Life story coherence and its relation to psychological well-being

Dana Royce Baerger*, Dan P. McAdams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


Over the past few years, the concept of coherence as it applies to people's storied accounts of their lives has become an increasingly popular topic. However, theories of coherence have been slow to appear, and a comprehensive definition of the construct has yet to be presented by researchers. Moreover, almost no work has been done relating the concept of coherence to the particular form of the life story. Thus, the aims of the present study were twofold: first, to investigate whether it is possible to construct a reliable coding scheme for life story coherence, and second, to examine the relationships between life story coherence and mental health. The results of the study indicate that the life story coherence coding system is a reliable measure, and that the coherence construct is therefore amenable to quantitative analysis. The most important finding of this study was that, as predicted, life story coherence demonstrated a statistically significant relationship to psychological well-being. This finding thus lends statistical credibility to the claims of narrative psychologists, who argue that mental well-being is related to, if not the result of, a well-integrated and coherent life story.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-96
Number of pages28
JournalNarrative Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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