The human is perhaps best dubbed "Homo Narrans", the story-teller. In the search for meanings, humans constantly tell stories and make accounts to explain events and frame relationships. This book presents a systematic analysis from a psychological standpoint of this universal and fundamental human capacity. Nowhere is account-making more evident than at time of acute personal stress. In divorce and separation, death of a spouse, redundancy or retirement, for example, people often deal best with loss when they have worked through its meaning for themselves and have confided that meaning to empathic others. It is in the process of account making that people look to create meaning out of loss. So fundamental an activity as account-making must, the authors believe, have evolutionary origins. Drawing on the work of Jaynes, they consider the process in relation to the origin of human consciousness and the beginnings of story telling as a human activity.
John H. Harvey is Professor of Psychology at the University of Iowa. He was previously at Vanderbilt and Texas Tech Universities. He is well known for his work on attribution theory, especially as applied to dynamics in close relationships. His books include (with Ickes and Kidd as co-editors) the "New Directions in Attribution Research "series (Erblaum, 1976, 1978, 1981), (with Weary) "Perspectives on Attributional Processes "(W. C. Brown 1981) and (with Kelley et al.) "Close Relationships "(Freeman 1983). Ann L. Weber is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She is author of chapters in "Accounting for Relationships," edited by Burnett, McGhee and Clarke (Methuen, 1987), "The State of Social Psychology," edited by M. Leary (Sage, 1989), and "Intimacy," edited by R. Burnett (Salem House, 1990). Terri L. Orbuch is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. She recently completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the department of psychology at the University of Iowa. She is editor of "Close Relationship Loss: Theoretical Approaches," forthcoming from Springer-Verlag Publishing Co.
Introduction - basic framework; accounts and account-making in various literatures; a theoretical conception of account-making in response to severe stress; person perception through accounts; account-making and grief work; an evolutionary perspective on account-making; accounts in literary form; evaluating our accounts of account-making.