULg; Chanal, Julien et al

in Memory (2010), 18(3), 293-309

Several individual differences affecting four dimensions of self-defining memories (SDMs)--structure, content, affect, and autobiographical reasoning (Blagov & Singer, 2004; McLean & Fournier, 2008 ... [more ▼]

Several individual differences affecting four dimensions of self-defining memories (SDMs)--structure, content, affect, and autobiographical reasoning (Blagov & Singer, 2004; McLean & Fournier, 2008; Singer & Salovey, 1993)--have been observed in young adults (principally in North America). In this study we aimed to investigate the relationships between the different dimensions of SDMs, providing further evidence of the content validity of the Self-Defining Memory task. It was possible to discern two specific profiles from the three SDMs collected from each participant. Almost half the participants retrieved specific SDMs with little autobiographical reasoning and tension; the other participants retrieved an opposite profile, suggesting that there are individual differences in the cognitive and affective processes related to the construction of SDMs. The second aim of the study was to conduct across-cultural extension of research on SDMs, using a sample of Swiss young adults. The results were similar to those obtained by previous studies, suggesting a certain cultural invariability. The only difference observed concerned the number of SDMs containing meaning making. Swiss young adults attribute more explicit meanings to their memories than North American young adults, suggesting that they are more engaged in autobiographical reasoning. [less ▲]

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See detailExploring self-defining memories in schizophrenia.
Raffard, Stephane; D'Argembeau, Arnaud ULg; Lardi, Claudia et al

in Memory (2009), 17(1), 26-38

Previous studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia are impaired in recalling specific events from their personal past. However, the relationship between autobiographical memory impairments and ... [more ▼]

Previous studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia are impaired in recalling specific events from their personal past. However, the relationship between autobiographical memory impairments and disturbance of the sense of identity in schizophrenia has not been investigated in detail. In this study the authors investigated schizophrenic patients' ability to recall self-defining memories; that is, memories that play an important role in building and maintaining the self-concept. Results showed that patients recalled as many specific self-defining memories as healthy participants. However, patients with schizophrenia exhibited an abnormal reminiscence bump and reported different types of thematic content (i.e., they recalled less memories about past achievements and more memories regarding hospitalisation and stigmatisation of illness). Furthermore, the findings suggest that impairments in extracting meaning from personal memories could represent a core disturbance of autobiographical memory in patients with schizophrenia. [less ▲]

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