Zorana Ivcevic

Zorana Ivcevic, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Associate

Tufts University

Contact Information:

490 Boston Avenue
Department of Psychology
Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155

Telephone: (603) 866-9878

E-mail : zorana.ivcevic@tufts.edu

Cultural scripts guide recall of intensely positive life events

Collins, K. A., Pillemer, D. B., Ivcevic, Z., & Gooze, R. A. (2007).   Cultural scripts guide recall of intensely positive life events. Memory and Cognition, 35, 651-659..

Four studies examined the temporal distribution of positive and negative memories of momentous life events. College students and middle age adults reported events occurring between ages 8 and 18 in which they felt especially good or especially bad about themselves. Distributions of positive memories showed a marked peak at ages 17 and 18. In contrast, distributions of negative memories were relatively flat. These patterns were consistent for younger and older adults, for males and females, and when using directed and open-ended memory probes. Content analyses indicated that a substantial proportion of positive (but not negative) memories from late adolescence described culturally-prescribed landmark events. When participants were asked for recollections from other life periods that lack obvious age-linked milestone events, age distributions of positive and negative memories were similar. The results support and extend Berntsen and RubinŐs (2004) conclusion that cultural expectations or life scripts organize recall of positive but not negative events.