Collective Memory of Political Events: Social Psychological Perspectives

By James W. Pennebaker; Dario Paez et al. | Go to book overview

one friend of a friend told. The survey also included questions that measured students' emotional reactions, needs to communicate, rates of thinking, and some demographics. Results from the study showed that a story's travel is positively related to the student's pretrip ruminations, need to communicate to another, vividness of disclosure, and degree of emotional upset. A particularly interesting finding was that these factors correlate not only with how many people the student told, but how many people the student's friends' friends told. All in all, the results from this study conducted in naturalistic conditions were remarkably consistent with those of the previously described investigations.


CONCLUSIONS

The VDB case described at the beginning of this chapter can be considered a prototype of the social psychological process described and documented in this chapter. In this case, a person was affected by emotional circumstances and thus urged to socially share the experienced episode. The specific characteristics of the person and the particular intensity of the emotional episode resulted in social sharing conducted on an unusually large scale. Yet, empirical data reviewed in this chapter strongly suggested that any emotional experience would elicit, mutatis mutandis, a similar process. In the VDB case, the narrative of the emotional episode resulted in a strong emotional impact on the national audience. Data described in this chapter demonstrate that any exposure to the narrative of an emotional episode similarly results in a sizable emotional impact on the exposed person. The general rule that "any emotion tends to be socially shared" is playing its role here again. In the VDB case, large-scale social sharing resulted in a particularly large-scale secondary social sharing process. But data issued from questionnaire and naturalistic studies show that a similar process of secondary social sharing develops from any exposure to a social sharing situation, and the scale at which this process will develop and extend is a direct function of the intensity of the involved emotion. We argue that collective interests are served by secondary social sharing as it contributes to the spreading of emotional knowledge within a community. If emotional experiences need to be socially shared and if social sharing of emotion elicits secondary social sharing, extension and updating of the collective database with new individual emotional scenarios would be continuous. This process offers an ideal source for elaborating and refining socially shared emotion prototypes and emotion scripts.


REFERENCES

Archer R. L., & Berg J. H. ( 1978). "Disclosure reciprocity and its limits: A reactance analysis." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 14, 527-540.

Bartlett F. C. ( 1932). Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

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