Interpersonal Focus in the Emotional Autobiographical Memories of Older and Younger Adults

Angelina J. Polsinelli, Kelly E. Rentscher, Elizabeth L. Glisky, Suzanne A. Moseley, Matthias R. Mehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The present study examined the interpersonal focus within autobiographical memories (AMs) of older and younger adults from the perspective of socioemotional selectivity theory (SST). Specifically, we measured interpersonal focus directly through rater codings (relational vs. individual focus) and social word use, and indirectly through personal pronoun use. Forty-five older (Mage = 76.76) and 25 younger (Mage = 18.64) adults recalled positive and negative AMs, which were then coded and processed through computerized text analysis software to obtain word-use counts. Consistent with SST, the positive AMs of older adults were more interpersonally focused compared to negative AMs and younger adults. The results suggest that the positive life experiences of older adults tend to be associated with a high degree of social importance and focus on others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalGeroPsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • LIWC
  • autobiographical memory
  • interpersonal
  • socioemotional selectivity theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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