Weststrate, Ferrari, Fournier, & McLean, 2018 (Best Worst Day of Life - Narrative Content, Structure, and Process in Wisdom-Fostering Life Event Memories).pdf (254.91 kB)
"it was the best worst day of my life": Narrative Content, Structure, and Process in Wisdom-Fostering Life Event Memories
journal contributionposted on 2023-04-06, 18:43 authored by Nicholas WeststrateNicholas Weststrate, Michel Ferrari, Marc A. Fournier, Kate C. McLean
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine laypeople's subjective understanding of their own wisdom development. To do this, autobiographical memories of wisdom-fostering life events were examined for (a) life-event characteristics, and (b) self-reflective processes believed to support growth in wisdom through life experience. Methods: Midlife adults (N = 482) provided a written autobiographical memory of a wisdom-fostering life event. Memories were content analyzed by expert coders for life-event characteristics (i.e., fundamentality, emotional valence, cultural normativity, and specific event types) and self-reflective processes (i.e., narrative coherence, meaning-making, and personal growth). Participants also completed self-report and performance measures of wisdom. Results: Wisdom-fostering life events tended to be fundamental to life, culturally non-normative, and emotionally negative. Participants frequently reported developing wisdom from relationship events (e.g., interpersonal conflict, divorce) and life-threatening/mortality events (e.g., death, serious illness). Wisdom was positively associated with reconstructive (i.e., narrative coherence) and analytical (i.e., meaning-making, personal growth) components of self-reflection. Self-reflective processes varied as a function of life-event characteristics. Discussion: This study emphasizes the role of both persons and environments in the development of wisdom, and highlights the importance of self-reflection as a mechanism through which wisdom is constructed from life experience.
CitationWeststrate, N. M., Ferrari, M., Fournier, M. A.McLean, K. C. (2018). "it was the best worst day of my life": Narrative Content, Structure, and Process in Wisdom-Fostering Life Event Memories. Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 73(8), 1359-1373. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gby005
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
Autobiographical memoryLife experienceNarrativeSelf-reflectionWisdom5203 Clinical and Health Psychology52 PsychologyClinical ResearchBehavioral and Social Science3 Good Health and Well BeingAdultAgedCultureEmotionsFemaleHuman DevelopmentHumansLife Change EventsMaleMemory, EpisodicMiddle AgedNarrationGerontologyClinical SciencesPsychologySociology