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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

McLean, Kate C.

Second Advisor

Czopp, Alex

Third Advisor

Goodvin, Rebecca


Personal narratives have been shown to play an important role in creating a stable sense of self, yet little research has examined this in experimental designs. Thus, this study explored the utility of narrative, in comparison to other mechanisms (e.g., self-affirmation, distraction), for coping with threats to self-concept by examining affective and cognitive repair after experiencing a threat. Participants (N = 331) received false physiological feedback suggesting a prejudiced response to African Americans and obese people and were induced to complete one of five repair techniques. Participants also completed affect and self-concept measures pre-study, post-threat, and post-repair. Overall, threat-specific and high-point narratives did not differ from other groups in their ability to overcome selfconcept threat, but high-point narratives were particularly effective in enacting affective repair. However, individual differences in the threat-specific narratives moderated the effectiveness of this condition, so that more skilled story-telling was associated with more repair. These results suggest that while narrative processing is an effective method of maintaining a stable self-concept for people who have the appropriate skills and content to draw on, it is by no means necessary. Other self-maintenance techniques, such as remembering positive experiences unrelated to the threat, are also effective in maintaining self-meaning and may be more strategic responses to situations when the capacity for quality narrative reflection is low.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Self-perception; Autobiographical memory--Psychological aspects; Narration (Rhetoric)--Psychological aspects




masters theses




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