The Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Relationships Amongst a Negative-Individual Self-Concept, Episodic Detail in Past and Future Turning Point Narratives and Adolescents’ Depressive Symptoms
An emerging finding is that recalling turning point narratives in greater episodic detail predicts community adolescents’ depressive symptoms cross-sectionally and across time (Salmon et al., 2021). The authors proposed that this elaborative way of recalling self- defining memories may reflect an excessive self-focus. The current study extended this finding in two ways. First, to elucidate this finding, the relationship between a more negative- individual self-concept and greater episodic detail in past turning point narratives was investigated. Second, to see if the same pattern of findings emerge, greater episodic detail in future turning point narratives was investigated. Using a previously-gathered longitudinal dataset, a community sample of adolescents from Aotearoa New Zealand (N = 320, M = 16.9 years) provided written narratives about a future turning point event which the author coded by episodic and semantic detail. Adolescents’ Twenty Statements Test responses were coded using two schemes developed by the author to identify those who disproportionately described themselves using traits that were both negative and individual. That is, a more negative-individual self-concept, which significantly predicted greater episodic detail in past turning point narratives longitudinally and adolescents’ depressive symptoms cross- sectionally (over and above greater episodic detail). Greater episodic detail in future turning point narratives was not significantly correlated with a more negative-individual self-concept and did not predict adolescents’ depressive symptoms cross-sectionally and longitudinally; suggesting that these relationships are exclusive to the past. These novel findings suggest that a more negative-individual self-concept drives the recall (but not the imagination) of episodic detail in turning point narratives, which sheds light on the finding that greater episodic detail in past (but not future) turning point narratives predicts community adolescents’ depressive symptoms. Finally, the findings suggest that a more negative-individual self-concept, in itself, is the strongest predictor of adolescents’ depressive symptoms.