The transforming self: Service narratives and identity change in emerging adulthood

Keith Cox*, Dan P. McAdams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The study examined the extent to which a service trip to Nicaragua affected college students' narrative understanding of themselves and their commitment to volunteer service. College students who went on a spring break service trip to work with poor citizens of Nicaragua wrote narrative accounts of three important experiences on the trip shortly after they returned. Measures of volunteerism were collected before the trip and at two points afterward: 1 week and 3 months later. Themes of self-transformation in service trip narratives predicted trip-related volunteerism one week and 3 months later, even after controlling for prior volunteerism. Themes of sympathy in the narratives predicted trip-related volunteerism one week but not 3 months, and themes of helplessness negatively related to prior volunteerism. The results underscore the importance of examining the role of life narratives in the development of volunteer behavior and service mindedness among emerging adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-43
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Keywords

  • college issues
  • emerging adulthood
  • identity issues
  • positive youth development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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