Home    Number 6, 2023

Evocation of the Self: Self-Defining Mental Photographs

[Evokatsiia Ya: samoopredeliaiushchie mental’nye fotografii]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523060052


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 14.08.2023

Accepted: 07.09.2023

About author(s)

Veronika Nourkova | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3117-3081 | Nourkova@mail.ru | Lomonosov Moscow State University (GSP-1, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russia)

Olga Sulim | https://orcid.org/0009-0005-8011-6330 | chinchaila@mail.ru | Lomonosov Moscow State University (GSP-1, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russia)


autobiographical memory, evocative objects, arbitrariness, self-regulation, psychological tools, self-defining mental photographs, self-defining memories, personality


The acquisition of mental tools is a uniquely human mode of resisting situational pressure and achieving psychological self-determination. The fact that material photographs effectively trigger autobiographical memories has led to the hypothesis that they have functional counterparts in the form of memories of the most personally significant photographs. One hundred and eighty-five participants volunteered to recall, describe, and rate on several scales the memories of photographs that best express their personality. The “self-defining mental photographs” obtained from the participants were found to be subjectively attractive, highly functional, and expressive of various personality traits. The exploratory factor analysis suggested a three-factor solution interpreted as qualitatively specific types of mental photographs. Mental photographs scoring high on Factor 1 (Focus on the event) may serve as retrieval tool for extracting personal sense from a concrete episode of the past. High scores on Factor 2 (Detailed image of the narrator) probably refer to the internal dialogue between past and present self. High scores on Factor 3 (Holistic Self) were attributed to the integrated experience of personality-destiny unity coinciding with the awareness of one’s history of existence.

Funding Information

Russian Science Foundation, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100006769 [grant no. 22-28-00368]


Nourkova, V.V., and O.S. Sulim. 2023. Evokatsiia Ya: samoopredeliaiushchie mental’nye fotografii [Evocation of the Self: Self-Defining Mental Photographs]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 6: 61–76. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523060052 EDN: MNYMKP

Full text is distributed by eLIBRARY.ru