Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 252–262 | Cite as

The Role of the Listener on the Emotional Valence of Personal Memories in Emerging Adulthood

  • Chiara Fioretti
  • Debora Pascuzzi
  • Andrea Smorti


Many scholars stressed the role of social interactions in the construction of autobiographical memories, especially in late adolescence and emerging adulthood. This paper aims to assess the impact of the listener attitude on narrator’s emotional valence of past life events concerning the end of a close relationship. 157 emerging adults have been asked to recall a memory and to randomly narrate it to a listener previously trained to be distracted and detached (DL group) versus attentive and empathic (AL group). A control group (CG) had only to reflect internally on the recalled memory. Participants had to allocate one or more emotions to their memory from a 12-item list in a recall task, a narrative/reflection task and a 15-day recall follow-up. The percentages of negative, positive and neutral emotions were assessed and changes among the three emotional allocations were measured. Results showed that participants of the AL group after the narrative task increased the positive emotional engagement of memories and decreased the negative emotions in comparison to DL participants and the CG ones. The authors interpret the results suggesting that narrating autobiographical memories to attentive peers is a way to co-construct their emotional meaning and discuss findings in the light of the knowledge on the lifespan period of emerging adulthood.


Autobiographical memory Narrative Relation Emerging adulthood 



A special thanksgiving to Roberta Catilino who participated in the implementation of the present study. The authors are furthermore grateful to all the students who participated in the present study sharing their precious stories.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chiara Fioretti
    • 1
  • Debora Pascuzzi
    • 1
  • Andrea Smorti
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Educational Sciences and PsychologyUniversity of FlorenceFirenzeItaly

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