College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Coping with Stressful Events: Use of Cognitive Words in Stressful Narratives and the Meaning-Making Process

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2011

Publication Title

Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

ISSN

0736-7236

Volume

30

Abstract

the use of cognitive words in narratives of negative events and the association with the meaning-making process were examined. Cognitive word use, a past predictor of beneficial outcomes from the expressive writing intervention, was related to the process of meaning making in Study 1. This finding was true for memories that lacked psychological closure. In Study 2, we replicated the finding that cognitive word use is related to the meaning-making process using an alternative measure of meaning making. However, cognitive word use was not found to be related to the outcome of meaning making. The extent to which participants were engaged in meaning-making was negatively related to narrative coherence. These results suggest that the meaning-making process may be a precursor to achieving narrative coherence. Additionally, participants randomly assigned to expressive writing instructions engaged in the meaning-making process to a greater extent than participants asked to simply describe their negative event, suggesting that expressive writing encourages the meaning-making process.

DOI

10.1521/jscp.2011.30.4.378

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