Date of Award

12-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Rodriguez, Benjamin

Abstract

Narrative frameworks provide a unique method for understanding how important events and relationships become central to individual identity. Informed by these frameworks, the Centrality of Event Scale (CES; Berntsen & Rubin, 2006) serves as a means to quantify the extent to which a specific event has become central to personal identity. Utilizing the CES, Berntsen and Rubin and colleagues demonstrate the strong link between central traumatic events and psychopathology. Despite this work, however, far less literature explicates the factors that lead to growth and adaptive functioning. In order to address this limitation across the literature, a modified version of Berntsen and Rubin's CES was created in order to assess the importance of close positive social relationships to identity. Data were collected from 255 individuals from undergraduate psychology courses at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Specifically, it was hypothesized that the component structure of the Centrality of Event Scale modified for social relationships (CESpr) would be commensurate with Berntsen and Rubin's original scale, and it would predict several measures of adaptive functioning. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that positive relational centrality would predict these measures of adaptive functioning, even after controlling for positive event centrality and social support. Congruent with Berntsen and Rubin's original CES, the CESpr yielded a one-component solution, and correlated with several measures of adaptive functioning. Furthermore, after controlling for positive event centrality and social support, positive relational centrality significantly predicted positive affect, resilience, gratitude, and post-traumatic growth. Results of the current study suggest increased personal meaning and relevance attributed to close positive social relationships is indicative of increased adaptive functioning. These findings are consistent with narrative conceptualizations of the self, which suggest that central events and relationships affect the functioning of the individual. Implications and future directions are discussed.

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