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Narrative identity is a person's internalized and evolving life story, integrating the reconstructed past and imagined future to provide life with some degree of unity and purpose. In recent studies on narrative identity, researchers have paid a great deal of attention to (a) psychological adaptation and (b) development. Research into the relation between life stories and adaptation shows that narrators who find redemptive meanings in suffering and adversity, and who construct life stories that feature themes of personal agency and exploration, tend to enjoy higher levels of mental health, well-being, and maturity. Researchers have tracked the development of narrative identity from its origins in conversations between parents and their young children to the articulation of sophisticated meaning-making strategies in the personal stories told in adolescence and the emerging adulthood years. Future researchers need to (a) disentangle causal relations between features of life stories and positive psychological adaptation and (b) explore further the role of broad cultural contexts in the development of narrative identity.
Current Directions in Psychological
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DOI: 10.1177/0963721413475622
2013 22: 233Current Directions in Psychological Science
Dan P. McAdams and Kate C. McLean
Narrative Identity
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DOI: 10.1177/0963721413475622
Human beings are natural storytellers. In forms that range
from traditional folk tales to reality TV, stories are told or
performed in every known human culture. People con-
struct and share stories about themselves, too, detailing
particular episodes and periods in their lives and what
those experiences mean to them. Out of the episodic
particulars of autobiographical memory, a person may
construct and internalize an evolving and integrative
story for life, or what psychologists today call a narrative
identity (Singer, 2004). Narrative identity reconstructs the
autobiographical past and imagines the future in such a
way as to provide a person’s life with some degree of
unity, purpose, and meaning. Thus, a person’s life story
synthesizes episodic memories with envisioned goals,
creating a coherent account of identity in time. Through
narrative identity, people convey to themselves and to
others who they are now, how they came to be, and
where they think their lives may be going in the future.
The idea that people create identity through construct-
ing stories about their lives has emerged, over the past 2
decades, as a broadly integrative conception in both the
humanities and the social sciences (McAdams, 2001).
Within psychological science, researchers use empirical
studies to examine both the internal dynamics of private
life narration and the external factors that shape the pub-
lic expression of stories about the self. In many studies,
investigators ask participants to tell extended stories
about scenes or periods in their own lives, and they then
code the narrative accounts for dimensions and features,
such as those presented in Table 1. As just one example,
researchers have shown that middle-age adults who
score high on self-report measures of generativity, indi-
cating a strong commitment to improving society and
promoting the well-being of future generations, tend to
construct life stories that showcase many instances
of redemption sequences (McAdams, 2013; McAdams,
Reynolds, Lewis, Patten, & Bowman, 2001). As indicated
in Table 1, a redemption sequence marks a transition in
a life narrative account from an emotionally negative
scene to a positive outcome or attribution about the self.
By conceptualizing their own lives as tales of redemp-
tion, middle-age adults may sustain the hope or confi-
dence that is needed to weather short-term setbacks
475622CDPXXX10.1177/0963721413475622McAdams, McLeanNarrative Identity
Corresponding Author:
Dan P. McAdams, School of Education and Social Policy,
Northwestern University, 2120 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208
Narrative Identity
Dan P. McAdams1 and Kate C. McLean2
1Department of Psychology and School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern
University, and 2Department of Psychology, Western Washington University
Narrative identity is a person’s internalized and evolving life story, integrating the reconstructed past and imagined
future to provide life with some degree of unity and purpose. In recent studies on narrative identity, researchers
have paid a great deal of attention to (a) psychological adaptation and (b) development. Research into the relation
between life stories and adaptation shows that narrators who find redemptive meanings in suffering and adversity,
and who construct life stories that feature themes of personal agency and exploration, tend to enjoy higher levels
of mental health, well-being, and maturity. Researchers have tracked the development of narrative identity from its
origins in conversations between parents and their young children to the articulation of sophisticated meaning-making
strategies in the personal stories told in adolescence and the emerging adulthood years. Future researchers need to
(a) disentangle causal relations between features of life stories and positive psychological adaptation and (b) explore
further the role of broad cultural contexts in the development of narrative identity.
narrative identity, life stories, self, development, culture
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234 McAdams, McLean
while reinforcing long-term commitments to improving
the lives of others (see also Walker & Frimer, 2007).
Adaptation: How People Narrate
The theme of redemption points to the broader adapta-
tional issue of how human beings make narrative sense
of suffering in their lives. In general, research on narra-
tive identity suggests that adults who emerge strength-
ened or enhanced from negative life experiences often
engage in a two-step process (Pals, 2006). In the first
step, the person explores the negative experience in
depth, thinking long and hard about what the experience
felt like, how it came to be, what it may lead to, and what
role the negative event may play in the person’s overall
life story. In the second step, the person articulates and
commits the self to a positive resolution of the event.
Research suggests that the first step is associated with
personal growth—the second, with happiness.
With respect to the first step, studies by King and col-
leagues have examined how people narrate difficult life
challenges, such as learning that one’s child is disabled or
coming to terms with divorce (e.g., King & Hicks, 2007).
Those narrators who were able to articulate detailed and
thoughtful accounts of loss and struggle in their lives
tended to score higher on independent indices of psy-
chological maturity, and they showed increases in
Table 1. Examples of Life-Story Constructs Used in Research on Narrative Identity
Coding construct Definition Example (of high score)
Agency The degree to which protagonists are able to affect
change in their own lives or influence others in
their environment, often through demonstrations
of self-mastery, empowerment, achievement,
or status. Highly agentic stories privilege
accomplishment and the ability to control one’s
“I challenge myself to the limit academically,
physically, and on my job. Since that time [of
my divorce], I have accomplished virtually
any goal I set for myself. ”
Communion The degree to which protagonists demonstrate or
experience interpersonal connection through
love, friendship, dialogue, or connection to a
broad collective. The story emphasizes intimacy,
caring, and belongingness.
“I was warm, surrounded by friends
and positive regard that night. I felt
unconditionally loved.”
Redemption Scenes in which a demonstrably “bad” or
emotionally negative event or circumstance leads
to a demonstrably “good” or emotionally positive
outcome. The initial negative state is “redeemed”
or salvaged by the good that follows it.
The narrator describes the death of her father
as reinvigorating closer emotional ties to her
other family members.
Contamination Scenes in which a good or positive event turns
dramatically bad or negative, such that the
negative affect overwhelms, destroys, or erases
the effects of the preceding positivity.
The narrator is excited for a promotion at
work but learns it came at the expense of his
friend being fired.
Meaning making The degree to which the protagonist learns
something or gleans a message from an event.
Coding ranges from no meaning (low score) to
learning a concrete lesson (moderate score) to
gaining a deep insight about life (high score).
“It really made me go through and relook at
my memories and see how there’s so many
things behind a situation that you never see.
Things are not always as they seem.”
Exploratory narrative
The extent of self-exploration as expressed in the
story. High scores suggest deep exploration or
the development of a richly elaborated self-
“I knew I reached an emotional bottom
that year . . . but I began making a stable
life again, as a more stable independent
person . . . it was a period full of pain,
experimentation, and growth, but in
retrospect it was necessary for me to become
anything like the woman I am today.”
Coherent positive
The extent to which the tensions in the story
are resolved to produce closure and a positive
“After many years, I finally came to forgive my
brother for what he did. I now accept his
faults, and, as a result, I think he and I have
grown closer.”
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Narrative Identity 235
maturity over the following 2 years. Bauer and colleagues
have examined negative accounts of life-story low points
as well as stories about difficult life transitions. People
who scored higher on independent measures of psycho-
logical maturity tended to construct storied accounts that
emphasized learning, growth, and positive personal
transformation (e.g., Bauer, McAdams, & Sakaeda, 2005).
McLean and Pratt (2006) found that young adults who
engaged in more elaborated processing of turning points
in their lives tended to score higher on an overall index
of identity maturity (see also Syed & Azmitia, 2010).
When it comes to the narration of suffering, then, self-
exploration often produces lessons learned and insights
gained, enriching a person’s life in the long run.
Nonetheless, narrators should not go on so long and so
obsessively as to slide into rumination, for good stories
need to have satisfactory endings. Accordingly, many
studies demonstrate that positive resolution of negative
events is associated with higher levels of happiness and
well-being (e.g., King & Hicks, 2007; Lilgendahl &
McAdams, 2011). In a longitudinal demonstration,
Tavernier and Willoughby (2012) reported that high-
school seniors who found positive meanings in their nar-
rations of difficult high-school turning points showed
higher levels of psychological well-being than those stu-
dents who failed to construct narratives about turning
points with positive meanings, even when controlling for
well-being scores obtained 3 years earlier, when the stu-
dents were freshmen.
In American society today, a major arena for the narra-
tion of suffering is psychotherapy. Therapists work with
clients to re-story their lives, often aiming to find more
positive and growth-affirming ways to narrate and under-
stand emotionally negative events. In a series of studies,
Adler and colleagues asked former psychotherapy
patients to tell the story of their (remembered) therapy
(e.g., Adler, Skalina, & McAdams, 2008). Those former
patients who currently enjoyed better psychological
health tended to narrate heroic stories in which they
bravely battled their symptoms and emerged victorious
in the end. In these accounts, the theme of personal
agency (see Table 1) trumped all other explanations in
accounting for therapeutic efficacy. Moreover, agency
emerged as the key narrative theme in a prospective
study of psychotherapy patients who provided brief nar-
rative accounts about the course of their treatment before
each of at least 12 therapy sessions (Adler, 2012). As
coded in the succession of narrative accounts, increases
in personal agency preceded and predicted improvement
in therapy. As patients told stories that increasingly
emphasized their ability to control their world and make
self-determined decisions, they showed corresponding
decreases in symptoms and increases in mental health.
Development: The Formation of
Narrative Identity
Given the importance of narrative identity to well-being,
it is important to understand how individuals develop the
abilities to engage in the complex process of narrating
stories about the self. Building on Erikson’s (1963) theory
of psychosocial development, McAdams (1985) originally
argued that narrative identity emerges in the late-adoles-
cent and early-adult years, partly as a function of societal
expectations regarding identity and the maturation of for-
mal operational thinking. Constructing and internalizing
a life story—McAdams argued—provides an answer to
Erikson’s key identity questions: Who am I? How did I
come to be? Where is my life going? Accordingly,
Habermas and Bluck (2000) proposed that it is not until
adolescence that people can construct stories about their
lives that exhibit causal coherence (a convincing account
of how early events cause later events) and thematic
coherence (the derivation of organizing themes or trends
in a full life). Consistent with their claim, a growing body
of research suggests that as people move from late child-
hood through adolescence, their life-narrative accounts
show increasing evidence of causal coherence, thematic
coherence, and other markers of a well-formed narrative
identity (Habermas & de Silveira, 2008).
Working within a Vygotskian tradition, McLean,
Pasupathi, and Pals (2007) have developed a sociocul-
tural model to guide examinations into the development
of narrative identity. The model suggests that a narrative
identity builds slowly over time as people tell stories
about their experiences to and with others. Over devel-
opmental time, selves create stories, which in turn create
selves (McLean et al., 2007). Through repeated interac-
tions with others, stories about personal experiences are
processed, edited, reinterpreted, retold, and subjected to
a range of social and discursive influences, as the story-
teller gradually develops a broader and more integrative
narrative identity.
To develop a narrative identity, a person must first
learn how to share stories in accord with particular cul-
tural parameters and within particular groups—in fami-
lies, with peers, and in other formal and informal social
contexts. Employing cross-sectional, longitudinal, and
experimental designs, developmental psychologists have
repeatedly shown that conversations with parents about
personal events are critical to the development of narra-
tive skills in children (Fivush, Haden, & Reese, 2006). This
research demonstrates that parents who use an elabo-
rated conversational style—focusing on causes and expla-
nations in personal stories and underscoring emotional
evaluations of past events—tend to stimulate the develop-
ment of strong self-storytelling skills in their children.
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236 McAdams, McLean
Greater parental elaboration is associated with a variety of
positive cognitive and socioemotional outcomes in chil-
dren, including greater levels of elaboration in children’s
personal storytelling.
Early parent-child conversations provide the founda-
tions for children to learn how to make meaning out of
personal events (Reese, Jack, & White, 2010), and mean-
ing making (see Table 1) is a process central to the devel-
opment of narrative identity. Through meaning making,
people go beyond the plots and event details of their
personal stories to articulate what they believe their sto-
ries say about who they are. Storytellers may suggest that
the events they describe illustrate or explain a particular
personality trait, tendency, goal, skill, problem, complex,
or pattern in their own lives. In making meaning, the
storyteller draws a semantic conclusion about the self
from the episodic information that the story conveys.
Developmental research shows that meaning-making
skills show age-related increases across the adolescent
years (McLean & Breen, 2009; McLean, Breen, & Fournier,
2010), as do other kinds of interpretive narration
(Pasupathi & Wainryb, 2010), particularly in middle ado-
lescence when individuals become better able to manage
paradox and contradiction in personal stories. The
research also shows that meaning making can be hard
work, and it may sometimes exert a cost. Especially in
early adolescence, boys who engage in greater levels of
meaning making in relating autobiographical stories tend
to show lower levels of psychological well-being com-
pared with boys who engage in less meaning making
(Chen, McAnally, Wang, & Reese, 2012; McLean et al.,
2010). It may be the case that some boys come to adoles-
cence less prepared for the work of narrative identity,
perhaps because they have had less practice in process-
ing emotions and reflecting on the meanings of personal
experiences. By late adolescence, however, boys seem to
catch up with the girls, such that their meaning making
efforts in late adolescence may become associated with
higher levels of well-being and greater levels of self-
understanding (Chen et al., 2012; McLean et al., 2010).
What is happening over the course of adolescence to
produce age-related changes in meaning making?
Cognitive development likely plays a crucial role in the
ability to represent the self in more abstract ways and to
deal with the contradictions and paradoxes of life experi-
ences. In addition, social pressures to define the self
become more prominent, encouraging adolescents to
“figure out” who they are. As adolescents broaden their
social networks, they may begin to share themselves with
others more often and in a wider range of conversational
contexts. Such sharing typically requires having interest-
ing stories to tell about the self and being able to tell
them in such a way as to capture the attention of poten-
tial listeners.
Research on adolescents and emerging adults has now
shown that several aspects of conversational contexts
matter for the degree to which conversations become
important for meaning-making processes. First, the reason
for sharing a memory matters. When trying to entertain a
listener, meaning does not appear as relevant as when
one is trying to explain oneself to another (McLean, 2005).
Therefore, stories told exclusively for the entertainment of
others typically contain few examples of meaning making.
Second, the listener matters. In experimental designs in
which listener behavior is manipulated, Pasupathi and
colleagues have shown that attentive and responsive lis-
teners cause tellers to narrate more personally elaborated
stories compared with distracted listeners (e.g., Pasupathi
& Hoyt, 2010). In this sense, attentive listening helps to
promote the development of narrative identity. Third,
relationships matter. In a short-term longitudinal study,
McLean and Pasupathi (2011) found that the more roman-
tic partners agreed on the meaning of a shared memory,
the more likely the teller was to retain that meaning over
time. Therefore, when important people in a person’s life
agree with his or her interpretation of a personal story, he
or she is likely to hold on to that story and to incorporate
it into his or her more general understanding of who he
or she is and how he or she came to be.
In this article, we have focused on two central themes in
the wide-ranging empirical literature on narrative iden-
tity: adaptation and development. A strong line of
research shows that when narrators derive redemptive
meanings from suffering and adversity in their lives, they
tend to enjoy correspondingly higher levels of psycho-
logical well-being, generativity, and other indices of suc-
cessful adaptation to life. Important exceptions to this
rule, however, have been identified in studies of young
adolescent boys, indicating that future researchers need
to more carefully track the moderating effects of demo-
graphics, developmental stage, and a range of other fac-
tors, as they may impact the relation between the quality
of life stories on the one hand and psychosocial adapta-
tion on the other (Greenhoot & McLean, 2013). In addi-
tion, researchers need to conduct more longitudinal
investigations and controlled experiments to disentangle
causal relations. Does the construction of redemptive
narratives increase well-being, or does enhanced well-
being lead naturally to the construction of redemptive life
stories? Results from Adler (2012) and Tavernier and
Willoughby (2012) are consistent with the former possi-
bility, but considerably more research—employing a
broader range of methodologies—is needed.
Studies tracing the development of narrative identity
from childhood through the emerging adulthood years
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Narrative Identity 237
underscore the power of conversation and social con-
texts for learning narrative skills, shaping identity expec-
tations, and formulating a meaningful story for one’s life.
Reinforcing the significance of social context, future
research on the development of narrative identity would
benefit from a broader consideration of the role of cul-
ture. Hammack (2008) and McAdams (2013) have
described how cultural narratives about national history,
ethnicity, religion, and politics shape the personal stories
people live by, and how personal stories can sustain or
transform culture. In a study of Israeli and Palestinian
youths, for example, Hammack found that both groups
imported into their personal narrative identities dramatic
master narratives about their respective cultures, result-
ing in a preponderance of redemptive stories for Israeli
youths and stories of contamination and tragedy for the
Palestinian youths. The striking mismatch between
respective narrative identities of Israeli and Palestinian
youths may contribute to difficulties, Hammack argued,
in finding cultural common ground and establishing
peace. McAdams et al. (2008) documented sharply differ-
ent styles of redemptive discourse in the life stories of
American political conservatives and liberals, reflecting
competing national ideals that prevail between conserva-
tive and liberal subcultures in the United States.
It would seem that different cultures offer different
menus of images, themes, and plots for the construction
of narrative identity, and individuals within these cultures
appropriate, sustain, and modify these narrative forms as
they tell their own stories. Beginning even in childhood,
narrators draw selectively from the menu as they gradu-
ally develop story forms that capture well their personal
experience. Therefore, because narrative identity is
exquisitely contextualized in culture, future researchers
need to examine the development of life stories in many
different societies, nations, and cultural groups.
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Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with
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While 'identity' is a key concept in psychology and the social sciences, researchers have used and understood this concept in diverse and often contradictory ways. The Cambridge Handbook of Identity presents the lively, multidisciplinary field of identity research as working around three central themes: (i) difference and sameness between people; (ii) people's agency in the world; and (iii) how identities can change or remain stable over time. The chapters in this collection explore approaches behind these themes, followed by a close look at their methodological implications, while examples from a number of applied domains demonstrate how identity research follows concrete analytical procedures. Featuring an international team of contributors who enrich psychological research with historical, cultural, and political perspectives, the handbook also explores contemporary issues of identity politics, diversity, intersectionality, and inclusion. It is an essential resource for all scholars and students working on identity theory and research.
Using narrative inquiry, we explored 10 participants’ tattoo narratives. The purpose of this qualitative study was to see how participants’ tattoo narratives reflect their lifestyle as conceptualized in Adlerian theory. Results indicate that participants used tattoo narratives to reveal information related to the assumed premises of the lifestyle syllogism. Three themes emerged from a thematic narrative analysis of the interviews: (a) view of self, (b) view of others, and (c) view of the world. Key concepts that emerged from a discussion of the themes were (a) communicative power of tattoos and (b) spirituality. Limitations, recommendations for future qualitative and quantitative research, and implications for practice were discussed.
This study asks how small tourism providers use stories to make sense of their world in terms of sustainability. It elaborates on sense-making and story concepts and their relevance to sustainability; adopts an enactive research approach and multiple methods (participation, journaling, interviews, document analysis, content analysis); and explores five providers' stories about themselves, the destination, and their story for tourists. The main findings reveals that the providers make sense of their world by seeing themselves as characters in a multi-themed story in which they are fallible change agents, understanding and practising sustainability differently, whereas the government is responsible for implementing radical change. This study's novelty lies in the narrative inquiry that allows a comprehensive, nuanced understanding of tourism providers' worldviews.
Purpose Mental ill health is on the rise amongst undergraduate students and has been investigated using both positivist/quantitative and exploratory/qualitative research methods. However, the lived experiences of mature students who have mental ill health have not been directly investigated. A limited research literature suggests that challenges particular to mature undergraduate students can cause mental ill health or exacerbate existing needs. Further research exploring the lived experiences of mature undergraduate students with mental ill health is thus warranted. Design/methodology/approach A qualitative approach was adopted to explore lived experiences of mental ill health for mature students in higher education. The interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) explores the experience of higher education mature students who self-identify as having mental ill health. Five participants were interviewed about their personal stories and perceptions. Findings The study found that participants interpreted the experience of mental ill health as very difficult with no redeeming features reported. A lack of control over mental ill health experiences was contrasted with attempts to control mental ill health, whether successful or not, in order to progress with their learning. Participants conceptualised being mature undergraduate students as a last chance succeed in life, education or a career. This increased stress that interacted with their mental ill health symptoms. Research limitations/implications IPA calls for a small, homogenised participant sample. This limits generalisation of the research findings. Recruitment criteria welcomed participants who self-identified as experiencing mental ill health, leading to potential bias in reported lived experiences. Practical implications The research findings highlight the value of considering the lived experience of students experiencing mental ill health whilst studying. Whilst general approaches to support can be successful, this research demonstrates how higher educational professionals must orient towards an ideographic perspective when considering how to provide individualised, inclusive support for students experiencing mental ill health. A discussion on how this can be actualised is provided. Social implications The research provides impetus to the perspective that students have unique lived experiences of mental ill health, and that this is particularly so for mature undergraduate students. A key social implication of this is that, whilst positive based, one-size fits most, interventions for students experiencing mental ill health are useful, higher education educators must also be cognizant of unique, dynamic experiences each student will have. As such, there is a need to move towards a relational, dialogic approach when considering and designing tailored support. Originality/value Mature undergraduate students who experience mental ill health are at risk of not reaching their potential. Yet despite this, exploration of mature undergraduate student's experiences of mental ill health is nascent in the academic literature. Research considering their unique perspectives as an avenue to develop joint compassionate understandings and interactions between students and educators are additionally scant. The current study begins to address this dearth of exploration and commentary. It provides an idiosyncratic, novel inquiry into this important issue.
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We explore the different types of racial violence encountered by Asian American and Asian Canadians (whom we refer to as Asians) in the workplace during COVID‐19 and how they respond. Using a grounded theory approach, we found that during the COVID‐19 pandemic, Asians experienced different types of workplace racial violence, most of which manifested as microaggressions, including a revival of the yellow peril trope, physical manifestations of bordering behavior, and identity denial. In some cases, manifestations of physical violence also emerged. The data revealed that Asians demonstrated various types of agentic responses to challenge and counter unwanted and incorrect identities conveyed by the racial microaggressions. We enhance theory by shedding light on the experiences of Asians whose voice has largely been ignored in the organizational literature. Our study draws together and contributes to the theory on racial violence and racialized identity by highlighting the different types of racial violence faced by Asians and exploring the challenges they encounter in the face of racial microaggressions. Finally, we discuss practical implications of our study results and offer insight into how organizations can help support their Asian employees.
This study employed a qualitative thematic analysis to gain a deeper insight into post-incarcerated individuals’ narratives about the desistance process posted within an online, naturalistic context. We analyzed 87 online narratives from’s (Prison Talk Online; PTO) Success Stories forum, a discussion space focused on the transition to and life after post-incarceration. Four themes were identified from the narratives as posters discussed their continued desistance: 1) being motivated and resilient, 2) changing their self-perceptions, 3) engaging with/in supportive relationships, and 4) creating space for/from community. We found that online desistance narratives are similar to narratives disclosed in face-to-face contexts. Additionally, online spaces and the affordances they offer are important places for post-incarcerated individuals; these spaces offer the opportunity for members of the community to construct and post narratives where post-incarcerated individuals reflect on their previous actions and perform pro-social identities that help the larger carceral community.
The purpose of the present study is to offer insights into how Spanish undergraduates, who were midway through an English-medium programme at a university in Catalonia, articulate their past decision to study an academic subject in English. Economics students (34 in total) completed an oral elicitation task and the monologues yielded were analysed using thematic analysis. Three dominant themes emerged: (1) The right fit for me; (2) To practise my English; and (3) English comes with benefits. Each of these themes is presented as a composite description of the students' ideas about their past choice from the temporal position of the here-and-now, and explored through distinct but complementary social psychological and sociological lenses. The present study finds threads running through the stu-dents' narratives of a near effortlessness to choose to learn in this way, as well as an understanding of the capital value of English. For some, their sole stated motive was to develop and preserve this linguistic asset.
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This study examines the content of family identity among people in Sweden, a country often portrayed as relatively free from traditional family norms. More specifically, we investigated the types of family-related narratives that individuals shared, narratives of deviation from the master narrative of what was expected and accepted in Swedish society. In addition, the identity centrality of the themes was investigated. The data covered 462 participants, 170 of whom – 139 women, 30 men, and one non-binary (Mage = 20.11, SD = 4.85) – had family-related narratives. We identified six themes of deviating narratives, of which the family-related narratives had significantly higher identity centrality than did the non-family-related narratives. Not only do the present findings emphasize the importance of family for people’s identities, but they also illustrate the complex and multilayered aspects of family identity. The master narrative discernable in the participants’ narratives of deviation portrays ideals of the happy, white, secular, middle-class, heteronormative nuclear family, even though this does not always correspond to the actual lived situations of families in contemporary Sweden.
The second edition of the essential guide for reproductive professionals is now available in a Clinical Guide and a Case Studies Guide, presenting the most current knowledge on counseling diverse patients amidst rapidly advancing modern technology. Follow an in-depth presentation of clinical concepts in this Clinical Guide for a foundational understanding of the medical and psychosocial experience of fertility treatment. Explore the areas of reproductive psychology, therapeutic approaches, assessment and preparation in assisted reproduction, addressing the needs of diverse populations, and clinical practice issues. Featuring new topics such as transgender ART, recurrent pregnancy loss, post-partum adjustment, and the pregnant therapist. Then in Case Studies, discover the accessible, real-world experiences and perspectives as leading international practitioners share their stories applying clinical concepts to treatment practice. An essential aid for medical and mental health professionals, this comprehensive guide allows clinicians to develop and refine the skills required to address the increasingly complex psychosocial needs of fertility patients.
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In the life story, autobiographical remembering and self-understanding are combined to create a coherent account of one's past. A gap is demonstrated between developmental research on the story-organization of autobiographical remembering of events in childhood and of life narratives in adulthood. This gap is bridged by substantiating D. P. McAdams's (1985) claim that the life story develops in adolescence. Two manifestations of the life story, life narratives and autobiographical reasoning, are delineated in terms of 4 types of global coherence (temporal, biographical, causal, and thematic). A review of research shows that the cognitive tools necessary for constrtlcting global coherence in a life story and the social-motivational demands to construct a life story develop during adolescence. The authors delineate the implications of the life story framework for other research areas such as coping, attachment, psychotherapeutic process, and the organization of autobiographical memory. DOI 10.1037/0033-2909.126.5.748
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Midlife adults (age 35 to 65) and college undergraduates provided lengthy, open-ended narrative accounts of personally meaningful episodes from the past, such as life-story high points, low points, turning points, and earliest memories. The oral (adult) and written (student) narratives were coded for redemption and contamination imagery. In the midlife sample, adults scoring high on self-report measures of generativity showed significantly higher levels of redemption and lower levels of contamination sequences. In both samples, redemption sequences in life narrative accounts were positively associated with self-report measures of psychological well-being, whereas contamination sequences predicted low levels of well-being among midlife adults. In addition, redemption sequence scores were a stronger predictor of well-being than were ratings of the overall affective quality of life-narrative accounts. The results are discussed with respect to the empirical literature of benefit-finding in the face of adversity and in the context of the recent upsurge of interest in the collection and interpretation of life narratives.
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The present study examined the coherence of low- and high-point life-event narratives among adolescents (aged between 12 and 21 years) and their psychological functioning in terms of well-being and prosocial behaviour. The results showed robust age-related increases in narrative coherence. Age and gender significantly moderated the associations between narrative coherence and psychological functioning. Specifically, higher levels of coherence were significantly associated with prosocial behaviour only for older adolescents. Higher levels of narrative coherence were also associated with lower levels of well-being among adolescent boys, but not among adolescent girls. Results are discussed in terms of why coherent life-event narratives may not be linked to benefits for younger adolescents and for boys, and how low- and high-point life events both contribute to identity construction.
Drawing from the author's psychological research on especially generative (that is, caring and productive) midlife American adults and on a reading of American cultural history and literature, this book identifies a prototypical story of the good life that many Americans employ to make sense of who they are, who they have been, and who they will be in the future. The central theme in this story is redemption - the deliverance from suffering to a positive status or outcome. Empirical research suggests that highly generative American adults are much more likely than their less generative counterparts to construe their lives as tales of redemption. Redemptive life stories promote psychological well-being, physical health, and the adult's commitment to making a positive contribution to society. But stories of redemption are as much cultural texts as they are individual psychological constructions. From the spiritual autobiographies composed by the Massachusetts Bay Puritans to the most recent episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show, common scripts for the redemptive self may be found in religious accounts of conversion and atonement, the rags-to-riches stories of the American dream, and canonical cultural narratives about personal liberation, freedom, and recovery. The book examines the psychological and cultural dynamics of redemptive life narratives, including the role of American religion and self-help as sources for the construction of life stories and the broad similarities, as well as the striking differences in how African-American and Euro-American adults construct redemptive stories of the self. For all their psychological and cultural power, redemptive life stories sometimes reveal important limitations in American identity. For example, some versions of the redemptive self underscore the naïve expectation that suffering will always be overcome and the arrogance of seeing one's own life as the living out of a personal manifest destiny.
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)
The present study examined aspects of identity development in a sample of adolescent boys from two approaches: individuation and narrative. To extend the more recent research on narrative identity development, we also examined relations between narrative identity, well-being, and age. Narrative meaning making was predicted by themes of individuation in the narratives, specifically the interaction of autonomy and connectedness. Well-being was predicted by different aspects of meaning depending on the kind of meaning and the stage of adolescence. Finally, results showed an age-related increase in meaning-making processes, particularly meaning related to perceiving the self as changing. Results are discussed in terms of the processes of narrative identity development for adolescent boys.
Adolescents (N=46; M=12.46 years) who had previously participated in a longitudinal study of autobiographical memory development narrated their early childhood memories, interpreted life events, and completed a family history questionnaire and language assessment. Three distinct components of adolescent memory emerged: (1) age of earliest memory and insight into life events; (2) volume of early memories; and (3) density of specific memories from early childhood. Children's language, self-awareness, and theory of mind during early childhood (19–51 months) all contributed to their memories as adolescents. However, adolescents’ early reminiscing environment was the best single predictor of the age and volume of their early memories and their insight into life events. In contrast, adolescents’ delayed self-recognition and reminiscing in early childhood predicted the density of their early memories. These findings provide partial support for theories of autobiographical memory development.