All posts by huml-hig


Judith Hudson | Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences


Stories of the past and future: Constructing an autobiographical self through time 

Recent research has highlighted the commonalities between remembering the past and thinking about the future. Both involve construction mental representations of events from our past and our imagined future. Both involve the projection of oneself into a past or future experience. I will discuss the similarities and differences involved in remembering the past and imagining the future from a cognitive-developmental and socio-cultural perspective. I am particularly interested in how viewing autobiographical memory from a narrative perspective can inform our thinking about how people envision their future. When we share memories of our past with others, we are telling stories about ourselves. To what degree is future thinking a process of future self-construction and how do we learn to construct stories about our future selves? What kinds of cultural practices promote future thinking? When do children and adolescents envision the future as part of their evolving life story? These are some of the issues I will be discussing in considering the development of past and future thinking across the life span.

Research interest

Below information from: Judith Hudson faculty profile page

I received my PhD in 1984 from the City University of New York and have been on the faculty at Rutgers since 1987. I am active in the cognitive area in the psychology department and I am a member of the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCS). I also supervise the Douglass-Psychology Child Study Center, a laboratory school for preschool children located on the Douglass Campus.

I study memory development in children, the development of children’s understanding of time, the development of planning skill in children and adults, and autobiographic memory and narrative construction in children and adults. I focus primarily on memory for real-world events and the development of real-world planning skills (event planning and time management).

One of my long-standing interests concerns the role of parent-child interaction in the development of children’s memory for the past and their ability to think about and plan for future events. I have explored how conversations about everyday past and future events between mothers and children affect children’s long-term autobiographic memory and their understanding of future time between. I also investigate how parent’s use of temporal language in conversations about past and future events affects children’s understanding of time concepts. In addition, I am interested in how individual differences in children’s and parents’ temperament affect the ways that parents and children interact in conversations and in planning tasks.

In my research on memory development, I have examined the ways in which young children can be reminded of past experiences. Viewing videos of events, looking at photographs, and talking about events are all ways in which children can be reminded of the past, but whether or not a reminder will be effective depends on the age of the child. This line of research has led me to examine the development of children’s understanding of video and photographs as symbolic media between the ages of 18 and 30 months.

Another research interest concerns the effects of emotion on autobiographic memory and narrative construction. I am interested in how mood affects the emotional content of autobiographic memory and how the narrative structure varies as a function of emotional content. One line of research examines effects of odors on adults’ moods and the ways in which exposure to odors affects the emotional content of autobiographic memory reports, dream reports, and story narratives.