The purpose of this study was to examine gender differences in the emotional construction of life-threatening events (LTEs) that were chosen as self-defining by late adolescents. European American college students (41 women, 25 men) whose average age was 19 were selected from a larger sample (n = 139) because they reported at least 1 LTE among 3 self-defining memories. Memory narratives were elicited with a questionnaire (Singer & Moffitt, 1991–1992) and coded for emotional position. As expected, tough, action-packed positions were more prevalent in men's narratives, and compassionate positions were more prevalent in women's narratives. Unexpectedly, narratives that emphasized one's own vulnerability (fear or sadness) were equally prevalent for men and women, and women's emotional discourse was more conditional upon type of event, i.e., deaths vs. assaults. Findings provide the most explicit evidence to date that some gendered reminiscence practices found in prior studies of children are reflected in late adolescents' self-defining reminiscences. Implications are also discussed for a more situated understanding of gendered reminiscence pratices and for theories of identity development.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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