We examined continuity and change in the tendencies to construct a life story (i.e., narrative identity) that was redemptive or
contaminated in nature. In Study 1, college freshmen and seniors wrote accounts of several autobiographical key scenes pertinent
to narrative identity twice over a 3-year period. In Study 2, midlife adults provided, via a semistructured interview, key scenes
twice over a 5-year period and also indicated whether their employment status had changed between assessments. Across
studies, the rank-order consistency of redemptive and contaminated stories was moderate and low to moderate, respectively. In
Study 1, the frequency of redemptive and contaminated stories increased throughout college. Furthermore, the frequency of
contaminated stories decreased following graduation. In Study 2, changes in employment status corresponded with reduced
redemptive imagery. These results suggest a possible narrative acculturation of young adults as well as a correspondence between
changes in life circumstances and narrative identity.
Four studies were conducted on young adults’ goals and plans to change personality traits. In Study 1, a new trait change goal assessment tool, the BF-TGI, found Neuroticism to be the most frequently cited trait for a change goal. In Study 2, data was gathered from the UK, Iran and China. Iran showed a higher prevalence of normative change goals than the UK and China. Study 3 investigated plans to change traits. Extraversion and Conscientiousness plans were more specific than for the other traits. Study 4 investigated whether goals and plans to change predict change over 12 months, and found that goals and plans to change Conscientiousness and Neuroticism predicted change in the opposite direction to the goal.
McAdams, D. P. & Guo, J. (2014). How shall I live? Constructing a life story in the college years. In C. Hanson (Ed.),In search of self: Exploring undergraduate identity development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. This chapter applies the concept of narrative identity to college student development. The authors describe a narrative interview method that can […]