Transformative Processing of Negative Events Through Expressive Writing

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Title: Transformative Processing of Negative Events Through Expressive Writing
Author: Plowden, Marissa K.
Advisor: Compton, Rebecca; Lilgendahl, Jennifer L.
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Psychology
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: The aim of this study was to utilized Pennebaker and Beall's (1986) previously developed expressive writing paradigm and Pals'(2006b) concept of positive selftransformation to try to induce heightened psychological well-being through writing about negative events. Specifically, we developed three separate writing prompts that targeted the two separate components of processing (exploratory processing and coherent positive resolution) as well as a hybrid prompt that utilized elements of both in an effort to induce transformational processing, with the idea that this combination prompt would induce "optimal", or eudaimonic well-being. Overall, our results did not support our hypotheses; however, our combination prompt did produce narratives that scored significantly higher in growth than either the "explore" or the "resolve" prompt. Additionally, narratives in the Explore and Combination conditions showed a higher amount of insight cognition words than the Resolve condition. While these findings are not conclusive with regard to the influence of different writing styles on psychological well-being, they are conclusive in showing that growth is a function of both emotional exploration and positive closure and that this type of writing prompt has the potential to induce a significant positive change in an individual's self-identity.
Subject: Narration (Rhetoric) -- Psychological aspects
Subject: Identity (Psychology)
Subject: Writing -- Psychological aspects
Subject: Life change events -- Psychological aspects
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Plowden, Marissa K.. "Transformative Processing of Negative Events Through Expressive Writing". 2012. Available electronically from

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