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Going Forward by Drawing From the Past: Personal Strivings, Personally Meaningful Memories, and Personality Traits


regarding this article may be addressed to Angelina R. Sutin, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8686. E-mail:


ABSTRACT The present research explored the idea that what people strive for in their daily lives is meaningfully linked to their autobiographical memories and stable personality characteristics. Study 1 showed that (a) personal strivings (both self-reported and content coded) are related to the emotional and motivational content of self-defining memories, (b) personal strivings are related to self-esteem and narcissism, and (c) the relation between personal strivings and personality is partially mediated by memory content. Study 2 extended these findings to a longitudinal context and showed that personal strivings and memory content reciprocally influence each other over time. Together, the findings suggest that when people consider how to move forward in their lives, they draw on their past experiences to establish goals for the future and that the way this process plays out is shaped by people's stable personality characteristics.