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Social Cognition, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2005, pp. 91-117

TALE OF THR.EE FUNCTIONS

A TALE OF THREE FUNCTIONS: THE SELF–REPORTED USES OF AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY

Susan Bluck and Nicole Alea University of Florida

Tilmann Habermas University of Frankfurt

David C. Rubin Duke University

Theories hold that autobiographical memory serves several broad functions (directive, self, and social). In the current study, items were derived from the theoretical literature to create the Thinking About Life Experiences (TALE) questionnaire to empirically assess these three functions. Participants (N = 167) completed the TALE. To examine convergent validity, they also rated their overall tendency to think about and to talk about the past and completed the Reminiscence Functions Scale (Webster, 1997). The results lend support to the existence of these theoretical functions, but also offer room for refinements in future thinking about both the breadth and specificity of the functions that autobiographical memory serves.

Memory research in general, and research on autobiographical memory (AM) in particular, has focused on how, how much, and how accurately, people remember their past. Despite the importance of these aspects of remembering, they do not offer a full palette for understanding human memory. Two relatively understudied areas

Susan Bluck, Center for Gerontological Studies and Department of Psychology, Univer- sity of Florida; Nicole Alea, Department of Psychology, University of Florida; Tilmann Habermas, Institute for Psychoanalysis, University of Frankfurt; David Rubin, Psychology Department, Duke University. Correspondence concerning this article should be ad- dressed to Susan Bluck, University of Florida, P.O. Box 115911, Gainesville, FL 32611–5911; E-mail: bluck@ufl.edu.

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