Cognitive scripts and narrative identity are shaped by structures of power

Kate C. McLean, Monisha Pasupathi, Moin Syed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Constructing a narrative identity involves developing an understanding of oneself as integrated through time and across contexts, a task critical to psychosocial development and functioning. However, research has primarily focused on the individual in isolation or in highly localized contexts. This is problematic because narrative identity is profoundly shaped by structures of power; thus, we cannot understand how individuals understand themselves through time, across contexts, and as a member of a particular community without attention to the structure of society. We propose a structural-psychological framework for the study of autobiographical memory, narrative, and context that examines how structures of power are maintained, and potentially changed, through the narration of autobiographical events, as guided by cognitive scripts, or master narratives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-813
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We appreciate conversations with and feedback from Annie Fast, Ira Hyman, and Annie Riggs. No interests are declared.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • autobiographical reasoning
  • cognitive scripts
  • master narratives
  • narrative identity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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