Autobiographical recall of mastery experiences is a mechanism of self-affirming under social identity threat



In the present study we examined whether recall of mastery events help affirm identity in a context of social identity thereat. We specifically compared the recollection of routine memories with memories of having mastered a challenge as an example of the directive function of autobiographical memories. We conducted two experiments, varying national identity threat among U.S. Americans recruited through MTurk. In Study 1, participants spontaneously recalled autobiographical memories after being exposed to varying levels of threat. When threat was identity-relevant (i.e., related to important aspects of one’s identity), those who spontaneously recalled mastery autobiographical memories had higher collective self-esteem than those who did not. In Study 2, we instructed participants to recall either mastery autobiographical memories or routine memories. When threat was identity-relevant, collective self-esteem was again higher for mastery recall compared to routine recall, moderated by national identification and self-esteem. We also found a general, self-affirmative effect of autobiographical memories, regardless of threat relevance or recall content. Findings provide a first empirical demonstration that autobiographical recall can enhance self-affirmation in identity threat situations.

Two documents are uploaded under materials and can be used to replicate the above two studies. The document labeled "Autobiographical recall and self-affirmation - Materials" is a word document where the study materials can be found edited with details and additional information for ease of use. The document titled "Autobiographical recall and self-affirmation - Qualtrics" is a word file of the qualtrics survey as administered to participants.
Date made available2019
Date of data production2019

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