Imagery and Emotion Components of Event Descriptions about Self and Various Others


  • Nicholas A. Kuiper
  • Jennifer Kuindersma


Imagery and emotion have been identified as two of the main component systems of autobiographical events. It is not yet known, however, whether a primary focus on either the self or others may have an impact on these components. To investigate this issue, half of the participants in this study provide a real and made-up event description about themselves, and half provide descriptions about a well-known other. In addition, all participants generated a made-up event description about an unfamiliar other. In accord with predictions generated from a multiple-system model, real events received higher visual detail, imagability, and positive emotion ratings than made-up events. This pattern was also evident for a novel measure of imagery, in which real events were rated as being much more dynamic than made-up events. However, contrary to theoretical positions which postulate a special enhanced role for self-referent information processing, the self-descriptive events were not rated as being easier to imagine and did not have more positive emotions or visual detail, than descriptive events about well-known others. This pattern suggests that efficient cognitive schemata may be involved in the processing of information about both the self and well-known others. In contrast, descriptions of an unfamiliar other received lower imagery and emotionality ratings, suggesting that less well-differentiated cognitive structures are involved in component processing for these individuals.