Transformational Processing of Negative Events: Implications for Well-Being
Haverford College. Department of Psychology
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
Haverford users only
The current study constituted an investigation into narrative processing of negative events, using an expressive writing paradigm (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986), in terms of its effects on an individual's well-being. This study was among the first to experimentally prime distinct narrative processing styles, including transformational processing (Pals, 2006a; 2006b; 2006c). It was hypothesized that transformational processing would lead to the greatest increases in well-being, and that greater presence of personal growth and emotional complexity in written samples would mediate that effect. Participants were instructed to write about a particularly traumatic event from their past in one of three narrative processing styles (vs. a neutral writing task for control subjects) during three writing sessions taking place over three consecutive days. Well-being measures were recorded before writing, and then both one day and one week following the end of the writing sessions. The collected narratives were coded for the presence of exploratory narrative processing, coherent positive resolution, and statements of personal growth. Analyses revealed no effect of transformational processing on well-being, but it did establish a strong causal relationship with growth. The implications for the relationship between transformational processing and narrative growth, which had previously only been shown through correlational data, are discussed, along with suggestions for future research to improve upon the current study.