Personality characteristics of highly generative adults as assessed in Q-sort ratings of life stories

A. Himsel, H. Hart, A. Diamon, D.P. McAdams

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6 Scopus citations


The present study compared the personality characteristics assessed in life stories of 40 highly generative adults to those in the life stories of a contrasting sample of 30 less generative adults. Life-story interviews of all 70 subjects were rated with the California Adult Q-Sort (CAQ; Block, 1961). The results were compared to the “expert” generativity CAQ profile compiled by Peterson and Klohnen (1995). The results indicated that highly generative adults were more likely to construct life stories indicative of such positive generativity characteristics as “behaves in a giving way toward others” and “is turned to for advice and reassurance” compared to adults low in generativity. Furthermore, the highly generative adults related life-story accounts in which negative generativity qualities such as “has hostility toward others” and “is self-indulgent” were more uncharacteristic than those expressed in the low-generativity adults' stories. The study adds to a growing empirical literature on the meaning and manifestations of generativity in adult lives and suggests that the CAQ is a useful tool for uncovering personality characteristics expressed in the life-story accounts generated by adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-161
JournalJournal of Adult Development
StatePublished - 1997


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