and traditions, social memories should be profoundly altered. On the other hand, the present findings dealing with the time course of collective memories hint that a resurgence of positive collective memories will begin to surface no earlier than two decades from now.
Finally, collective memories are powerful meaning-making tools both for the community and the individuals in the community. Individuals partly define themselves by their own traits, but also by those groups to which they belong, as well as by their historical circumstances. Collective memories provide a backdrop or a context for much of people's identity (cf. Baumeister, 1986). History defines us just as we define history. As our identities and cultures evolve over time, we tacitly reconstruct our histories. By the same token, these new collectively defined historical memories help to provide identities for succeeding generations.
Part of the research was supported by grant SBR94-11674 from the National Science Foundation and MH52391 from the National Institutes of Health to James W. Pennebaker.
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