The identity function of autobiographical memory: time is on our side

Memory. 2003 Mar;11(2):137-49. doi: 10.1080/741938210.


Autobiographical memory plays an important role in the construction of personal identity. We review evidence of the bi-directional link between memory and identity. Individuals' current self-views, beliefs, and goals influence their recollections and appraisals of former selves. In turn, people's current self-views are influenced by what they remember about their personal past, as well as how they recall earlier selves and episodes. People's reconstructed evaluations of memories, their perceived distance from past experiences, and the point of view of their recollections have implications for how the past affects the present. We focus on how people's constructions of themselves through time serve the function of creating a coherent--and largely favourable--view of their present selves and circumstances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Education
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personality Development*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept
  • Time Factors