I'll keep you in mind: the intimacy function of autobiographical memory



An experimental study examined whether autobiographical memory serves the function of maintaining intimacy in romantic relationships. Young and older adults (N = 129) recalled either autobiographical relationship events or fictional relationship vignettes. Intimacy (warmth, closeness) was measured before and after remembering. Warmth was enhanced after recalling autobiographical events irrespective of individuals' age and gender; women also experienced gains in closeness. The role of memory characteristics (quality and content) in producing changes in intimacy was also examined. Personal significance of the autobiographical memory was the best predictor of warmth and closeness in the relationship, though how frequently the memory was thought or talked about, and how intimate the memory was also predicted levels of closeness, particularly for women. Results are discussed in terms of how autobiographical memories can be used to foster intimacy in romantic relationships across adulthood. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.