Degree Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Kristi Costabile

Abstract

According to previous work on autobiographical memory, reflecting on significant life episodes functions to support a positive self-concept (Bluck, Alea, Habermas, & Rubin, 2005; Conway, 1996; Fivush, 1998; McAdams, 1985) and facilitates emotion regulation (Bluck, 2003; Koole, 2009; Öner & Gülgöz, 2018; Wilson & Ross, 2003). As autobiographical memories have been linked with basic the psychological need for competence (Philippe, Koestner, Beaulieu-Pelletier, & Lecours, 2011; Sheldon, Elliot, Kim, & Kasser, 2001), the present project conducted three experiments to examine whether autobiographical memory can function to regulate competence need satisfaction.

Experiment 1 manipulated competence need satisfaction and tested whether reflecting on a competence-satisfying memory would be effective at improving competence need satisfaction for those who had it threatened. The results indicated that competence need satisfaction increased for individuals after they reflected on a time of competence success regardless of whether their need for competence had been threatened. Experiment 2 threatened competence need satisfaction for all participants and tested whether a need-relevant memory would be more effective at improving competence need satisfaction than a need-irrelevant memory. Additionally, Experiment 2 examined whether autobiographical memory would predict competence need satisfaction and in turn, affect, self-esteem and optimism. The results indicated that need-relevant memories were not necessary for improving need satisfaction; however, neutral memories did not contribute to need satisfaction and well-being to the same degree as competence-satisfying and relatedness-satisfying memories. Experiment 3 incorporated the same competence need satisfaction manipulation as Experiment 1, but gave participants an opportunity to choose the topic of a memory to report. The results indicated that participants were not more likely to select a competence-satisfying memory over a relatedness-satisfying memory; however, those who reflected on a competence-focused memory reported greater competence need satisfaction than those who reflected on a relationship-focused memory. Contrary to Experiment 2, the results of Experiment 3 were consistent with mediation effects, and provided support for the prediction that competence-focused memories predicted competence need satisfaction and in turn, well-being (positive affect, self-esteem, and optimism). The results of the present experiments highlight how autobiographical memory functions to satisfy basic psychological needs and well-being.

Copyright Owner

AdrienneAustin

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

File Size

186 pages

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