Midlife adults (age 35 to 65) and college undergraduates provided lengthy, open-ended narrative accounts of personally meaningful episodes from the past, such as life-story high points, low points, turning points, and earliest memories. The oral (adult) and written (student) narratives were coded for redemption and contamination imagery. In the midlife sample, adults scoring high on self-report measures of generativity showed significantly higher levels of redemption and lower levels of contamination sequences. In both samples, redemption sequences in life narrative accounts were positively associated with self-report measures of psychological well-being, whereas contamination sequences predicted low levels of well-being among midlife adults. In addition, redemption sequence scores were a stronger predictor of well-being than were ratings of the overall affective quality of life-narrative accounts. The results are discussed with respect to the empirical literature of benefit-finding in the face of adversity and in the context of the recent upsurge of interest in the collection and interpretation of life narratives.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology