Eudaimonic Growth: Narrative Growth Goals Predict Increases in Ego Development and Subjective Well-Being 3 Years Later

Jack J. Bauer*, Dan P. McAdams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


We examine (a) the normative course of eudaimonic well-being in emerging adulthood and (b) whether people's narratives of major life goals might prospectively predict eudaimonic growth 3 years later. We define eudaimonic growth as longitudinal increases in eudaimonic well-being, which we define as the combination of psychosocial maturity and subjective well-being (SWB). College freshmen and seniors took measures of ego development (ED; to assess maturity; Loevinger, 1976) and SWB at Time 1 (T1) and again 3 years later (Time 2). ED levels increased longitudinally across that time for men and T1 freshmen, but SWB levels did not change. Participants also wrote narratives of 2 major life goals at T1 that were coded for an explicit emphasis on specific kinds of personal growth. Participants' intellectual-growth goals (especially agentic ones) predicted increases in ED 3 years later, whereas participants' socioemotional-growth goals (especially communal ones) predicted increases in SWB 3 years later. These findings were independent of the effects of Big Five personality traits-notably conscientiousness, which on its own predicted increases in SWB. We discuss (a) emerging adulthood as the last stop for normative eudaimonic growth in modern society and (b) empirical and theoretical issues surrounding the relations among narrative identity, life planning, dispositional traits, eudaimonia, and 2 paths of personal growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-772
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Ego development
  • Eudaimonic well-being
  • Growth goals
  • Narrative
  • Traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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