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The normative and the personal life: Individual differences in life scripts and life story events among USA and Danish undergraduates

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Life scripts are culturally shared expectations about the order and timing of life events in a prototypical life course. American and Danish undergraduates produced life story events and life scripts by listing the seven most important events in their own lives and in the lives of hypothetical people living ordinary lives. They also rated their events on several scales and completed measures of depression, PTSD symptoms, and centrality of a negative event to their lives. The Danish life script replicated earlier work; the American life script showed minor differences from the Danish life script, apparently reflecting genuine differences in shared events as well as less homogeneity in the American sample. Both consisted of mostly positive events that came disproportionately from ages 15 to 30. Valence of life story events correlated with life script valence, depression, PTSD symptoms, and identity. In the Danish undergraduates, measures of life story deviation from the life script correlated with measures of depression and PTSD symptoms.
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Keywords: Autobiographical; Memory; Script

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Duke University, Durham, NC, USA 2: Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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