The redemptive self: Generativity and the stories Americans live by

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Abstract

Generativity is an adult's concern for and commitment to promoting the development and well-being of future generations. A growing body of research has shown that individual differences in generativity are associated with particular patterns of parenting, social support, and religious and civic involvement. Research has also suggested that highly generative American adults tend to construct self-defining life stories (narrative identities) that feature the psychological theme of redemption—the deliverance from suffering to an enhanced status or position in life. Through stories of redemption, narrators often articulate how they believe they experienced a "second chance" in life. Redemptive life stories told by highly generative American adults 5 also incorporate themes of (a) childhood advantage, (b) early awareness of the suffering of others, (c) moral clarity and steadfastness, (d) the conflict between power and love, and (e) future growth and fulfillment. Redemptive narratives function to support and justify a highly generative approach to life in the middle-adult years. At the same time, these individual life stories told by highly generative American adults affirm, work through, and sometimes call into question broader cultural narratives in American history and heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-100
JournalResearch in Human Development
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

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