Personal growth in adults' stories of life transitions

Jack J. Bauer*, Dan P. McAdams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

206 Scopus citations


This study identified four themes of personal growth (integrative, intrinsic, agentic, and communal) in adults' stories of life transitions in careers and religions. Specific themes were expected to relate differentially to two forms of personality development (social-cognitive maturity and social-emotional well-being) and to transition satisfaction. Integrative themes correlated primarily with social-cognitive maturity (ego development; Loevinger, 1976), whereas intrinsic themes correlated primarily with social-emotional well-being. Agentic-growth themes correlated primarily with transition satisfaction, whereas communal-growth themes correlated primarily with global well-being. Themes of agentic and communal growth also differentiated the two types of transitions studied - changes in careers and changes in religions - in ways that both supported and contradicted traditional notions of those transitions. We discuss these findings in terms of narrative meaning making, the mature and happy person, and intentional self-development via life transitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-602
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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