Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Michelle D. Leichtman

Second Advisor

John D. Mayer

Third Advisor

David B. Pillemer


One relatively unexplored area in memory and personality research concerns the role that personal intelligence—i.e., a person’s ability to understand and reason about their own and others’ personalities—and personality traits may play in the way people think back to and remember their personal past. The current studies extended prior research by directly examining for the first time the relationship between personal intelligence, personality traits, and memory for specific aspects of the personal past. Across two studies, 391 participants (NStudy 1 = 141; NStudy 2 = 250) of different age groups completed a Qualtrics survey comprised of open-ended narrative prompts and close-ended questionnaires. The open-ended prompts allowed for an assessment of participants’ narrative content for two specific (one positive, one negative) memories involving another person, as well as descriptions of personal characteristics and those of other people. The questionnaires were used to measure self-rated functional usage and select qualities (e.g., perceived importance) of the memories, along with personal intelligence and personality traits. The results of both Study 1 and 2 revealed a significant relationship between level of personal intelligence and differences between participants in terms of their recalling and writing about person-centered information across all four narrative prompts, as well as participants’ memory function. The findings also indicated multiple correlations between personality traits and subjective qualities of memory for the personal past. The results are discussed in relation to their theoretical, empirical, and practical implications.