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The Gerontologist 41:89-95 (2001)
© 2001 The Gerontological Society of America

Reminiscence, Personality, and Psychological Functioning in Older Adults

Jeffrey A. Cully, MEda, Donna LaVoie, PhDa and Jeffrey D. Gfeller, PhDa

a Saint Louis University, MO

Correspondence: Jeffrey A. Cully, MEd, Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, 221 North Grand Boulevard, Shannon Hall, Room 201, St. Louis, MO 63103. E-mail: cullyja{at}

Laurence G. Branch, PhD

Purpose: The present study examined the relationships between the frequency and functions of reminiscence, personality styles, and psychological functioning. There is little research on the psychological factors that correlate with reminiscence, especially in relationship to clinical constructs such as depression and anxiety. Research in the area of reminiscence functions may facilitate a better understanding of the factors affecting change in reminiscence therapies. Design and Methods: Seventy-seven healthy older adults completed the following self-report scales: Reminiscence Functions Scale, NEO Five Factor Personality Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory—Second Edition, State–Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Templer-McMordie Death Anxiety Scale. Results:Using canonical correlation techniques, results indicated that individuals with negative psychological functioning frequently reminisce as a way to refresh bitter memories, reduce boredom, and prepare for death. Implications: The present study provides implications for both researchers and clinicians. Contrary to previous studies, results indicate that depressed and anxious older adults commonly use reminiscence and therefore may be appropriate candidates for reminiscence treatments.

Key Words: Anxiety • Depression • Death anxiety

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Copyright © 2001 by The Gerontological Society of America.