Although growth has been a central focus in narrative research, few studies have examined growth comprehensively, as a story that emerges across the interpretation of many events. In this study, we examined how individual differences in autobiographical reasoning (AR) about self-growth relate to traits and well-being in a national sample of midlife adults (N= 88) who ranged in age from 34 to 68. Two patterns of growth-related AR were identified: (1) positive processing, defined as the average tendency to interpret events positively (vs. negatively), and (2) differentiated processing, defined as the extent to which past events are interpreted as causing a variety of forms of self-growth. Results showed that positive processing was negatively related to neuroticism and predicted well-being even after controlling for the average valence of past events. Additionally, differentiated processing of negative events but not positive events was positively related to openness and predictive of well-being. Finally, growth-related AR patterns independently predicted well-being beyond the effects of traits and demographic factors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology