The Psychology of Life Stories

Review of General Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.78). 05/2001; 5(2):100-122. DOI: 10.1037/1089-2680.5.2.100

ABSTRACT Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of interest among theorists and researchers in autobiographical recollections, life stories, and narrative approaches to understanding human behavior and experience. An important development in this context is D. P. McAdams's life story model of identity (1985; see also records
1993-97296-000 and
1996-06098-001), which asserts that people living in modern societies provide their lives with unity and purpose by constructing internalized and evolving narratives of the self. The idea that identity is a life story resonates with a number of important themes in developmental, cognitive, personality, and cultural psychology. This article reviews and integrates recent theory and research on life stories as manifested in investigations of self-understanding, autobiographical memory, personality structure and change, and the complex relations between individual lives and cultural modernity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

    • "''when I lived in Ribe'') (e.g. Brown, Hansen, Lee, Vanderveen, & Conrad, 2012; McAdams, 2001; Thomsen, 2009). In addition, some specific memories are selected to become an important part of life stories. "
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    ABSTRACT: Forty-five participants described and rated two events each week during their first term at university. After 3.5years, we examined whether event characteristics rated in the diary predicted remembering, reliving, and life story importance at the follow-up. In addition, we examined whether ratings of life story importance were consistent across a three year interval. Approximately 60% of events were remembered, but only 20% of these were considered above medium importance to life stories. Higher unusualness, rehearsal, and planning predicted whether an event was remembered 3.5years later. Higher goal-relevance, importance, emotional intensity, and planning predicted life story importance 3.5years later. There was a moderate correlation between life story importance rated three months after the diary and rated at the 3.5year follow-up. The results suggest that autobiographical memory and life stories are governed by different mechanisms and that life story memories are characterized by some degree of stability. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Consciousness and Cognition 07/2015; 36:180-195. DOI:10.1016/j.concog.2015.06.011 · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    • "For a quarter of century McAdams (1993) and his colleagues have worked with students and effective individuals, obtaining detailed account of their lives and key episodes within them. Their interviews often extend over many sessions with one person (McAdams 2001). "
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    ABSTRACT: The Life As A Film (LAAF) procedure is described. This was developed for use with offenders, building on McAdams's (1993) explorations of autobiographical accounts from effective individuals. The advantages of the LAAF procedure for a prison population are discussed, together with the content dictionary used for analysing LAAF responses. The LAAF reveals implicit and explicit aspects of self-concepts and relationships to others, as well as perceived agency and future orientation within a dynamic storyline. Quotations are given to illustrate those psychological processes that underlie criminality, complementing Presser's (2009) work on offender reform and Maruna's (2001) study of narratives of desistance. The values of the LAAF procedure for understanding the maintenance of offending behaviour and the consequent implications for interventions with offenders are discussed.
    The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 03/2015; 54(3). DOI:10.1111/hojo.12124
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    • "Memories from these periods were formed when both age groups presumably lacked a personal perspective on events. Nevertheless, by strong versions of the suggestion (e.g., Bluck & Alea, 2008; Bluck & Habermas, 2001; Fivush, 2011, 2012; Fivush & Zaman, 2014; Habermas & de Silveira, 2008; McAdams, 2001), adults would be expected to have adopted a more personal or subjective perspective on the events and to reflect that perspective in their narrative retellings of the experiences. The fact that adults had not obviously infused their memories of these early events with a more subjective perspective (relative to adolescents), even though they had developed the narrative skills to do so, implies that at least as tested in the present research, adults had no greater ownership of these earlylife events, relative to adolescents. "
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    ABSTRACT: Adults and adolescents are characterised as having different perspectives on their personal or autobiographical memories. Adults are recognised as having vivid recollections of past events and as appreciating the meaning and significance of their autobiographical memories. In development, these qualities are noted as absent as late as adolescence. To evaluate the assumption of developmental differences, we directly compared autobiographical memories of adults and adolescents drawn from each of several periods in the past, using measures of narrative quality (coded independently) and participants' own subjective ratings of their memories. Adults' narratives of events from the previous year and for the "most significant" event of their lives were coded as more thematically coherent relative to those of adolescents'; the groups did not differ on thematic coherence of narratives of early-life events (ages 1-5 and 6-10 years). The ratings that adults and adolescents provided of their autobiographical memories were similar overall; differences were more apparent for early-life events than for more recent events and indicated stronger mnemonic experiences among adolescents than adults. The pattern of findings suggests that whereas adults have more sophisticated narrative tools for describing the significance of events and their relation to the corpus of autobiographical memories, adolescents as well as adults have vivid recollective experiences as well as personal and subjective perspective on the events of their lives and their memories thereof.
    Memory 02/2015; DOI:10.1080/09658211.2014.995673 · 2.09 Impact Factor
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