Stepping back to move forward: Expressive writing promotes self-distancing.

  title={Stepping back to move forward: Expressive writing promotes self-distancing.},
  author={Jiyoung Park and {\"O}zlem Ayduk and Ethan Kross},
  volume={16 3},
Prior research indicates that expressive writing enhances well-being by leading people to construct meaningful narratives that explain distressing life experiences. But how does expressive writing facilitate meaning-making? We addressed this issue in 2 longitudinal studies by examining whether and how expressive writing promotes self-distancing, a process that facilitates meaning-making. At baseline in both studies, participants reflected on a distressing life experience. In Study 1… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Training for Wisdom: The Distanced-Self-Reflection Diary Method
Assessments made after the intervention revealed that participants reflecting in the third person showed a significant increase in wise reasoning about interpersonal challenges, and this findings suggest an efficient and evidence-based method for fostering wise reasoning.
Self-Distancing: Theory, Research, and Current Directions
Emotional disclosure and emotion change during an expressive-writing task: Do pronouns matter?
Expressive writing is an effective way to facilitate the emotional recovery from a stressor, but little is known about how adopting a first-person versus third-person perspective while writing
Self-distancing promotes positive emotional change after adversity: Evidence from a micro-longitudinal field experiment.
Repeated self-distanced reflections can promote positive change in emotionality in the face of everyday adversity, whereas self-immersed reflections on adversity do not promote positive emotional change.
Although many studies indicate that self-distancing facilitates adaptive self-reflection, it is necessary to examine the variables in the adaptive self-reflection process further to determine whether
Focusing on the future from afar: Self-distancing from future stressors facilitates adaptive coping.
The current studies extend previous research on the benefits of self-distancing to future stressors and highlight a novel mechanism for this relation: imagery vividness.
Using temporal distancing to regulate emotion in adolescence: modulation by reactive aggression
The importance of temporal extent in effective temporal distancing is demonstrated; shedding light on a potential mechanism for poor emotional control associated with reactive aggression is shed.
Comparing the effects of emotional disclosure and peer helping writing on psychological distress among Chinese international students: The moderating role of rumination.
It is demonstrated that the benefits of writing interventions may vary as a function of rumination, and rumination emerged as a significant moderator in both emotional disclosure and peer helping intervention conditions.


The relationship between self-distancing and the duration of negative and positive emotional experiences in daily life.
This work operationalizes adaptive self-reflection in terms of a reduction in the intensity of negative emotion, ignoring other important aspects of emotional experience such as emotion duration, and examines the relationship between self-distancing and the duration of daily negative and positive emotions using a daily diary methodology.
Expressive writing can increase working memory capacity.
A model grounded in cognitive and social psychological theory in which expressive writing reduces intrusive and avoidant thinking about a stressful experience, thus freeing WM resources is discussed.
Analyzing Negative Experiences Without Ruminating: The Role of Self-Distancing in Enabling Adaptive Self-Reflection
Both common intuition and findings from multiple areas of research suggest that when faced with distressing experiences, it is helpful to understand one’s feelings. However, a large body of research
Cognitive, Emotional, and Language Processes in Disclosure
Previous studies have found that writing about upsetting experiences can improve physical health. In an attempt to explain this phenomenon, 72 first-year college students were randomly assigned to
The Role of Story-Making in Disclosure Writing: The Psychometrics of Narrative
Writing about self-relevant emotional topics has a wide range of mental and physical health benefits. An appealing explanation for this phenomenon is that writing facilitates 'story-making' - the
From a distance: implications of spontaneous self-distancing for adaptive self-reflection.
The more participants spontaneously self-distanced while reflecting on negative memories, the less emotional and cardiovascular reactivity they displayed in the short term and this strategy explained unique variance in predicting key outcomes.
The costs and benefits of writing, talking, and thinking about life's triumphs and defeats.
Students who wrote about their happiest moments--especially when analyzing them--experienced reduced well-being and physical health relative to those who replayed these moments, and possible mechanisms underlying these effects were examined.
Spontaneous Self-Distancing and Adaptive Self-Reflection Across Adolescence.
The role that self-distancing plays in fostering adaptive self-reflection in adolescence is highlighted, and the role that development plays in enhancing the benefits of engaging in this process is elucidated.
The Effects of Expressive Writing on Adjustment to HIV
Results suggest that cognitive processing and changes in social interactions may be critical to the benefits of writing.
The effect of self-distancing on adaptive versus maladaptive self-reflection in children.
The role that self-distancing plays in distinguishing adaptive versus maladaptive self-reflection among an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of fifth-grade public schoolchildren is examined to delineate the psychological mechanisms that distinguish adaptive versusmaladaptive forms of self- Reflection over anger experiences in children.