The remembered past can be seen as the reflection of an historical self; and psychologists interested in change over the life cycle have frequently assumed that reminiscence data would provide a source of pertinent constructs for tapping unique aspects of adulthood. The studies reported here were directed to the questions whether or not reminiscence data hold up under systematic analysis, and to what extent such data provide psychological insight into human development. Data were collected from aged respondents in the course of an investigation of adaptation to stress. The paper describes the various indices developed to tap 4 general areas (the importance of reminiscence to aged persons; the restructuring of memories; the selection processes used by the individual in reporting his life-history; the role of particular recollections in the individual’s current psychological economy). While the findings vary from one area to the next, the authors conclude that reminiscence is an important source of data for developing a psychology of the life cycle and that further empirical advances need to be paced by more precise theoretical statements than are presently available.

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