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Stability and Change Self-Integration for Negative Events: The Role of Listener Responsiveness and Elaboration


concerning this article should be addressed to Trisha L. Weeks, University of Utah, Department of Psychology, 380 S. 1530 E., Rm. 502, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Email:


ABSTRACT Self-integration, critical to identity, is the process of connecting experiences to the self and often occurs as individuals narrate events. Elaboration (Fivush & Nelson, 2006; King & Raspin, 2004; Smyth & Pennebaker, 2008) and listener responsiveness (Pasupathi & Rich, 2005) correlate with better self-integration, but these variables are seldom disentangled. In this set of studies, we examine how individuals construct connections between the self and experience for negative events. In Study 1, 90 friendship pairs discussed a negative event. Stability self-integration, change self-integration, elaboration, and listener responsiveness were assessed independently of the narrative. Elaboration and listener responsiveness contributed independently and positively to change self-integration but were unrelated to stability self-integration. Study 2 manipulated listener responsiveness and added preconversation measures of self-integration. Study 1 results were replicated, except that elaboration failed to achieve significance, and a significant interaction between initial change self-integration and listener responsiveness was found. Implications are discussed.