The cognitive-emotional processing of negative life events predicts their subsequent psychological impact. Individual differences in the ability to construct coherent autobiographical memories, which can be considered a way of cognitive-emotional processing, are thought to moderate the association between negative life experiences and their psychological impact. As personal narratives are a central focus of cognitive-behavioral interventions, understanding such associations could prove clinically valuable. To test this hypothesis, a prospective study was conducted in which the impact of an academic failure was investigated in function of students’ memory coherence before the failure occurred. Results showed an indirect effect between memory coherence at baseline and the psychological impact immediately following the academic failure through rumination and meaning making, with students high in memory coherence at baseline reporting less distress compared to students low in memory coherence. However, this effect of memory coherence did not persist to the three-month follow-up. So, memory coherence may function as a buffer against the impact of negative life experiences through rumination and meaning making. Implications for the conceptualization of memory coherence and its potential value for cognitive-behavioral therapy are discussed.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Autobiographical memory, Memory coherence, Negative life experiences, Rumination, Meaning making