Informations and abstract
Keywords: Emotional narratives, narrative structure, well-being, emotional experience, emotional retelling.
Following an emotional event, people need to retell it in order to process the emotional experience and find a reasonable and coherent meaning. The literature on emotional narratives argues that the construction of a significant and coherent narrative allows people to reduce the discrepancy between the new emotional information and the basic beliefs threatened by emotional experience, producing psycho-physical well being. The present study aims to investigate the role of emotional valence of the event on emotional narrative structure, and to explore the temporal evolution of emotional narratives. The study adopts a 3x7 mixed design with Emotional Valence of the event (Positive vs. Negative vs. Neutral) as between subjects factor and Time (7 days) as within subjects factor. The dependent variables are the complexity and coherence indices of the narrative structure. 62 degree students are asked to retell a positive vs. negative vs. neutral event for 7 days. Results show that, immediately after the event, neutral narratives are less complex and more coherent than emotional narratives, and that negative narratives are the most complex and incoherent. Retelling after retelling in the following days, compare to neutral narratives, emotional narratives become more understandable and coherent. This effect is most evident in negative narratives. The present study shows that the benefits of emotional retelling appears evident in the narrative structure itself, which evolves from a state of incoherence and complexity towards greater comprehensibility and coherence.