The Role of Scripts in Personal Consistency and Individual Differences


  • This research was supported in part by a grant from the Amherst College Faculty Research Award Program, funded by the H. Axel Schupf ’57 Fund for Intellectual Life.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Amy Demorest, Department of Psychology, Amherst College, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002-5000. Email:


This article examines the role of scripts in personal consistency and individual differences. Scripts are personally distinctive rules for understanding emotionally significant experiences. In 2 studies, scripts were identified from autobiographical memories of college students (Ns = 47 and 50) using standard categories of events and emotions to derive event-emotion compounds (e.g., Affiliation-Joy). In Study 1, scripts predicted responses to a reaction-time task 1 month later, such that participants responded more quickly to the event from their script when asked to indicate what emotion would be evoked by a series of events. In Study 2, individual differences in 5 common scripts were found to be systematically related to individual differences in traits of the Five-Factor Model. Distinct patterns of correlation revealed the importance of studying events and emotions in compound units, that is, in script form (e.g., Agreeableness was correlated with the script Affiliation-Joy but not with the scripts Fun-Joy or Affiliation-Love).