Poignancy and Mediated Wisdom of Experience: Narrative Impacts on Willingness to Accept Delayed Rewards

Michael D. Slater, Mary Beth Oliver, Markus Appel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (SciVal)


Research on the impact of eudaimonic narrative has begun to identify a variety of psychologically and socially important outcomes. In the present study, we conceptually and operationally distinguish three distinctive responses to eudaimonic narrative: moral elevation, being emotionally moved, and poignancy. We, following work by Hershfield and colleagues (Ersner-Hershfield, Mikels, Sullivan, & Carstensen, 2008), suggest that poignancy, or a combination of sadness and happiness in response to life or narrative events, represents a recognition and acceptance of life’s transience and mixed joys and sorrows. Evocation of poignancy by eudaimonic narrative, then, should elicit responses associated with age, life experience, and maturity, which we refer to as “mediated wisdom of experience.” We find that brief eudaimonic video clips, compared with similar non-eudaimonic clips, increase acceptance of delayed rewards (i.e., reduced delay discounting, which has been found to be associated with maturity and negatively associated with risky and unsafe behavior in prior research), indirectly via the impact of these clips on poignant responses. In contrast, being emotionally moved showed an indirect path leading to decreased acceptance of delayed rewards, whereas moral elevation had no mediating effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-354
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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