Applied Cognitive Psychology

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The Individual Depictive Style: Individual Differences in Narrating Personal Experiences


This study aims to identify characteristic variables of individual narrative habits. A total of 59 participants each related three personal experiences of varying emotional valence. Their transcribed statements were coded for a range of linguistic and content‐related variables and aspects of narrative style. In addition, transcripts were analyzed by the computer program Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count. By definition, a variable was considered to be indicative of the individual depictive style when all paired correlations of the three statement conditions as well as the global measure of internal consistency were significant. Ten linguistic variables and eight Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count features met the predefined demands. Exploratory factor analyses were conducted to illuminate underlying cognitive mechanisms. The meaning of the results for deception detection is discussed: vague descriptions and overgeneralizations might be considered as indicators of deception; however, they may just be the expression of a stable individual narrative habit. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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