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Psychol Bull. 2001 Sep;127(5):651-72.

The social construction of the personal past and its implications for adult development.

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Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112, USA.


This article examines conversational recounting about experiences as a potential mechanism by which people socially construct themselves and their worlds over the life span and the resulting implications for understanding adult development. Two principles governing conversational recounting of past events are proposed: coconstruction (the joint influences of speakers and contexts on conversational reconstructions of past events) and consistency (the influence of a conversational reconstruction on subsequent memory). Operating together, the principles provide an account for how autobiographical memory is socially constructed. In addition, the principles may illuminate how conversations about the past can influence the development of identity in adulthood.

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