Beyond the redemptive self: Narratives of acceptance in later life (and in Other Contexts)

Dan P. McAdams*, Regina L. Logan, Hollen N. Reischer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Prior research has shown that midlife adults who construct highly redemptive life narratives tend to exhibit high levels of generativity and psychological well-being. What researchers today describe as the redemptive self, therefore, serves as a strong model for living a good life among many midlife American adults. In late life, however, and in certain other contexts, narratives that showcase the power of acceptance, rather than redemption, may prove more suitable as good life stories. In narratives of acceptance, the protagonist aims to come to terms with life and the inevitability of loss and suffering, to reconcile conflict, manage (rather than overcome) adversity, and sustain interpersonal bonds of intimacy and warmth. Narratives of acceptance may nourish valued human characteristics like grace, humility, and wisdom. Converging ideas regarding narratives of acceptance may be found in the literatures of narrative gerontology and disability studies, and from writings on the salutary effects of internalizing tragic narratives in psychotherapy and promoting social interventions designed to alleviate pain and promote well-being under conditions of significant constraint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104286
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Acceptance
  • Good life stories
  • Life-span personality development
  • Narrative identity
  • The redemptive self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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