Guo, J., Kelvan, M., & McAdams, D. P. (2016). Personality Traits, Ego Development, and the Redemptive Self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(11), 1551-1563.
Life narratives are the internalized stories that people construct to provide meaning, purpose, and coherence in their lives. Prior research suggests that psychologically healthy and socially engaged adults generally narrate their lives in a prototypical fashion labeled the redemptive self, consisting of five themes: (a) a sense of childhood advantage, (b) empathy for others’ sufferings, (c) moral steadfastness, (d) turning of negative events into positive outcomes (redemption sequences), and (e) prosocial goals. The current study examines trait correlates of the redemptive self in 157 late-midlife adults. Summing thematic scores across 12 life story interview scenes, the redemptive self was positively associated with four of the Big Five traits: extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability, but unrelated to cognitive features of personality, as assessed on openness and ego development. The findings suggest those with positive socio-emotional personality traits, but not necessarily a proclivity for sophisticated thoughts, tend to have redemptive life stories.