The autobiographical author through time: Examining the degree of stability and change in redemptive and contaminated personal narratives

William L. Dunlop*, Jen Guo, Dan P. McAdams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined continuity and change in the tendencies to construct a life story (i.e., narrative identity) that was redemptive or contaminated in nature. In Study 1, college freshmen and seniors wrote accounts of several autobiographical key scenes pertinent to narrative identity twice over a 3-year period. In Study 2, midlife adults provided, via a semistructured interview, key scenes twice over a 5-year period and also indicated whether their employment status had changed between assessments. Across studies, the rank-order consistency of redemptive and contaminated stories was moderate and low to moderate, respectively. In Study 1, the frequency of redemptive and contaminated stories increased throughout college. Furthermore, the frequency of contaminated stories decreased following graduation. In Study 2, changes in employment status corresponded with reduced redemptive imagery. These results suggest a possible narrative acculturation of young adults as well as a correspondence between changes in life circumstances and narrative identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-436
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume7
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2016

Keywords

  • Contaminated sequences
  • Longitudinal
  • Narrative identity
  • Personality development
  • Redemptive sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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