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BLUCK ET AL.

DISCUSSION

Three theoretical functions of AM, a directive, self, and social func- tion, have been mentioned repeatedly in the literature. The aim of the current study was to examine whether those three broad functions could be reproduced empirically. As a preliminary step in that direc- tion, we obtained self–reports from a reasonably large group of par- ticipants using the newly developed TALE questionnaire, which measures the frequency with which individuals use AM for a variety of different reasons (reflective of directive, self, and social functions). The results lend some support to the existence of the three theoretical functions, but also offer room for refinement in our thinking about the breadth and specificity of the functions of AM. The findings are discussed in greater detail below.

A TALE OF THREE FUNCTIONS?

The results of our factor analysis of the TALE suggest that: (1) the Di- rective function appears broader than originally conceptualized, (2) the Self function is narrower than originally conceptualized and clearly focused on self–continuity, and (3) the Social function is rep- resented in two separate subscales. Our TALE of three functions has become, empirically, a tale of four.

The Directive Function. The emergence of a Directive factor con- firms that one function of AM is to use the past in order to solve prob- lems and to direct one’s present and future behavior. The Directive factor included the items written to represent how that function has been discussed in the theoretical literature, but also included addi- tional items. That is, these data suggest that the directive function of AM may be broader than originally conceived. This result fits with the thinking of Pillemer (1998, 2003). He has discussed the guiding power of the specific episode, suggesting that individual personal memory episodes can play strong directive roles in people’s lives in a variety of different ways (e.g., as anchors for personal values, as orig- inating events for chosen life directions, as turning points that redi- rect one’s life path). Thus, given Pillemer’s reasoning, the Directive subscale we identified not only encompassed specific problem solv- ing and making future goals and plans but also drew in items that represent meaning making about one’s life trajectory. That is, the Di- rective subscale also included items that concern updating or reinter- preting previous events in the light of new information and recalling

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